Meet the press

Yesterday, I did a post about World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz’s speech to the National Press Club on the role of trade in reducing poverty in Africa and other underdeveloped regions. Today, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has an account of the speech, or rather its atmospherics — the substance of Wolfowitz’s remarks about trade and poverty is of no interest to Milbank. In fact, Milbank seems to consider it evasive of the World Bank President to deliver a speech about issues relating to the Bank’s mission, when he could have been, in Milbank’s phrase, saying he was sorry for the war in Iraq.

The atmospherics of the speech are of interest, though. The president of the National Press Club, Business Week’s Richard Dunham, deemed it appropriate to include in his introduction of the speaker the fact that Wolfowitz received a student deferment during the war in Vietnam. And one of the questions to Wolfowitz apparently attempted to “tie the Nuremburg war [crimes] trial to Wolfowitz.”

For his part, Milbank twice refers to Wolfowtiz’s prediction that U.S. forces would be welcomed by Iraqis as liberators. The fact is that many Iraqis, particularly Shiites and Kurds, did so welcome us when we overthrew Saddam Hussein. But even if one disputes this judgment, Milbank’s account suggests that Wolfowitz was further off the mark if he believed he would be welcomed with civility by the National Press Club.

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