I spent my recent flight from LA to New York engrossed in Charlie
Wilson’s War, a rip-roaring book by George Crile about the CIA’s operations
in Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet invasion there. Charlie Wilson reminds
me of no one so much as Alan Clark, the English politician
and diarist: both of them behaved atrociously but somehow got away with it through
being utterly up-front about their personal failings.
Randall Tobias is the opposite of Charlie Wilson: his peccadilloes
pale in comparison to Wilson’s, but his hypocrisy is far worse. Lawrence
As the top U.S. official responsible for development, and the former head
of the multi-billion-dollar President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR), Tobias was responsible for overseeing implementation of the "Anti-Prostitution
Under the pledge, organizations that receive USAID or PEPFAR funds must adopt
specific positions opposing prostitution. Health providers, humanitarian organizations,
and AIDS advocates have argued (for example, in a May 2005 letter to President
Bush signed by 200 groups) that the pledge impedes their efforts to win the
trust of those people who are most likely to contract and spread HIV.
According to Nandini Oomman, director of CGD’s HIV/AIDS Monitor, these
restrictions undermine HIV prevention efforts, by prohibiting organizations
that receive U.S. funds from providing services, such as condoms and HIV testing
and counseling, to women involved in sex work–precisely those women who need
these services the most. Worse, the pledge bars recipient NGOs from helping
such women using funds from other donors.
MacDonald does recognize that Tobias’s immediate resignation was not a foregone
conclusion, and says that he "looks like a hero" in comparison to
Paul Wolfowitz, who is stubbornly refusing to resign unless
and until he is cleared of all wrongdoing.
Wolfowitz, inerestingly, served in much the same role under George
W Bush as Alan Clark did under Margaret Thatcher.
If accused of wrongdoing, Clark would always be open and never be defensive.
Maybe Wolfowitz should have spent more time studying those diaries.