DC and NY
So the outsider, the Iraq man Wolfowitz just didn’t have the class or inspire the confidence to lead the World Bank on the nine-year trek towards the sunlit, global poverty-free uplands of 2015. A really rather minor problem with his somewhat unlikely girlfriend, Shaha Riza - just a matter of arranging jobs, steepling pay rises, and “outstanding” ratings in performance reviews, nothing really - has proved fatal. All a bit of a shock for someone doing probably only what he thought everyone always did. This time next month the Wolf will be stoically packing away his unused WB-imprinted toilet rolls in his WB-embossed briefcase, and walking out into the DC night a banking giant no more.
Despite pleas from several member-nations for the choice of successor to be thrown open to non-Americans, President Bush announced his man for the job today. It’s career diplomat turned Goldman Sachs banker, Robert Zoellick. An administration official said that his dual experience “makes him uniquely prepared to take on this challenge.”
After the Wolfowitz resignation, the man charged with “finding” a successor was US treasury secretary Henry Paulson. Now Paulson is, some may be surprised to hear, a Christian Scientist. But the important point is that he is actually Goldman Sachs to the core, having joined the bank in 1974 and succeeded to the post of CEO in the early 2000s. He has a net worth estimated at $700 million. Like each of his three previous Goldman Sachs CEOs, Joe Corzine, Stephen Friedman and Robert Rubin, he found the pull of a government appointment too strong and took up the post of Treasury Secretary in June of last year (it was thought at the time that one Robert Zoellick might beat him to it). Strangely, a former colleague at Goldman Sachs, Bob Steel, has just been nominated as Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance.
This cosy relationship between money and power has been going on since the days of FDR, when Goldman Sachs then head Sydney Weinberg made the switch. He argued for other senior executives to follow him in a second career as a public servant, and the trend was quickly established. It is recognised in the recruiting strategy at the bank, which consciously seeks managers with government experience.
Robert Zoellick - no Christian Scientist, by the way - is such an individual. It must have been a tough job for Paulson to root out a man with such rare gifts at ... Goldman Sachs. Among these is a past association with Team Bush, namely that in the run up to the 2000 Presidential Election, Zoellick served on a foreign policy advisory group known as the Vulcans, led by Condoleezza Rice. Other group members included Richard Armitage, Richard Perle and ... Paul Wolfowitz. Small world.
But then Zoellick goes back with Wolfowitz, Armitage and Perle well into the nineties. All three were signatories to a letter to President Clinton drafted on 26th January 1998 by the PNAC calling for “removing Saddam’s regime from power.” Small, small world. Just as it is designed to be.
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