Saturday, December 18, 2010

What oil-for-food scam?

Claudia Rossett writes about the latest whizz by the UN Security Council:
At a special session chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, the United Nations Security Council voted Tuesday to end the Saddam-era sanctions on Iraq, as well as the remnants of the Oil-for-Food program. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was there, as well as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. In the way of such meetings, there was plenty of speechifying, with each of the five permanent and 10 rotating members delivering orations on the occasion. There were congratulations to the Iraqis on how far they’ve come, as well as advice, prescriptions, and urgings about stability, security, the Iraqi people, “the region, and the international community.”

Notably missing was even a single word of apology for UN complicity in the massive corruption of Oil-for-Food. You remember Oil-for-Food — the 1996-2003 relief program in which the UN took on the job of overseeing all oil sales of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and promised all proceeds would be supervised by the UN to ensure the money was spent on humanitarian aid for the people of Iraq. What came of this setup, in which the UN oversaw more than $110 billion worth of Iraqi oil and relief deals, was a bonanza of billions in kickbacks and illicit fees paid to Saddam’s regime, under cover of thousands of UN-approved contracts. Those illicit billions were skimmed out of oil revenues that were supposed to help the people of Iraq. This dirty business helped fortify Saddam’s murderous regime, and padded the pockets of a great many of his business partners.
I suspect that a lot of people who rely on the drive-by media, as Rush Limbaugh described them, will not know what this is all about and how the greatest scam of the late twentieth century was perpetrated. After all, Claudia Rossett and MEMRI, who, between them, uncovered it all, did not get that Pulitzer Prize.

Let's not forget also:
Today, the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council are a different batch from those who milled through the Council during Oil-for-Food (a group that toward the end included such stand-out collaborators with Saddam’s sanctions-busting graft as Syria). But the permanent five — the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China — were, of course, along for the entire ride. And of that Perm Five, the two top business partners of Saddam were Russia and France. China also did quite well out of Saddam’s deals; the Volcker inquiry noted that China would have surpassed France as a purchaser of Saddam’s kickback-laden oil contracts, except that China made a lot of its purchases via a London subsidiary. For that matter, two of the current rotating members, Turkey and Lebanon, did substantial business under Oil-for-Food, and neither has made any visible attempt to pursue the allegations of graft raised by the UN inquiry.
There is also the role in the whole scam of the former SecGen Kofi Annan, whose various dealings and whose family affairs do not bear too close a scrutiny. But then this is the UN, the world's most corrupt admired organization. Is there any reason why we should not shut it down now?


  1. "Is there any reason why we should not shut it down now?"

    Well, if "we" is the UK then we lack the ability to shut it down by ourselves, regrettably. However if "we" is "the West" or "the Anglo-sphere", then we should have shut it down years ago and the sooner we do the better.

    There does seem to be some sort of pattern here, in which "we" (the Anglo-spheric right-wing) are not only expected to tolerate our enemies, but have been manoeuvred into funding them as well. See also; the BBC and the EU, as well as the foreign aid that ends up in hands of the terrorist.

  2. Damn it, I forgot to sign that previous comment.