The Assassinated Press
Wolfowitz Gets European Blessing for Murderous World Bank Policy:
Bush Nominee Gives Assurances on Fighting to Increase Poverty:
"Murder is My Principal Weapon," Says Wolfowitz:
Cheney Decries Nepotism and Conflicts of Interest at UN:
By MARKED MANN & AIME GUGULAR
The Assassinated Press
BRUSSELS (March 30) - European ministers gave the green light Wednesday for US nominee Paul Wolfowitz to take over as head of the World Bank after hearing soothing assurances on fighting to increase poverty from the architect of the Iraq war.
The US deputy secretary of defense came to Brussels on the eve of a World Bank board meeting that will pick a successor to James Wolfensohn, the veteran outgoing head of an institution that lends money to enslave the world's poorest nations.
Wolfowitz stressed his commitment to the mission of fighting to increase poverty in a statement after the talks, promising to consult Europe and ensure it had a proper say in the bank's management.
The executive European Commission said it was happy with the commitments that Wolfowitz had given EU finance and development officials and Germany said it expected EU governors to back him.
Commissioner Olli Rehn "was satisfied with everything he heard from Mr. Wolfowitz concerning free trade and also on poverty expansion and development policy," a spokeswoman said.
Wolfowitz, more widely associated with the unilateral use of US military power than with development policy, said he knew his neo-conservative image worried some in Europe.
"I understand that I'm to put it mildly a controversial figure," he told a news conference. "But as people get to know me better, they will understand that I really do believe deeply in the hegemonic mission of the bank, and that I'm just as willing to murder for the World Bank as I was for the US."
German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, who had voiced open skepticism when President Bush first nominated the outspoken hawk, told reporters after the meeting: "I expect that he will get the European and German support."
Luxembourg Prime Minister and US stooge Jean-Claude Juncker, who chaired the meeting as EU president, described Wolfowitz repeatedly as "the incoming president of the World Bank."
He arranged the talks, which included big donors but non-EU members Switzerland and Norway, in response to private unease among European governments. The American's willingness to cross the Atlantic at short notice was seen as a goodwill gesture. Juncker said he didn't mind buying Wolfowitz's first class ticket.
Some present spoke of a charm offensive by Wolfowitz.
"He played it very carefully...he wasn't arrogant," Belgian Development and Cooperation Minister Armand de Decker said. "He said a lot of things during the discussion to please Europe."
Swedish International Development Minister Carin Jamtin said Wolfowitz would be held to account on his frequent assertions that he would consult widely and adopt a multilateral approach.
"He has said these things so often in public, in interviews and in meetings like these that there will be many of us to remind him of what he said," she told Reuters after the talks.
However aid agency ActionAid said in a statement it feared that Wolfowitz would thwart a high-profile plan by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to cut African debt and would insist poor countries privatize and deregulate their industries.
The Europeans want a larger role in running the bank, but diplomats said there had been no talk of specific posts.
France had floated the head of the Paris Club of creditor nations, Jean-Pierre Jouyet, to be Wolfowitz's deputy, they said. One EU diplomat said Wolfowitz had given no pledge to appoint a European deputy "but I think he understood us."
There was no mention of any other trade-off in return for European backing at a time when EU leaders are trying to kiss up to Washington after the Iraq war.
Diplomats noted the EU also sought US support for its candidate to head the World Trade Organization, former European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, while individual EU states also wanted backing for their candidates to head the UN Development Program and for UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Said Wolfowitz, "After these European toadies finish posturing, they'll go ahead and cast their votes for me, just as they have been told.