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December 20, 2004
World Bank Chief Talking Transition

James Wolfensohn woke up his World Bank employees during an otherwise unremarkable end-of-year speech last week, when he suddenly mentioned "leadership succession", according to the Wshington Post's Al Kamen:

"I would like to report to you on the Senior Management Team's annual 'strategic forum,' " he began, apparently in a desperate bid to reduce his audience. He droned on for a while about meeting "Millennium Development Goals," or, as we say in the biz, MDGs, and such.

Then, just toward the end, came this:

"I know that there is anxiety regarding leadership succession at the Bank." Oh, really? "We can expect clarity on the situation early in the new year, and I have no doubt that we will make an effective transition."

Translation: Colin Powell becomes available after Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings for her appointment as Secretary of State. After she wins Senate approval, expect to see Powell approached to replace Wolfensohn. Powell has demurred from electoral politics, declining to be drafted to run against Hillary Clinton for the 2006 Senate race in New York, but he has not ruled out continued public service.

Will Powell accept? Hard to say. The New York Times reported this notion back in April, and then the AP reported on massive corruption at the World Bank. As I wrote at the time, I can't really see Powell lending his sterling reputation to such a morass, but perhaps Powell will see it as a challenge to be conquered. A victory at the World Bank might go quite a ways to reforming its parent institution, the UN, as well. Being a supporter of the UN, the temptation for Powell may be too strong to resist.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 20, 2004 10:08 AM

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