March 27, 2005


Wolfowitz Dating Muslim Woman Causes Stir (Barbara Ferguson, 3/23/05, Arab News)

Here’s a bit of news that had Washingtonians choking on their coffee this morning: President Bush’s neoconservative hawk Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s architect of the US invasion of Iraq, is dating a Muslim!

While battle lines have hardened over President Bush’s nomination of Wolfowitz to become president of the World Bank, what many say is really fueling the controversy is concern within the bank over Wolfowitz’s reported romantic relationship with Shaha Ali Riza, an Arab feminist who is the acting manager for External Relations and Outreach for the Middle East and North Africa Region at the World Bank.

Political foes of Wolfowitz portray him as a leader of Washington’s Jewish neo-conservatives driving a blindly pro-Israel policy in the Middle East. Critics have also noted that his sister, Laura, a biologist, lives in Israel and has an Israeli husband.

But Wolfowitz, a married father of three, is said to be so blinded by his relationship with Riza, that influential members of the World Bank believe she played a key role in influencing the Pentagon official to launch the 2003 Iraq war. As his trusted confident, she is said to be one of most influential Muslims in Washington. [...]

A Wolfowitz opponent at the World Bank told a reporter: “Unless Riza gives up her job, this will be an impossible conflict of interest.”

Wolfowitz married his wife Clare Selgin in 1968. But they have lived separately since 2001, after allegations he had an affair with an employee at the School of Advanced International Studies where he was dean for seven years. They are now believed to be legally separated. [...]

[W]olfowitz’s only comment on the complaints has been a terse statement issued through a Pentagon spokesman. He said: “If a personal relationship presents a potential conflict of interest, I will comply with bank policies to resolve the issue.”

Adultery should be a firing offense, but is the Left really going to argue that his friendship with a Muslim disqualifies him?

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 27, 2005 6:25 PM

And to think, Wolfowitz's most strident opponents thought there weren't any influential Muslims in Washington.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 27, 2005 11:08 PM

Is author claiming that a Muslin was strongly in favor of the invasion of Iraq? I can't believe Arab News would report something like that.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at March 27, 2005 11:42 PM

"Adultery should be a firing offense."

"You didn't think so when Bill Clinton was involved."

"Well, you see, this is different. Real different. And much worse. You just can't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly different this is. Wolfowitz is a neocon, and that makes all the difference in the world."

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 28, 2005 6:28 AM

Huge difference.

Clinton was/is a predator of powerless women. Wolfowitz and Riza are two adults. Both have said they will abide by the provisions of his new job.

What's the problem?

Posted by: erp at March 28, 2005 9:02 AM

Um, the key is that his girlfriend is working manager at the World Bank. Hence the unnamed source's comment that it would be a conflict of interest if Wolfwoitz heads the World Bank. I'm sure the same thing would come up whether the woman was Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or atheist.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 28, 2005 10:34 AM

I thought it was supposed to be a capital offense.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at March 30, 2005 4:46 PM