WASHINGTON – When President George W. Bush appointed Paul D. Wolfowitz as the president of the World Bank two years ago, the White House had to put down an insurrection among European nations that viewed the administration’s best-known neoconservative as a symbol of American unilateralism and arrogance. For a while, Wolfowitz seemed to defuse those fears, even taking on the Bush administration over how best to aid the poorest nations of Africa. But now it is clear that the chorus of calls in recent days for Wolfowitz’s ouster is only partially about his involvement in setting up a comfortable job, with a big pay raise, for a bank officer who is Wolfowitz’s companion. At its core, the fight about whether Wolfowitz should stay on at the bank is a debate about Bush and his tumultuous relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the bank, the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which have viewed themselves – at various moments since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – as being at war with the Bush White House and its agenda. As finance ministers gathered in Washington on Friday for the bank’s weekend meeting, Wolfowitz worked behind the scenes, seeking support for keeping his job. But there were few endorsements of his leadership beyond those offered by the Bush administration. In foreign capitals, and among the bank’s staff, it has been noted that Wolfowitz’s passion for fighting corruption, which he has said saps economic life from the world’s poorest nations, seemed to evaporate when it came to reviewing lending to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, three countries that the United States considers strategically vital. It was also noted that Wolfowitz relied most heavily not on experts in international development, but on a pair of aides who served with him at the Pentagon. Such decisions have contributed to what Nancy Birdsall, the president of the Center for Global Development, a group that monitors aid to the world’s poorest nations, described as “real doubts about Wolfowitz’s judgment.” Foreign officials on the bank’s board say they came to regard Wolfowitz’s approach as mirroring the Bush administration’s missteps. Wolfowitz came to the bank with heavy political baggage. By tradition since the bank was set up at the end of World War II, its president has always been an American, a fact that has engendered increasing resentment over time. That reaction was compounded when Bush selected Wolfowitz, who had served as deputy secretary of defense and an architect of the Iraq war. “It took a huge amount of effort to quiet this down,” a member of the bank’s Board of Governors and an early supporter of Wolfowitz, recalled Friday of the early insurrection. “And you would think, knowing that he was going into an institution that was deeply suspicious of him and the Bush administration, that he would have done everything he could to allay those concerns.” At first, Wolfowitz did so. He made Africa his first priority. He displayed a passion and energy for the work – much as he did as ambassador to Indonesia many years ago, where he immersed himself in the culture and took on a dictator, Suharto. Wolfowitz’s campaign against corruption was intellectually unassailable and quintessentially American, and he was certainly right as far as the facts were concerned, members of the bank’s staff and leadership say. But eventually his focus on that issue put him at odds with career officials at an institution that is famously resistant to outside influence, and which believes that fighting poverty has to come first, even if that means dealing with countries whose leaders are not above skimming a few millions of dollars along the way.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!