“Volcker Panel Calls World Bank Antigraft Operation Dysfunctional”

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Currently, Folsom runs the department and is also counselor to the World Bank president. Her critics have charged that the two jobs — running the antigraft unit and dispensing political advice — are incompatible. Ms. Folsom has said the two jobs helped give her “the ear of the president.”

Those are not conflicts of interest!

Those are innovation synergies!

Volcker Panel Urges Change For World Bank Unit (Wall Street Journal). A follow-up to

The W$J has gotten into the habit over the years of providing a handy link to the source documents in cases like this. It’s an excellent habit, worthy of imitation. Saves me having to google them up.

Reporter Bob Davis provides a synopsis of the back story:

For decades, the World Bank largely ignored corruption, figuring that some graft was the price of doing business in poor countries. In addition, given the rapid economic growth of countries with notoriously corrupt governments, such as China and Indonesia, some development experts doubted that graft was one of the critical obstacles to economic growth.

The problem being that where graft prevails, book-cooking and phony numbers tend to prevail as well.

In which case some of those “economic miracles” based on “economic shock therapy” turn out to be Potemkin villages. With results that might have been predicted and planned for had the books not been cooked.

Such as the proposition that Iraq reconstruction would pay for itself.

And who issued that gabbling prognostication?

Starting in 1996, however, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn focused more attention on corruption issues. In 2001, he started the integrity department, which made little headway during his tenure. The department’s stature was elevated under his successor, Mr. Wolfowitz, who made fighting corruption a priority, a stance that further divided the bank.

In my view, the Wolfowitz bank made fighting corruption a priority where it found it politically convenient to wax hysterically virginical on the topic, and less of a priority where it was not politically convenient. In others words,

“For our friends, anything; for our enemies, the law.”

The nun-raping, drug-running Contras were “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.” Paulo Salim Maluf is “a victim of political persecution.” Felipe Calderón is morally upright and suprisingly competent. That sort of nonsense.

The World Bank’s “corruption perceptions index,” for example, is gabbling junk science in the service of glittering generalities.

It bears an official red herring saying that its results are not fit for consumption by rational deliberators and are not to be relied upon anyone for any useful purpose whatsoever.

So why even bother spending taxpayer dollars on a study of “perception” rather than, say, incidence and typology? See also

Bank employees complained that the department was heavy-handed and secretive — a “gulag,” one staffer dubbed it. Its defenders dismissed those who complained as either unconcerned about graft or, in some cases, complicit.

“If you are not with us, you are with the terrorists.”

On the quality of defenders of the Wolfowitz antigraft crusade, see also

When Mr. Wolfowitz came under fire earlier this year over alleged favoritism to his girlfriend, a bank employee, the anticorruption agenda became even more politicized. Some developing nations dismissed the bank’s efforts as hypocritical. The result of the battles, the panel said, was “growing mutual distrust undermining what progress has been made” on the issue.

Which developing nations charged hypocrisy? Why? How about interviewing some of these critics on the record so we can get a sense of the substance of their kvetches?

The integrity department’s head, Suzanne Folsom, has been a particular lightning rod for criticism. Her supporters say critics are trying to hound her out of office because of her longstanding ties to the Republican Party and her close alliance with Mr. Wolfowitz, who resigned from the bank under fire.

“I am a victim of a political witch-hunt” is a primary indicator of the “banana-republican guilty plea” — changing the subject while filibustering.

Alberto Gonzalez, for example, is now being positioned as the victim of a media-driven political witch hunt.

“Jeff Gannon” continues to position himself as the victim of “the politics of personal destruction,” taking a page from the notebook of Tom de Lay, who cribbed it in turn from Slick Willy “the meaning of is” Clinton.

Ms. Folsom, according to a pocket profile by BICUSA at the time, is

Wife of George Folsom, President of the International Republican Institute …

Volcker is diplomatic.

Mr. Volcker said he gave Ms. Folsom “high marks on the professionalism of the operation.” But he argued that her role should change.

Wearing two hats at the same time is innovative!

And what do we mean by “her role,” anyway? The whole point of fulfilling an institutional role is that the role should function within the parameters established for it regardless of who occupies it.

Currently, she runs the department and is also counselor to the World Bank president. Her critics have charged that the two jobs — running the antigraft unit and dispensing political advice — are incompatible. Ms. Folsom has said the two jobs helped give her “the ear of the president.”

It’s who you know. The head of institutional integrity at the World Bank defends her work by invoking the “it’s who you know” principle.

After her boss got borked, with massive worldwide publicity, over arranging a sweetheart deal for his girlfriend. 

How astonishingly tone-deaf to the Zeitgeist is that?


Mr. Suzanne Folsom heads the International Republican Institute.

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