Friday, March 18, 2005

The Peter Principle, Cubed 

Jugears the Incompetent ClownOnce past the triple-headed guardian of the Salon gates (this week it's Target) you can read a couple very incisive pieces on the curious development that has become the Wolfowitz in World Bank Wonderland fairy tale.

The first is Mr. Magoo goes to the World Bank, a very funny bit by Michael Lind that starts off with this:
"Wolfowitz is the Mr. Magoo of American foreign policy. Like the myopic cartoon character, Wolfowitz stumbles onward blindly and serenely, leaving wreckage and confusion behind.
Critics are wrong to portray Wolfowitz as a malevolent genius. In fact, he's friendly, soft-spoken, well meaning and thoughtful. He would be the model of a scholar and a statesman but for one fact: He is completely inept. His three-decade career in U.S. foreign policy can be summed up by the term that President Bush coined to describe the war in Iraq that Wolfowitz promoted and helped to oversee: a "catastrophic success."
Even the greatest statesman makes some mistakes. But Wolfowitz is perfectly incompetent. He is the Mozart of ineptitude, the Einstein of incapacity. To be sure, he has his virtues, the foremost of which is consistency. He has been consistently wrong about foreign policy for 30 years."
Joe Conason's aptly named Head Scratcher hits the same note, but in a more sober assessment of Wolfie's financial acumen as applied to overseeing the Pentagon's use of funds:
"Two months ago the GAO again singled out the Pentagon for harsh criticism, reporting that it operates eight of the 25 worst-run government programs. Comptroller General David Walker said that the cost is reckoned "in billions of dollars in waste each year and inadequate accountability to the Congress and the American taxpayer." The failures, which have persisted for many years, relate to financial and contract management, the operation of military infrastructure, and the modernization of Pentagon information technology -- which, in short, are a total mess."
He ties this in to the huge corruption pit which Iraq is fast becoming:
"A newly released report from Transparency International, the Berlin-based organization that monitors corrupt practices around the world, warns that Iraqi contracting may soon become "the biggest corruption scandal in history." The group blames the United States for providing "a poor role model" in contracting and auditing. (They've likely heard about Halliburton.)
Waste, fraud and corruption, those perennial government buzzwords, are indeed the most pressing problems for the World Bank as it seeks to reform development aid. So it is difficult to understand why the president -- or any truly compassionate conservative -- would entrust those enormous concerns to someone with Wolfowitz's grim and blemished record."
Hard to believe Paul still hasn't reached the ultimate level of his incompetence. Bush evidently has faith that he will.

And of course, Bush should know.

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