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Ivanka Trump and the World Bank — a blessing in disguise?

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Ivanka Trump, a US businesswoman better known as the daughter of US president Donald Trump, is set to help out in the search for a new World Bank president. While she is probably the least qualified person ever to have assisted in the process of appointing such an important position, the tempering influence she may have on her father’s disdain for multilateralism could be a blessing — at least the best we can hope for in these politically insane times.

It could, after all, be crazier. There had been speculation that Ivanka (this article will refer to the president as Trump) might be in the running to replace outgoing president Jim Yong Kim herself.

Kim’s shock resignation last week ramped up concerns that Trump would be able to put someone who shared his views forward for the top job — in other words, someone for whom ‘multilateralism’ is a dirty word.

It would be far from the first time Trump had appointed a person to lead an organisation they hold in disdain. In November, Trump said he would nominate Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal industry, as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler had already been acting administrator for several months.

Ivanka would certainly have been a Trump appointee — it would be hard to find anyone else on the planet outside her immediate friends and family that think she would be able to take on the job — although she has appeared to be more in favour of multilateralism than her father is.

She and the World Bank had teamed up before, for instance, with a plan for a $1bn women’s entrepreneurship facility administered by the World Bank, announced in June 2017, that commentators dubbed the ‘Ivanka Fund’.

The White House has since said that Ivanka is not in the running for the top job at the supranational, but that it had asked her to “help manage the US nomination process as she has worked closely with the World Bank’s leadership for the past two years”.

So, a bullet dodged there. Quite how the World Bank would have operated with such a breathtakingly unqualified leader is beyond thinking about.

But her role in the US nomination process could be a blessing in disguise. Ivanka seems to be one of the few people in the world that Trump truly trusts. That could mean he leaves her to get on with it and stands by her eventual decision — which will hopefully be heavily influenced by the far more qualified people contributing to the US nomination.

The phrase ‘useful idiot’ springs to mind.

In an ideal world, Ivanka Trump would have nothing to do with appointing a World Bank boss. But then in an ideal world, her father would have nothing to do with global politics.

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