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May 21, 2007 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-05-21

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Monday, May 21, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


The end of an era

The bank that mired Wolf

J just over a year, we will
find ourselves living in a
post-Bush era.
A post-Bush era - the phrase
comes with What we
a built- need is an era
i sigh of
relief and of political
a promise compromise.
for long-
change. We willsoon see, though,
how much change America is
actually ready to handle. .
The next president will have
to face many important issues
that currently hang in the bal-
ance. America can make progress
in countering global warming or
continue to treat it as a less-than-
serious problem.
Women can enjoy the freedom
ofRoe v. Wade or find their repro-
ductive rights severely limited.
We may see many of our peers
being sent off to Iraq, or we may
be lucky enough to welcome them
In addition to possibly enact-
ing different policy, we may find
a president who even looks differ-
ent than those of the past. With a
white woman and a black man in
the race, America finally has the
chance to diversify its history of
middle-aged, white, male politi-
of course, these differences
inevitably raise questions: Is
America ready for a president
that is a woman or a black man?
In an age of war and terrorism,
can America deal with such a
drastic break in tradition?
My answer to that question is
that it's actually the wrong ques-
tion to ask. With partisan politics
playing more and more of a role,
the issue isn't if America is ready
for a physically different presi-
dent, but rather is it ready for an
ideologically different one?
During the past eight years,
we have witnessed a new and
dangerous level of partisanship.
Instead of uniting people to pro-
mote a common agenda, politics
have become a divisive tool to
advance an agenda for only a
few. Everything has been politi-
cized, including science, religion,
even our own bodies, and we've
become more politically intoler-
ant in the process.
Even in Ann Arbor, where we
trumpet the value of constructive
dialogue, how many times can we

honestly say we have engaged in a
respectful debate with people of
different viewpoints? How often
do we seek out news from sourc-
es offering different perspec-
tives? The party line has turned
into a party wall, restricting the
flow of ideas while we sequester
ourselves on our own respective
However, I've managed to find
some hope for moving past par-
tisanship. Strangely enough for
a blue-state liberal, I found my
hope in the Republican presiden-
tial contender Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani, while far from per-
fect, stands for a sort of ideo-
logical break in how politics
today are conducted. Instead
of pandering to the standard
Republican agenda, he has reaf-
firmed his support for gay rights,
abortion rights and gun control,
even though it may cost him con-
siderable conservative support.
Giuliani offers the possibility
of compromise and respect for
other viewpoints, an essential
quality in any leader.
Similarly, I respect Sen. Joe
Lieberman (I--Conn.) for retain-
ing his pro-war stance despite
caucusing with the increasingly
anti-war Democrats. Likewise,
Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.)
support for immigrant rights is a
courageous break from his party
Regardless of whether I agree
with them, it's refreshing to see
politicians who do not strictly
pander to their party just to
make sure they get elected.
To overcome the bitterness
of the last eight years, we need
a candidate willing to respect
viewpoints from across the aisle,
one who will work toward bipar-
tisan compromise.
Similarly, citizens must also
start thinking independently and
engaging in respectful dialogue
with people of different views in
order to break through the parti-
san divide.
With an article in The New
York Times last Thursday pro-
claiming Giuliani ahead of his
opponents in the polls and the
Senate's recent agreement on a
new bipartisan immigration bill,
maybe we won't even have to
wait for a post-Bush era to begin
a new era of compromise.
Rachel Wagner can be reached
at rachwag@umich.edu.

Throughout his term, Pres-
ident Bush has repeatedly
surprised and alarmed
many with his audacious appoint-
ments of
loyalists to With Wolfie
for which gone, Bush
they didn't must choose
appear wisely
well suit-
ed. The
nominations of John Negroponte
- who was complicit with human
rights abuses in Honduras when
he was ambassador there - and
then John Bolton - a notorious
critic of the United Nations, but
more visibly the guy with that
ridiculous moustache - as U.S.
representatives to the U.N. were
particularly egregious examples.
If Bush really wanted to
send a message, he should have
appointed Michael Bolton. His
soaring renditions of "How Am I
Supposed To Live Without You"
and "Can I Touch You...There"
would have melted the hearts of
the Security Council and General
Assembly alike. The Iranians and
North Koreans would have sought
rapprochement within minutes,
begging for mercy.
less soulful. His 2005 nomination
of Paul Wolfowitz for president of
the World Bank was viewed with
great suspicion and only reluc-
tantly accepted by the Europeans,
who traditionally choose the IMF
leader while accepting the World
Bank leader chosen by America.
Wolfowitz's selection seemed a
particularly bad fit for an osten-
sibly multilateral institution with
global development aims, given
his key roles in narrowly serv-
ing U.S. interests, most notably
as a hawkish architect of the Iraq
Yes, yes. We will target the few,
and yetterrify the many. f

Wolfowitz's resignation as
World Bank president is the best
outcome for the future of the Bank
and international development.
But there will be many things
to miss about Wolfie. There will
be no more "Crying Wolf" head-
lines, ubiquitous and gratuitous
as they've been of late (yes, I'm a
Wolfowitz also shows us that
love has no boundaries (it's tax
free, too). The actual ethics viola-
tion involvingthe transfer and pay
raise for his girlfriend Shaha Riza
seems a minor point in the scheme
of things. But there is something
touching about the uniting of two
unlikely individuals - an Arab
feminist and a Jewish neo-conser-
vative - who seemed to share sin-
cere and laudable goals, although
regrettably bound together by a
love of power.
Wolfowitz indeed, has some
important qualities. It was brave
of him, while addressing a pro-
Israel rally in Washington D.C. on
April 15, 2002, to say that Israe-
lis "are not the only victims of
the violence in the Middle East ...
innocent Palestinians are suffer-
ing and dying in great numbers as
well. It is critical that we recog-
nize and acknowledge that fact."
The crowd booed this remark.
Regarding his tenure at the
Bank, some African leaders
were reportedly impressed by
his vision. He also took a clear
stand in a July 2006 letter urg-
ing wealthy countries to cut farm
subsidies that hurt the exports of
poorer countries.
However, as The New York
Times wrote, his decision to sus-
pend "a program in Uzbekistan
after the country denied landing
rights to American military air-

craft" illustrates how at "critical
moments he was putting Ameri-
can foreign policy interests first."
He also "directed huge amounts
of aid to the countries he once
recruited to sign on to Washing-
ton's counterterrorism agenda."
Wolfowitz's ideological bedfel-
lows make predictable arguments
inhis support. Take this gem from
The Wall Street Journal:
"Mr. Wolfowitz has tried
to institute more accountabil-
ity, especially on corruption. Who
could be against fighting corrup-
tion? Well, for starters, a global
poverty industry that thinks 'gov-
ernance' is a distraction from the
only real measure of development,
which is how much money 'rich'
nations choose to redistribute to
poor ones. Never mind that many
of these countries stay poor year
after year precisely because they
squander or steal foreign aid."
A contrasting perspective is
offered by the leftist magazine
The Nation, which decries the
Bank as "the global equivalent
of a mob enforcer coming in to
break the knees of the sovereign
nations that do not march to the
drum beat of the wealthy nations
that own it."
If the Bank wants a strong
meritocracy with effective lead-
ership, it must reject its closed
and political appointment pro-
cess that turned it into a mecha-
nism for realpolitik. For this to
happen, the presidency should
be offered to innovators like the
Peace Prize winner Muhammed
But I won't be holding my
Devadatta Gandhi can be
reached at debu@umich.edu.

Their papers will spread the word let hbe kown
until not a soul dares todefy us l b

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