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Wolfowitz: Mission Accomplished?

04/14/2007 12:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As Paul Wolfowitz is proving, it turns out all is
not fair in love and war. Only war. Take a nation to war for spurious
reasons and no one much complains. But arrange a raise for your girlfriend,
and you get booed in the atrium of the World Bank and have to visibly sweat
in public. As Henry Kissinger might have told Wolfowitz, kill a million
people, no problemo. Show favoritism in the office and it's auf Wiedersehen.

The Wolfowitz Rule, as it shall now be called, was
applied to its eponymous creator when he was transferred from the Pentagon,
where he was deputy secretary of defense, to the World Bank, where he
became its president. That office is always filled by an American since
America provides the largest share of the bank's capital. I can tell you
this with absolute certainty, but after that, I have to admit, I quickly
run out of knowledge about the World Bank. It makes loans to the third
world counties, or something like that. All I know is that I lived in
Washington for 28 years and never once saw an ATM for the World Bank. Go
figure.

Anyway, the bank is where you go after you fuck up at the
Pentagon. Robert McNamara went to the World Bank after directing the
Vietnam war which, he later admitted, he knew at the time the U.S. could
not win. He was, as always, right.

Wolfowitz made an admission of his own regarding Iraq. He told
Vanity Fair that the stated reason for the war - all those awful weapons of
mass destruction - hardly mattered to him and, it seems, other neo-cons as
well. It was merely "the one issue everyone could agree on," he said.
As you can imagine, the world bankers were not thrilled
with Wolfie. Truth to tell, they are not thrilled with the Bush
administration in general and, to be parochial about it, its hostile view of
international organizations, of which the World Bank is one. But the
president gets his way and the president named Wolfie and everything was
peachy with one exception: Wolfowitz's girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, already
worked at the World Bank. What to do? So after saying (but not actually
doing) that he had consulted with ethics officers, Wolfie arranged for his
girlfriend to be transferred to the State Department - and to get a raise
of more than $60,000 a year.

Now, we must pause to say that this scandal tells you quite
a bit about Washington. In the first place, anywhere else in the world, the
"girlfriend" would be some ditz -- a non-typing, non-filing, non-working
pretty thing who owed her job to a nifty arrangement of body parts. Not in
Washington, though. Ms. Riza is a highly-educated (London School of
Economics, Oxford University) person who is fluent in French, Italian,
Arabic, Turkish and English and can probably, when plied with enough wine,
wax rhapsodic on the appalling agricultural policies of the Bangladeshi
government. This is invariably the sort of woman who I sat next to at every
dinner party I attended in Washington and to whom you do not dare say,
should the moment or the wine seize you, "Your eyes are like deep pools of
love."

Second, the money. In any other world capital a raise to
$193,590 would hardly be thought scandalous. This is lunch for some hedge
fund types, a hour or so on a Net Jet, a little car for the little lady, a
bauble for the sec'y or, should the wage earner be a woman, a dress from
Betty at Bergdorf's, a fur or, if you are really splurging, arugula at Elie
Zabar's emporium on the Upper East Side. But Washington is relentlessly
middle class - both in morality and money which is why, if you concentrate
too much on this scandal, you will fall into a deep sleep.

At this writing - a phrase I've always wanted to write
-Wolfowitz is hanging on by his proverbial thumbs. The world bankers are
furious at him and will, if they can, use the present scandal as a way of
getting back at Bush - for both being Bush (his greatest mistake) and for
inflicting Wolfowitz on them.

As for Wolfowitz himself, you must take pity on the man. He
confused war with love and thought if he could do what he wanted with the
former he could do what he wanted with the latter. Now, he has learned his
lesson.

Mission, as they say, accomplished.