The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, April 19, 2004

Some More Details on UNSCAM 

The UN Oil for Food Scandal from US News and World Report by way of Instapundit.

The U.N. was supposed to oversee the oil-for-food program that allowed Saddam Hussein to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy essential food and medicine for the Iraqi people. At least $10 billion, evidently, went into the pockets of political operators.
Here's how the scam allegedly worked: Saddam sold oil to his friends and allies around the world at deep discounts. The buyers resold the oil at huge profits. Saddam then got kickbacks of 10 percent from both the oil traders and the suppliers of humanitarian goods. Iraqi bean counters, fortunately, kept meticulous records.

Coincidence. If you wondered why the French were so hostile to America's approach to Iraq and even opposed to ending the sanctions after the 1991 Gulf War, here's one possible explanation: French oil traders got 165 million barrels of Iraqi crude at cut-rate prices. The CEO of one French company, SOCO International, got vouchers for 36 million barrels of Iraqi oil. Was it just a coincidence that the man is a close political and financial supporter of President Jacques Chirac? Or that a former minister of the interior, Charles Pasqua, allegedly received 12 million barrels from Baghdad? Or that a former French ambassador to the U.N., Jean-Bernard Merimee, received an allocation of 11 million barrels? Perhaps it was just happenstance, too, that a French bank with close ties to then French President François Mitterrand and one of the bank's big shareholders who is close to Saddam became the main conduit for the bulk of the $67 billion in proceeds from the oil-for-food program. All told, 42 French companies and individuals got a piece of this lucrative trade. No matter how cynical you may be, it's sometimes just plain hard to keep up with the French.

But they're not alone. Russians received more than 2.5 billion barrels of the cut-rate crude. Some 1.4 billion barrels went to the Russian state. Not to be left out of the feeding frenzy, even the U.N. got in on the action. It received administrative fees of about $2 billion for the program, which may be fair, but the senior U.N. official in charge of the program, Benon Sevan, is reported to have received 11.5 million barrels himself. Cotecna, a Swiss-based firm hired by the U.N. to monitor the import of the food and medicine to Iraq, hired Kojo Annan, the son of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, as a consultant during the period when the company was assembling and submitting bids for the oil-for-food program.

Thats way too much coincidence for my taste. And John Kerry wants to put that fox back in charge of the Iraqi Hen House? I don't think so. I say keep the UN as far away from Iraq as possible. This is what multilateralism through the UN gets us. I much prefer the coalition of the willing... especially with the recent problems in Kosovo the UN is having. The grass isn't always greener.

Also... what would more involvement by the UN really buy us here? Joe User has some thoughts on just that.

Remember the first Gulf War? The one that had UN approval? The model of multilaterialism? The US burden in the UN approved Gulf War was (according to CNN) (wait for it) >75%. Tthe French sacrifice included 2 combat deaths -- during the entire conflict.

The horse still lives so a few more whacks: Non-UN approval for current US policy in Iraq puts the US burden in Iraq at over 75%. UN approval of US action would likely put the US burden in Iraq at...over 75%.

UPDATE: National Review has some more details that show that the Oil for Food Program was funding Terrorist Organizations like Al-Qaeda (from InstaPundit).

There are at least two links documented already. Both involve oil buyers picked by Saddam and approved by the U.N. One was a firm with close ties to a Liechtenstein trust that has since been designated by the U.N. itself as "belonging to or affiliated with Al Qaeda." The other was a Swiss-registered subsidiary of a Saudi oil firm that had close dealings with the Taliban during Osama bin Laden's 1990's heyday in Afghanistan.
The stated aim of the program, which ran from 1996-2003, was to reduce the squeeze of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis by allowing Saddam to sell oil strictly to buy food and other relief supplies. As Oil-for-Food worked in practice, however, the program gave Saddam rich opportunity not only to pad his own pockets, but to fund almost anything and anyone else he chose, while the U.N. assured the world that all was well.
For a sample of the latitude enjoyed by Saddam, there's Treasury's announcement last week that the U.S., in its latest round of efforts to recover Saddam's loot, is asking U.N. member states to freeze the assets of a worldwide group of eight front companies and five individuals that were "procuring weapons, skimming funds, operating for the Iraqi Intelligence Service, and doing business in support of the fallen Saddam Hussein regime." The list includes a Dubai-based firm, Al Wasel & Babel General Trading, a major contractor under the Oil-for-Food program that turned out to be a front company set up by Saddam's regime specifically to sell goods (and procure arms) via the program — right under the U.N.'s approving eye.

So much for no link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda... too bad we're not hearing more about this.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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