Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Heckuva Job, Zelly!

Proving yet again that Neocons will screw up boiling a pot of water, Robert Zoellick’s World Bank is mired ijn unprecedented corruption with its Indian projects:
• In the $54 million "Food and Drug Capacity Building Project," for which money is still being disbursed, the INT found "questionable procurement practices, some of which indicate fraud and corruption, in contracts representing 87 percent of the number of pieces and 88 percent of the total value of equipment procured." That is nearly $9 of every $10 in aid funds.
• For the $194 million "Second National AIDS Control Project," the INT discovered that "some of the test kits supplied by particular companies often performed poorly by producing erroneous or invalid results, potentially resulting in the further spread of disease."
• In the $114 million "Malaria Control Project," the review found "numerous indicators of poor product quality in the bed nets supplied by the firms." And in the $125 million "Tuberculosis Control Project," the INT discovered "bidders sharing the same address and telephone numbers, unit prices showing a common formula, and indicators of intent to split contract awards among several bidders."
• After visiting 55 hospitals connected to the bank's $82 million "Orissa Health Systems Development Project" (Orissa is one of India's poorest states), INT investigators found "uninitiated and uncompleted work, severely leaking roofs, crumbling ceilings, molding walls, and non-functional water, sewage, and/or electrical systems." It also found "neonatal equipment that lacked adequate electrical grounding, potentially exposing babies and their medical staff to electrical shocks."

No one could have anticipated this!!! Well, almost no one! I questioned Pres. Bush’s pick of Zoellick back in May, when he was named to replace Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank. Wolfowitz, if you remember, was forced out after an embarassing scandal involving his girlfriend.

No one could have anticipated that, either!!

The truth is, the Bushies have always looked down on international bodies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the UN. Anything that smacks of a cooperative effort by wealthy nations to aid developing countries--you know, all that icky Socialist-sounding stuff left over from the post-WWII era--has received nothing but scorn from the Bush Administration. Predictably, such organizations have been the ideal pasture for their inconvenient Neocon loyalists. Hey, why not? No one pays attention to what’s going on at these places, anyway. If a Neocon or his girlfriend or an important western corporation gets rich in the process, so much the better!

There’s simply no respect for the mission of these organizations, so why not put a crony in the top post? Who cares if there’s a misuse of funds?

I have a lot of problems with the World Bank, don’t get me wrong; for one thing, more often than not their loans support projects that will benefit Western businesses, not the local communities. But putting a corporate Neocon crony in charge doesn’t really solve that problem, does it? Indeed, it simply ensures the problem will continue.

And that, of course, was the entire point all along.