Mitt Romney’s pick of Robert Zoellick to lead his national security transition team, announced earlier this month, is said to be “roiling” his campaign staff and causing a “firestorm” within foreign policy circles, especially among pro-Israel stalwarts.
Zoellick is said to be an “old-school Republican,” a foreign policy realist in the mold of his mentor, former US secretary of state James A. Baker, who was well-known for his clashes with the American pro-Israel community. Zoellick worked for Baker at the State Department and Treasury Department during the George H.W. Bush administration. Under George W. Bush, Zoellick spent 16 months as Condoleezza Rice’s deputy secretary of state, but is not considered to have close ties to the latter Bush’s foreign policy team.
During his five-year tenure as president of the World Bank, which concluded in June, Zoellick came under fire for authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of projects in Iran despite multiple UN Security Council resolutions in place against the Islamic Republic.
In 2007, a dozen US congressmen from both sides of the aisle sent Zoellick a letter urging the bank to cut its ties with Iran. “In our view, it would be consistent if, as the Security Council condemns the actions of President Ahmadinejad, the World Bank would suspend funding for his government,” said the letter, which can be read on the AIPAC website.
The lawmakers said the bank was funding nine projects in Iran totaling $1.4 billion and had set aside $220 million for Iran in 2007 and another $870 million for the next three years. They also noted that the US was the top investor in the World Bank, having contributed $950 million in 2007 and $940 million in 2006.
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