WASHINGTON -- March 16 -- "We are deeply concerned that the controversial nomination of US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to be President of the World Bank sends the wrong message to the world. Given Wolfowitz's record and public statements, we fear that his nomination signals a move towards an even stronger push for harmful economic policies and large-infrastructure projects (which often come at tremendous cost to the natural environment) at the World Bank.
Wolfowitz's role in promoting economic changes in Iraq and elsewhere suggest he would work to push the Bank to focus even more on imposing so-called 'structural adjustment' policies like forced privatization and indiscriminate trade liberalization, policies which have failed to create growth and have exacerbated poverty across the globe. Jubilee USA Network calls on the IMF/World Bank to stop imposing such policies.
Though a very controversial nomination, perhaps the silver lining of the choice is that Wolfowitz was a leading advocate for canceling Iraq's debt, describing that nation's debt in public statements in a way to indicate that it was odious. We call on Wolfowitz to be consistent and work as President of the World Bank to push for the cancellation of the odious and illegitimate debts of nations across the global South including nations with clearly odious debts such as Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina, and the Philippines. Given his prior role as US Ambassador to Indonesia under President Reagan, Wolfowitz knows firsthand that much of Indonesia's debt -- pushed on the country by the US and other creditors and taken out by the dictator Suharto -- did not benefit the people, is clearly odious, and should be cancelled outright on such grounds.
Furthermore, we have strong concerns about the process by which the President of the World Bank is selected. If the World Bank is a development organization of more than 180 member nations, as it claims, it is unacceptable for one nation to unilaterally select its leader.
Regardless of who the head of the World Bank is, Jubilee USA Network will continue its campaign for the IMF and World Bank to enact 100% multilateral debt cancellation for all impoverished nations without harmful conditions. We will pursue this goal with public events, advocacy, and public mobilization at the upcoming April 15-17 meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington, DC."