Staff Rebellion Brewing
Wolfowitz, architect of America's failing foray into Iraq as Rumsfeld's
former Deputy at the Pentagon, now heads the World Bank and finally seems like
his true self is coming out of the closet.
In recent months, picking up steam in recent weeks, there has been a massive
exodus of top talent from the World Bank. According to reports, the senior Ethics
Officer at the Bank has departed. Also on the exit roster are the Vice President
for East Asia & Pacific, the Chief Legal Counsel, the Bank's top Managing
Director, the Director of Institutional Integrity (which monitors internal and
external corruption), the Vice President for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable
Development, and the head of ISG (Information Solutions Group).
According to one senior insider who feels as if Wolfowitz is gut-punching the
most talented teams at the bank and indicated that morale is plummeting, "Wolfowitz
just does not talk to his Vice Presidents. He speaks to a few close advisors
Kellems, Robin Cleveland,
Jackson, some others -- but a lot of very good people are leaving."
What Wolfowitz has done that has started a serious wave of negative sentiment
against him among his ranks is that he has appointed Kevin Kellems -- Vice President
Cheney's former Communications Director and Spokesman -- as a "director"
of the bank, which formally reports to a Vice President of the Bank -- while
at the same time making him Senior Advisor to Wolfowitz.
In other words, Wolfowitz is forcing a political appointment at the "director
level" of the bank -- which is never done. "Director" positions
are fairly low in the World Bank bureaucracy and are filled by a competitive
process and the merits of one's work -- not political imposition.
However, Wolfowitz on January 10, 2006 made Kellems Director of Strategy in
the External Affairs, Communications and United Nations Affairs Vice Presidency
while at the same time Senior Advisor to the President of the Bank.
In addition, the senior Bank staff are bristling at the behavior and antics
of Robin Cleveland, a long-time aide to Senator Mitch McConnell who was considered
by this writer to be one of the few genuinely monstrous personalities among
Congressional staff. She has been shaking World Bank staff and programs on governance
and anti-corruption agendas "in her normal, predictable tirade-style"
according to one senior World Bank official.
The irony here is that Robin Cleveland was herself deeply involved in the Boeing
tanker ethics mess. While soliciting then Secretary of the Air Force James Roche
to help her brother get a job at Northrop Grumman, Roche wroter her a reply
after receiving his resume:
Be well. Smile. Give tankers (Oops, did I say that? My new deal is terrific.)
While the Financial Times reported
that Roche was found guilty of breaching defense department ethics rules, the
Pentagon inspector general did not have the authority to inveestigate Robin
Senior bank staff see Wolfowitz withdrawing from his team and senior players
-- and relying instead on a group of political zealots -- Wolfowitz's "dobermans"
one staffer told TWN.
Here are some comments that have been shared with TWN this morning and yesterday:
"Wolfowitz is not talking to his VPs. He is withdrawing -- and instead
using Robin Cleveland and the likes of Kevin Kellems to do his bidding, and
they are building massive ill will inside the Bank."
"He is appointing political hacks into positions that should be filled
by highly qualified personnel through competitive and transparent processes."
"Cleveland and Wolfowitz talk about anti-corruption and good governance,
but she herself was in the midst of the Boeing tanker scandal and he is appointing
a hack at the director level, circumventing the VP, and making this same hack
his Senior Adviser. Cleveland in particular rankles as she is the single most
arrogant and abusive person at the senior level of the bank without anything
to be arrogant about. She makes John Bolton look sheepish."
"Wolfowitz is Sovietizing the bank by placing his political watch dogs
in key positions in the bank -- and is more interested in political symbolism
than the substantive work and challenges of the Bank."
What is clear to TWN is that whatever honeymoon Paul Wolfowitz had
at the World Bank -- externally and internally -- is over. ANY major bureaucracy
will resist change and attempt to thwart some of the more extensive objectives
of its leader. So, some of this resentment of Wolfowitz may be similar to the
same kind of resistance that James Wolfensohn encountered when he was shifting
things around inside the institution.
However, after having recently listened to Karl Jackson at an informal lunch
where Jackson recounted his work on Indonesia and interaction with Paul Wolfowitz,
with whom Jackson is very close, I have concerns about the quality of interaction
between Wolfowitz and other senior level personalities in the Bank's hierarchy.
I can't comment on Jackson's precise comments as they were not for attribution
-- but I got a "feel" for some of the problems that others have been
Jackson now serves as an advisor to Wolfowitz and is a former colleague at
the Johns Hopkins/Nitze School of Advanced International Studies where Wolfowitz
served as Dean. But after just mentioning the names Robin Cleveland and Kevin
Kellems to a few Bank staff in phone interviews, people gushed with resentment
against them and Paul Wolfowitz.
This simmering tension between Wolfowitz and his staff seems to be deeper and
more serious than even the drama of staff reorganization can explain.
Wolfowitz may be showing his stripes now -- and may be finally tilting the
Bank into a groove where it becomes a harsher instrument of U.S. foreign policy
-- rewarding friends and punishing those who don't fall into lockstep behind
George W. Bush's vision.