WSJ Warns of Another “Putsch”

The Editors at the Wall Street Journal continue to be the most reliable source of comic relief in this whole Wolfowitz-Zoellick episode. Today they’re warning of another World Bank “putsch” — their term for what happened to Wolfowitz — this time against Suzanne Rich Folsom from the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT). In their own inimitable (I hope) words: “As we go to press, sources inside and outside the bank tell us that a follow-up to the putsch against Mr. Wolfowitz is being engineered by Managing Director Graeme Wheeler and Staff Association Chair Alison Cave against Suzanne Rich Folsom […]. Ms. Folsom, an ethics lawyer brought in by former president Jim Wolfensohn and promoted to her current job by Mr. Wolfowitz, has been aggressively pursuing corruption investigations, much to the alarm of some at the bank.”

And these are some dangerous enemies: “Mr. Wheeler and Ms. Cave were among the most outspoken bank employees calling on Mr. Wolfowitz to resign.”

The editors seem a little luke-warm about Zoellick, saying “if he is to succeed as president, Mr. Zoellick will have to do more than become a mouthpiece for the bank’s shove-money-out-the-door culture” and “the challenge facing Mr. Zoellick is whether to be a change agent or just another fief builder who lectures Western taxpayers that they aren’t giving the bank enough money. We’ll get an early signal by how he handles the bank’s anti-anti-corruption revolt.”

Other highlights: the Editors could hardly resist the opportunity to re-state their thesis that the ejection of Wolfowitz was a European plot to take over the World Bank presidency. Indeed, their fear of Europe verges on the hysterical — in both the psychological and humorous senses:

“In selecting Mr. Zoellick, Mr. Bush has at least quashed any illusions Europeans might have had that they could put one of their own in the top bank job. We have no brief for the 60-year tradition of having an American run the bank — or, for that matter, the tradition of giving the top job at the International Monetary Fund to a European. But there is no way the Europeans could be rewarded for trashing Mr. Wolfowitz’s career in order to get his job.”

As a last little tidbit, and not entirely relevantly, the Editors turn their attention to another Bank department:

Mr. Zoellick would also do the bank — and the English language — a favor by abolishing the Independent Evaluation Group. Despite its name, the group, which is supposed to provide independent assessments of the effectiveness of bank projects, is staffed by bank employees who have every incentive to kiss the hand that feeds them.”




7 thoughts on “WSJ Warns of Another “Putsch”

  1. Eventually those who found PW an amenable man to work for will realize that their lack of skills beyond contacts, and failure to produce for the clients of the Bank, will be out. Whether they jump, or are pushed, is irrelevant. Just that they not hang around and create more problems. Ms Folsom is probably on that list, and any serious effort to correct governance problems at the Bank must address how people can be appointed after an international search that did not uncover them. Remember that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. Let’s hope that Mr Zoellick does not have anyone on his coattails who will follow him to the Bank, as he or she may have followed him elsewhere.

  2. On 21 April 2007 I called the World Bank “anti corruption hotline” (1 800 831 0463) to report the case of corruption in the appointment of Suzanne Folsom.

    The hotline is run by an outside company and the World Bank is supposed to respond within 2 weeks. I have checked every 2 weeks and so far they have not responded.

    The corruption in this case is:

    Following a standard global selection process, a shortlist of candidates was drawn up, which did not include Suzanne Folsom’s name. Paul Wolfowitz then overrode the selection process and appointed Suzanne Folsom, who is the wife of George Folsom, President of the International Republican Institute and a personal friend of Wolfowitz.

    The World Bank’s own website says:

    “”Recognizing that any program to assist in controlling corruption worldwide
    needs to start with the example of best practices at home, the Bank has taken
    initiatives to stamp out conflicts of interest and any possible corrupt
    practices among its own staff.”

    I have also contacted Xavier Coll ( on the same matter but he has not responded.

    So, let’s get ride of the staff who are corrupt now – then we can move on…

  3. I find it sad that only four people are commenting on this site! There are so many governance issues, one would think Bankers would be clamoring to discuss how to improve all that ails the World Bank.

  4. So, someone wishes us to eat the lotus flowers. We cannot forget if we want to move forward. We must process and synthesize, but not forget. Otherwise, as is said, they who pay no attention to the past are condemned to repeat it. Those who wish to simply sweep all this under the rug, clearly do not understand the issue was not soley PW’s employment, but all the appointments of cronies, collusion with HR, corruption of INT, et al. This all need to be sorted before we can move forward. Really, I can’t believe someone would be so remarkably foolish as to suggest we simply “forget”.

  5. Ladies and gentlemen, and all others on this board.

    The PW saga is past.

    The site (wolfowitzresign) graciously shut down.

    While there are still issues of what to do with the cronies, it would be tragic and disappointing to have the institution continue with posters (staff or not) on this board asking questions such as ‘who did what’ during the saga.

    Yes, there clearly need to be an autopsy to improve governance. But beyond that, why don’t everyone try to put PW behind them?

    A great man once observed that the future will be decided by what people are allowed to forget rather than what they remember. (Peter Ustinov)

    Paul Wolfowitz now belongs in the dust bin of Bank history.

  6. I was shocked to read that when Staff Association head Alison Cave asked Xavier Coll – last year! – if there was anything valid to persistent staff complaints about Shaha Riza’s secondment, he told her, “There’s nothing there. The board approved it.” Why would Xaiver outright lie to Alison? Did he feel pressured by Wolfowitz to cover up to Alison any hint of Wolfowitz not following procedures? Or was there really nothing there? Did Xaiver mastermind the coup since he is leaving the Bank in July? Really someone should ask Alison about her conversation with Xavier.

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