Former Clinton advisor Jamie Rubin has a piece in The New York Times on why Paul Wolfowitz is the right man for the World Bank. Rubin is typically critical of Wolfowitz’s role in Iraq, but as he notes:
His motives [towards Iraq] were laudable and in line with a tradition of foreign policy idealism that both parties have supported at different times: the use of American power to fight tyranny and support democratic values. Mr. Wolfowitz was one of the few Republicans who supported President Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The neoconservative movement is distinctive in part for its willingness to expend American resources – military and economic – to promote democratic change. Mr. Wolfowitz has shown poor judgment in significant military matters, and that is a legitimate critique. But at the World Bank, he will be leading not an army but a painstaking campaign to build respect for the rule of law, openness and good governance through development projects and international cooperation. He will be doing something that Democratic presidents from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton have supported – and that today’s Democrats should support, too.
I have to agree with Mr. Rubin here. Wolfowitz has long been a fighter for democratic values, even when it’s been against the perceived interests of the United States. When the US was offering tacit support to the Hussein regime in the 1980s, Wolfowitz was one of the very few who spoke out against it. History has sinced judged Wolfowitz’s instincts to have been utterly correct.
The incomparable Christopher Hitchens weighs in as well to support Wolfowitz’s candidacy to the World Bank:
I can’t exactly say that I know the man, but on the occasions that I have met him I have been very struck by the difference between his manner and the amazing volleys of obloquy and abuse that have been flung at him. (This is made easier, for savants such as Maureen Dowd, by the fact that the first four letters of his surname spell an animal that is known in nursery rhymes to be big and bad. How satirical can one possibly get?) The truth is, he’s a bit bleeding heart for my taste, even though I know some very tough Kurdish and Iraqi and Iranian and Lebanese antifascist militants who would welcome him as a blood-brother. No shame in that, I think.
Paul Wolfowitz is a true believer in the values of civil society, sound governance, and human liberty. From his position as Ambassador to Indonesia to his current position as Deputy Secretary of Defense, Wolfowitz has done his utmost to preserve, defend, and expand those values. There is little doubt that the slurs against him are completely and utterly misguided and based on a distortion of his true self. Wolfowitz is the right man for the World Bank at this crucial time.