by An American in London
Fri May 18th, 2007 at 08:27:12 AM EST
The following is from a Guardian comment by Paul Bluestein. Paul Blustein is journalist in residence in the Global Economy and Development Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington. A former reporter for the Washington Post, he covered the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other issues related to economic globalization for more than 10 years
The long institutional nightmare is over. That, at least, is the hope at the World Bank, now that Paul Wolfowitz has resigned as the bank's president amid the furor over the hefty pay raise and job transfer received by his woman friend, a bank employee. With any luck, this will end the enormously distracting, increasingly tiresome debate over whether Wolfowitz violated the bank's conflict of interest rules when he arranged the terms of his companion's job package - as his critics contended - or whether he had acted in good faith at the behest of the bank's board and fell victim to a smear campaign, as he and his defenders assert.
But the bank's ability to fulfill its mission of alleviating poverty in the developing world has suffered a severe blow amid the deep divisions and acrimony generated by the controversy, and it is imperative for the 185 governments that own the bank to breathe new life into the institution. There would be no better place for them to start than with the system that brought Wolfowitz to the bank in the first place - a longstanding tradition of mutual back-scratching and political horse-trading that gives the world's richest nations the power to choose the leaders and, often, the deputy chiefs of the bank and its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund.