Roger L. Simon

Europeans, Wolfie and the WaPo

Reading the quotes from Europeans about the Paul Wolfowitz World Bank nomination in the Washington Post, you might wonder if democracy promotion means anything to them at all. Here’s the first one:

“We were led to believe that the neo-conservatives were losing ground,” said Michael Cox, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics. “But clearly the revolution is alive and well.” He added that despite recent efforts from Washington to mend relations, “Europeans are still inclined deep down to suspect the worst, and this appointment won’t go down too well.”

Worst of what? More scenes of a million people marching for democracy in the streets of Beirut, next time in Teheran maybe. Yes, Mr. Wolfowitz has a lot to be ashamed of Mr. Cox, doesn’t he? You need not be Sigmund Freud or his daughter to realize Euro academics of this stripe see Wolfowitz et al through a prism so distorted and contorted by envy they end up looking up their own nostrils. What will they say if five years from now the whole Middle East is democratic?

Well, who cares really? At least they’re angry and jealous, not dumb like the peabrain from Greenpeace who was quoted as follows: [It is] “a disaster to put the World Bank, which should be delivering sustainable development, into the hands of a man who clearly will put U.S. and oil industry interests first.” What are the odds this bozo has any idea what Wolfowitz’s ecological views are? A hundred to one? A thousand to one? A million to one? I’ll go with the latter but maybe the real motivation behind this inane comment is organizational fund-raising. [You’re being charitable.-ed. That’s what my mother taught me.]

More ominously, French Foreign Minister Michael Barnier responded this way to a reporter’s question: “It’s a proposal. We shall examine it in the context of the personality of the person you mention and perhaps in view of other candidates.”

No surprise there. Monsieur Barnier may actually have something to fear. He represents the country often regarded as one of the most corrupt in the developed world. I’d gamble on Wolfowitz being harder on kleptocrats than, say, Volcker will be at the UN. Not great news for the Chiracoisie. Of course, they may be on their way out anyway.

Giving the WaPo its due, they do end with what seems to be a pro-Wolfowitz quote:

Francois Heisbourg, a leading French defense analyst who knows Wolfowitz, said the first reaction of many is “fear and loathing,” but added, “Paul is a man who has intellectual depth. He’s not a one-agenda, single-point man.” He said that as U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz helped steer the country toward democracy.

“He does have the breadth of experience and range of interests that could serve him well in this kind of soft-power job,” Heisbourg said. “He’s probably more suited to this soft power position than his hard-power position at the Pentagon.”

Er… wait a minute. Wasn’t it that “hard-power position” that helped give Iraq a democracy which seems to be spreading all over the place? Shhh… Don’t tell the Washington Post. It might wake somebody up.

UPDATE: Austin Bay’s take on the Wolfowitz nomination here. As usual, I agree with him. [You guys do think alike on this stuff.-ed. Yes, but he has militar experience. I’m a chickenhawk.]

MORE: Normblog discusses the Guardian reaction.