Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cupid and Cupidity: MAUREEN DOWD - Wolfie and Shaha



Cupid and Cupidity

Published: April 18, 2007

Never has a star-crossed romance so perfectly illuminated a star-crossed conflict as the unfolding saga of Wolfie and Shaha.

There have been many tender love stories in war.

Ike and Kay. Pamela Harriman and Edward R. Murrow. Aeneas and Dido. Achilles and his tent temptation, Patroclus.

But my favorite is the unfolding saga of Wolfie and Shaha. Never has a star-crossed romance so perfectly illuminated a star-crossed conflict.

The weekend meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were consumed with the question of how the bank chief could fight corruption while indulging in cronyism. Who could focus on a weak yen when you had a weak Wolfie with a strong yen for Shaha?

In addition to the story about Paul Wolfowitz’s giving his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, a promotion and a $60,000 raise because he felt guilty that she had to be transferred from the World Bank to the State Department when he took over, The Times reported yesterday on more imperialist hanky-panky.

Steven Weisman and David Sanger wrote that in 2003, when Wolfie was No. 2 at the Pentagon, the office of his consigliere, Douglas Feith, directed a private contractor to hire Ms. Riza, then at the World Bank, to spend a month traveling in Iraq to study ways to set up the new government.

(It was simple to get the contractor, the Science Applications International Corporation, to play along. As Vanity Fair reported, the Pentagon awarded SAIC seven contracts valued at more than $100 million before the war, without competitive bidding. Mr. Feith’s deputy was Christopher Henry, a former SAIC senior vice president.)

Wolfie and Shaha did not let a little thing like World Bank rules — which barred the bank from providing economic assistance to an area under military occupation — keep them from pushing the neocon delusions.


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