Friday, October 28, 2005

Report on Oil-for-Food

NYT reported An independent report on the United Nations' $64 billion oil-for-food program for Iraq shed light Thursday on a circle of political aides and fixers in Russia and France who the report said made company connections, paid kickbacks and reaped benefits through contracts granted by the government of Saddam Hussein. The report by a committee led by Paul A. Volcker, named major multinational companies as well as individuals who were involved.The committee reported that the Iraqi government developed a policy of favoring France, as well as Russia; it considered France a "friend" for opposing the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq. Other companies from different countries tried to reposition themselves with French connections and the help of well-placed people.

If you have enough money, you can buy all of the "friends" you want.
NYT reported More than 4,500 companies took part in the United Nations oil-for-food program and more than half of them paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein, according to the independent committee investigating the program. The country with the most companies involved in the program was Russia, followed by France, the committee says in a report to be released Thursday.... The investigators said Thursday's report would detail how Mr. Hussein first steered the program to gain political advantage with political allies and countries in a position to ease the United Nations sanctions. Both Russia and France are veto-bearing members of the Security Council. "Then it got corrupted with a capital C when Saddam figured out how to make money off of it by putting on the surcharges and kickbacks," one investigator said.

RantingProfs blogged Yeah, that's kind of an important detail. Because this isn't just a UN scandal about mismanagement at the end of the day. It's also an argument about why holding on to the status quo (using sanctions to "keep Saddam in his box") wasn't going to work for long, since he was buying people into supporting continually weakening sanctions. And it's also an argument why the claim the "international community" stood against us in 2003 is a bit weak. If UN votes are used as a proxy to measure what the international community believed, anyway.... Still, a pretty big deal for the Times, as a story about UN mismanagement, undisguised and in your face, makes it as the lead story.

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