Nine days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, I opened up The Washington Post and stared right into the flinty mind of one Robert B. Zoellick, the Bush administration’s pick for new World Bank president.
While the rest of the country was still in a haze of horror and confusion, Zoellick had seized the moment to advance his agenda as
Having failed to sell the legislation on its merits, Zoellick had moved with breathtaking speed to take advantage of public fears and pressure on lawmakers to stand with the president during a national crisis.
In a speech at the Institute for International Economics four days later, Zoellick really let loose by insinuating that there were links between the September 11 terrorists and anti- globalization protestors.
‘In the wake of the shock of 13 days ago, many people will struggle to understand why terrorists hate the ideas
Zoellick’s hardball tactics worked. President George W. Bush, and President Bill Clinton before him, had tried in vain to renew fast track (now re-branded Trade Promotion Authority), which allows the Executive Branch to negotiate new deals that Congress must vote up or down. Anger over the negative impacts of existing pacts, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), on jobs and the environment had prevented both presidents from obtaining this authority.
But the new ‘fight terrorism with trade’ sales pitch helped turn the controversial trade bill into a test of wartime patriotism. It passed by one vote in the House of Representatives.
By fueling paranoia about free trade critics, Zoellick helped secure Department of Homeland Security funds to deploy 2,500 law enforcement personnel in
That same fall, Zoellick had aimed verbal bullets at developing country leaders who refused to embrace his trade agenda. In a Financial Times commentary, Zoellick accused
Casting all pretense of diplomacy aside, Zoellick accused
This time, the hardball approach didn’t work as well. During his remaining year and a half as chief trade negotiator, Zoellick was unable to revive the WTO talks, which remain stalled today. His jabs at
Critics of corporate-driven trade agendas celebrated Zoellick’s failures as a trade negotiator. Since he was deaf not only to the concerns of many developing country governments, but also to those of civil society groups in the
But is a tone-deaf, name-calling steely opportunist a good choice to lead the World Bank? The Bank’s official mission, after all, is to fight global poverty, not promote
For more than 60 years, however, the
[Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in