March 23, 2004

Kofi's Complicity

Claudia Rosett continues her outstanding reporting on the U.N. Oil-For Food scandal, this time at NRO. The stories of the foot-dragging by the French bank BNP in turning over documents relating to Oil-For-Food accounts, and the sweetheart deals for a company employing Kofi Annan's son are covered here. But what I think is more important is Rosett's drawing the connection between bribery and behavior. Making the obvious logical leap from observing who was getting paid off in billions of dollars, to understanding why they were working to preserve the status quo of the Saddam regime.

Rosett suggests that Annan be held accountable for covering up at the time, what we now know to be the reason for French and Russian obstructionism of the U.S effort to liberate Iraq. They didn't want to kill the goose that was laying the golden eggs. All of this was taking place under the nose of Kofi Annan, and it's naive to suggest he wasn't a party to it. Here's an excerpt:

...the larger issue is the U.N. setup of secrecy and lack of accountability that fostered the Oil-for-Food fiasco in the first place. The damage at this point includes Iraqis deprived of billions of dollars worth of relief, and signs of massive corruption quite likely involving hundreds of U.N.-approved contractors in dozens of countries, as well as the U.N.'s own head of the program, Sevan. An inquiry should also look into the U.N. Secretariat's silent assent to Saddam's efforts to buy political influence in the Security Council. In this bribe-riddled program, Saddam tipped vast amounts of business to contractors in such veto-wielding Security Council member states as Russia, France, and to a lesser extent, China. In the heated debates over Iraq, leading up to the beginning of the war last March, Annan brought none of Saddam's influence-peddling to public attention, though he had access to specific information about the huge sums going from Saddam's regime to select nations, and the public did not.

More from Claudia Rosett on O-F-F can be read here and here. And related Wizblog posts can be found here, here, and here.

Posted by dan at March 23, 2004 11:45 AM