October 17, 2004

Hot Water


FoxNews reports: Annan: Iraq War Hasn't Made World Safer.

The U.S.-led war in Iraq hasn't made the world any safer, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a British TV interview aired Sunday.

"I cannot say the world is safer when you consider the violence around us, when you look around you and see the terrorist attacks around the world and you see what is going on in Iraq," Annan told the ITV network. "We have a lot of work to do as an international community to try and make the world safer," he said.

Annan has previously described the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein as "illegal."

FoxNews also reports: Oil-for-Food Probe Includes Annan's Son.

The Justice Department criminal probe into the U.N. Oil-for-Food program is focusing on several individuals, among them U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son, FOX News has learned.

Kojo Annan, the secretary-general's son, was employed by a U.N. contractor that monitored food and medicine shipments that were flowing into Iraq as part of the multibillion-dollar program created in late 1996.

The Oil-for-Food program is now being probed by the Justice Department and Congress as a boondoggle that enriched Saddam Hussein and others. A report delivered last week by Charles Duelfer found that Saddam was able to "subvert" the $60 billion U.N. Oil-for-Food program to generate an estimated $1.7 billion in revenue outside U.N. control from 1997-2003. [...]

FOX News was unable to locate Kojo Annan for comment but his father told reporters at the United Nations earlier this year that there was no connection.

UPDATE -- October 20: From Claudia Rosett at The Wall Street Journal: La République des Bananes: Kofi Annan tries to explain away France and Russia's Oil for Food wrongdoing.

In defending Russia, China and France, Mr. Annan further implied that Saddam's traffic went only to companies, not governments, and therefore could not possibly have swayed state policies. Perhaps Mr. Annan has forgotten that all Saddam's contracts were funneled into Oil for Food via the official U.N. missions of the respective countries. Although earlier this year Mr. Annan and some of his aides were busy excusing Mr. Annan's Secretariat from any responsibility for Oil for Fraud, by way of blaming the U.N. member-state missions, especially those on the Security Council.

Maybe Mr. Annan also forgot that both China and Russia, however nonbanana their status at the U.N., have yet to enter the era of genuine private property rights. In both these nations, there is a hazy line between state and private sector, no fair and impartial rule of law to define that line, and no press free enough to delve deeply into such matters as when, by whom and at what price it might have been crossed. Maybe Mr. Annan also forgot that large business interests, even when private, can wield a certain amount of lobbying clout, even in France.

And maybe he just hasn't had time to read the lists of oil vouchers handed out liberally by Saddam to assorted French former officials and Russian politicians and state entities--alleged bribes now presumably under investigation by the U.N.'s own "independent inquiry" led by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Earlier this year, an aggrieved Mr. Annan warned critics of the Oil for Food program to shut up and wait for Mr. Volcker to wend his way toward a final report. Apparently, when it comes to Saddam's biggest clients, Mr. Annan sees no problem with his own policy of pre-emptive exoneration.

Posted by Forkum at October 17, 2004 10:07 PM