Byline: Patrice Hill, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush yesterday nominated Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war, to be president of the World Bank.
The nomination was immediately endorsed by the current heads of the bank and the International Monetary Fund, but some European officials and analysts connected with the bank questioned whether he is fit for the top economic and development post.Although the United States by tradition has filled the post, which becomes vacant in June, Mr. Bush acknowledged the selection of the deputy defense secretary faces resistance on the bank's board, where the United States carries 17 percent of the vote among 23 members.
Mr. Bush called Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and other world leaders to lobby personally for the nominee, best known as one of Mr. Bush's leading "neoconservative" defense advisers.
"I think Paul will be a strong president of the World Bank," Mr. Bush said at a White House press conference. "He helped manage a large organization. The World Bank's a large organization; the Pentagon's a large organization. ... He's a skilled diplomat, worked at the State Department in high positions. He was ambassador to Indonesia."
Answering criticism that Mr. Wolfowitz lacks credentials in economics, finance or peacetime development as previous World Bank chiefs had, the president insisted, "Paul is committed to development. He's a compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job."
Mr. Wolfowitz might try to return the World Bank to its traditional role of financing large infrastructure projects such as dams and power plants and cut back on social projects like climate change that became a focus under the current president, James Wolfensohn, analysts said.
Despite having a different philosophy, Mr. Wolfensohn, who is stepping down when his term expires, praised Mr. Wolfowitz as "a person of high intellect, integrity and broad experience." Mr. Bush said he hopes that endorsement will sway the votes of board members. …