IN OTHER WORDS: Road ahead

When Paul Wolfowitz speaks publicly these days, he is usually making good sense. The head of the World Bank (formerly No. 2 at the Pentagon) has criticised Chinese banks for ignoring environmental and human rights standards when they lend to Africa, told the White House it needs to do more to alleviate African poverty, and has vowed that corrupt officials won’t be allowed to siphon off money from projects that are supposed to benefit the poor. So why do so many people at the bank mistrust him — including many of the leading shareholders?

Wolfowitz and his aides did a poor job explaining their decisions to suspend or delay hundreds of millions of dollars in loans because of alleged corruption, feeding fears that they were settling scores. The bank needs to give more of a voice to less wealthy and poor countries. It needs to find new ways to mobilise private sector financing. And it needs to get more deeply involved in addressing global challenges like epidemics, sustainable energy and post-conflict reconstruction. Wolfowitz will have to work harder to earn the trust of his staff, his shareholders and everyone who cares about development. He needs a more inclusive management style and a more diplomatic inner circle. That way he would have the credibility to fight the good fight.