Monday, April 30

Is Naomi Klein nuts? She wants to sink the World Bank. Not before we get names and the amounts stolen.

I don't know what to make of Klein's piece for The Nation. (H/T World Bank President site.) After mentioning a micron's worth of the corruption the World Bank has participated in, she wants to see the Bank go down with Wolfy. Not so fast.

I'd like to ask Ms Klein how she'd feel if, after being the victim of a robbery, the police officer taking her complaint replied, "The attack happened before I came on duty. Sorry; I can't help you."

That's what happened to a Congolese who asked then-World Bank President James Wolfensohn whether he could investigate all the money stolen from the Bank -- and the Congolese people -- by Mobutu Sese Seko.

Wolfensohn replied, "[...] The question of where the money went and what the objections were at the time is something I can't really answer seeing as I wasn't around."(1)

The reply is a window on how the World Bank has aided and abetted some of modern history's worst dictators.

The World Bank doesn't need to be shut down. It needs to be investigated. There needs to be a commission set up, along the lines of the commission that investigated the UN Oil-for-Food Program.

At the least, a class action suit needs to filed against the World Bank so that the publics in countries that contribute to the World Bank, and publics that were outright victims of World Bank corruption, can learn the names of Bank employees who were involved in the largest Bank corruption deals.

And now that the Bank is finally making a pass at tackling corruption, the US Congress and the European Parliament need to get involved in reviewing the Bank's anti-corruption guidelines.

Paul Wolfowitz was on the right track in putting teeth in anti-corruption measures, but his decisions on which corrupt government to penalize were based more on emotion than a comprehensive plan and thus, counterproductive.

What should emerge from all the fireworks concerning Wolfy's tenure is a set of anti-corruption guidelines that can be used as a model for all other development banks.

But above all, the past should not be buried by shutting down the World Bank -- at least, not until much more light has fallen on the past.

1) BBC Forum, 2000

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