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Robert Zoellick confirmed as the new president of the World Bank (by Bush)

Simon White | 26.06.2007 04:15 | Analysis | Globalisation

With Wolfowitz gone comes the possibility of real change in the Bank. As Zoellick is picked to lead the World Bank, an analysis of his past achievements can predict his future role in the bank, and the possibility of any significant changes of direction for the Bank

Like most high up in the World Bank, Robert Zoellick is highly qualified, holding both a doctorate of law and a master of public policy degree, both from Harvard. After serving as a law clerk for a year he joined government under Reagen, working for the treasury department. When Bush snr. came to office, Zoellick worked in Economic and Agricultural Affairs, before being promote to White House Deputy Chief of Staff, and was Bush's personal representative in the G7 economic summits. A personal representative of George Bush snr. in the current administration? Shocking ;-)

When Clinton was elected he lost his position in government, he became the executive vice president at the Federal National Mortgage Association, . In 1998 he was a cosignatory on a letter from the project for a new american century (including richard perle, donald rumsfeld, paul wolfowitz, and many in the current administration) advising bill clinton [and a later letter the house of representatives and senate] to go to war with iraq. the principal objectives of this group, he endorsed, are to increase defense spending to fight simultaneous wars for americas interests, and to facilitate free trade abroad.

like many neoliberals from the project for a new american century, he served in the Bush administration as a US trade representative ambassador. He successfully persuaded Vietnam and Jordan into free trade agreements, as well as facilitating the integration of China and Taiwan into the WTO. The creation of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement), against the protests of many in Central America, was also another project he worked hard to create, along with the legal export of GM foods to the EU. He also helped to draft a privatisation bill in Japan. Here he promoted classic neoliberal/modernisation theorist doctrines of free trade, exactly as described in the aims of the project for a new american century. By encouraging GM crops to increase trade he highlights already his likely environmental stance at the bank.

For these 'sucesses' he was promote to Deputy Secretary of State in 2005. Here he visited Dafur, wearing a wristband saying 'not on my watch', and was seen as a major achitecht of the peace plan. He then quit, drawing praise from several human rights charities for his efforts with the plan. Obviously the peace plan didn't last long, collapsing a few short months after it was signed (and Zoellick quit), which unfortunately could well be a reflection on his peacekeeping abilities. After he quit he began work as a managing director at Goldman Sachs (alongside the current white house cheif of staff, Joshua Bolton), which 'coincidentally' received $1.6 billion in subsidies. He also sat of the advisory board for Enron, of course famous for institutionalised systematic accounting fraud. This does not bode well for the responsibilities of his new career...

all things considered Zoellick appears to be just another neoliberal politician promoting the values of free trade and privatisation, who has worked for all of the republican governments for the last 20 years. The possibility of big changes in the bank, based upon his past seem non existent.


Simon White
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