If the time finally comes when Paul Wolfowitz is forced to publicly account for his role as chief architect of the Iraq invasion, look for him to blame everyone else but himself.
He’ll blame his attackers. And if he can possibly do so, he might very well blame his girlfriend. That’s what he’s doing in his wrangle with the World Bank.
The World Bank panel’s final report on Wolfowitz’s shoddy, unethical behavior regarding his sweetheart deal for his sweetheart, Shaha Ali Riza, heavily criticizes Wolfowitz from dragging the institution through the mud. And it, in effect, brands him a liar.
So, don’t wait for his book on Iraq — or for his 60 Minutes interview touting that book. Go right to the bank panel’s report on the tenets Wolfie followed. I noted late yesterday some of the panel’s harsh findings.
A closer look at the report confirms that Wolfowitz never had any business being “selected” (named by Dick Cheney and the others for whom George W. Bush is front man) to head the World Bank in the spring of 2005.
Fresh from helping initiate the invasion of Iraq, in which the U.S. flouted international rules of conduct, Wolfowitz apparently believed that the World Bank’s rules didn’t apply either. From the bank’s Ad Hoc Group investigating panel:
The report continues:
When the whole situation started to unravel (started initially by my September 2005 story about his sweetheart’s sweetheart deal to go work with Cheney’s daughter Liz at the State Department), Wolfowitz responded like any other petty despot: He attacked his attackers. The bank panel notes:
The Ad Hoc Group believes that this is of concern for a variety of reasons: 1) it places Mr. Wolfowitz’s personal interests ahead of institutional interests; 2) it casts Mr. Wolfowitz as an adversary of the World Bank when, as noted above, the process underway should not be regarded as adversarial; 3) it results in the institution being seen in a bad and unfair light in the public eye; and 4) it has produced an environment that, put mildly, is not conducive to maximum work efficiency or positive staff morale.
The Group believes that the President’s actions are inconsistent with his obligation to “maintain the highest standards of integrity in [his] personal and professional conduct and observe principles of good governance” as required by the Code of Conduct.
Principles? Codes? Wolfie’s current position is laughable. As the report says (and as I noted yesterday):
The bank panel says he couldn’t be more wrong about that:
Shaha Riza is bound to be troubled, too. Wolfie claimed to the bank’s investigating panel that the bank’s ethics panel was afraid to deal with Riza because she was “angry and upset” over her past treatment. Hey, Wolfie, stop projecting. You’re the one who’s afraid of her temper. But, true to your bungling, you’re just going to make her madder by thus blaming her for part of this situation.
You don’t have to be a psychologist to parse this passage in Peter Goodman‘s story in this morning’s Washington Post:
“Its members did not want to deal with a very angry Ms. Riza, whose career was being damaged as a result of their decision,” Wolfowitz said in his response to the investigating committee’s report. “It would only be human nature for them to want to steer clear of her.”
Wolfie sounds as if he speaks from experience. She gets that pissed off, eh? Wait till she reads the report and sees that you have blamed her supposed wrath for your own foolish actions.
Maybe that will solve the conflict of interest problem. No girlfriend, no conflict of interest. Case closed.
No, that won’t happen — publicly, at least. The next big thing to happen publicly will be Wolfowitz’s exit from the bank. But the longer he stays around, the more difficult it is to get him to withdraw gracefully.
Kind of like Iraq.