April 23, 2004

Food for Dictators

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The New York Times reported yesterday on UNScam: Corruption Allegations at U.N. Put Annan on the Defensive.

This Commentary article by Claudia Rosett provides a good overview of the scam: The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It? (via Friends of Saddam, a UNScam-dedicated blog). Highlights:

In 2000, Saddam enjoyed a blockbuster year. By this time he was not only selling vastly more oil but had institutionalized a system for pocketing cash on the side.

It worked like this. Saddam would sell at below-market prices to his hand-picked customers -- the Russians and the French were special favorites --and they could then sell the oil to third parties at a fat profit. Part of this profit they would keep, part they would kick back to Saddam as a "surcharge," paid into bank accounts outside the UN program, in violation of UN sanctions.

By means of this scam, Saddamís regime ultimately skimmed off for itself billions of dollars in proceeds that were supposed to have been spent on relief for the Iraqi people. [...]

Unimpeded responsibility for the "humanitarian" aspect of the program fell to [UN Secretary-General Kofi] Annan. The next month, "humanitarian" became a broad category indeed. On June 2, Annan approved a newly expanded shopping list by Saddam that the Secretariat dubbed "Oil-for-Food Plus." This added ten new sectors to be funded by the program, including "labor and social affairs," "information," "justice," and "sports." Either the Secretary-General had failed to notice or he did not care that none of these had anything to do with the equitable distribution of relief. By contrast, they had everything to do with the running of Saddamís totalitarian state. "Labor," "information," and "justice" were the realms of Baathist party patronage, propaganda, censorship, secret police, rape rooms, and mass graves. As for sports, that was the favorite arena of Saddamís sadistic son Uday, already infamous for torturing Iraqi athletes. [...]

It is true that Oil-for-Food managed to deliver to Iraqis some portion of what it promised. On sales totaling $65 billion, some $46 billion (by Annanís uncheckable reckoning) went for "humanitarian" spending. Of this amount, an official total of $15 billion worth of food and health supplies -- the original rationale for the program -- had been received by the time Saddam fell. The actual figure was no doubt considerably less if you factor in the kickbacks and spoiled goods; from the remainder came the equipment for Saddamís oil monopoly, the construction materials, the TV studio systems, the carpets and air conditioners for the ministries, and all the rest.

But at what cost? Are we supposed to conclude that, in order to deliver this amount of aid, the UN had to approve Saddamís more than $100 billion worth of largely crooked business, had to look the other way while he skimmed money, bought influence, built palaces, and stashed away billions on the side, at least some of which may now be funding terror in Iraq or beyond?

If you want to really help Iraqis, Afghans and ultimately yourself, consider donating to Spirit of America, an organization providing support to Americans serving abroad. A particularly important Spirit of America project is the effort of U.S. Marines to equip an Iraq-based TV alternative to Al Jazeera. (Thanks to Dean Esmay and Michele Catalano.)

UPDATE April 25: Michael Horesh sent us this March 2004 report on another example of U.N. support for tyranny: EU Funding of the Palestinian Authority.

UPDATE April 29: The New York Post reports: U.N. Big Will Tell All In Oily Scam. (Via LGF)

Posted by Forkum at April 23, 2004 06:19 AM
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