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UN's 'oil for food' was a huge scam

Ottawa has remained silent while the reputation of the world body has been sullied by scandal

By Salim Mansur -- For the Toronto Sun

The odd thing in our national politics is the disconnect between what is said by our political leaders and what is the undeniable reality surrounding us.

As an illustration, a Canadian prime minister speaking about the virtue, even necessity, of UN reforms would be not only proper given Canada's role in its founding in 1945, but would carry much deserving weight if he spoke candidly about its present dismal reality.

Ottawa has gone mute, however, when it comes to the abysmal scandal gripping the UN. It is as if, despite our resources to be informed, we are oblivious to the largest money scam in history operated out of the world body.

This scam was the UN oil-for-food program, designed to alleviate Iraqi suffering under UN sanctions imposed on Iraq following the Gulf War of 1991. The sanctions were put in place by the Security Council to compel Saddam Hussein to fulfil the ceasefire requirements which ended the war by liberating Kuwait.

Organized scheme

It is now indisputable that the oil-for-food program became an organized scheme to subvert a UN-imposed sanction on a country run by a despot unconcerned about the suffering of anyone unlucky to live within his prison system.

Could it also be that perhaps the Secretary-General of the UN and some members of the Security Council, led by France, were so averse to any military action in Iraq because they feared the inevitable disclosure, following regime change in Baghdad, of the world's biggest scam as documents became available from Iraq?

The estimate for money laundered through the oil-for-food program is in excess of $20 billion, though the actual audited figure remains in dispute.

Norm Coleman, a U.S. Senator and chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has asked for the resignation of Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General.

Coleman wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal: "Mr. Annan was at the helm of the UN body for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program, and he must, therefore, be held accountable for the UN's utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses.

"The consequences of the UN's ineptitude cannot be overstated: Saddam was empowered to withstand the sanctions regime, remain in power, and even rebuild his military. Needless to say, he made the Iraqi people suffer even more by importing substandard food and medicine under the Oil-for-Food program and pawning it off as first-rate humanitarian aid."

The UN for a long time has been the last refuge providing a semblance of legitimacy to the world's worst scoundrels. This was not in the scheme of things when the founding assembly first met in San Fransciso nearly 60 years ago.

In time, however, the UN became what it is, a huge bureaucracy unaccountable to any authority but itself. And the iron law of any bureaucracy is to self-perpetuate.

Apalling record

Annan by any measure is hugely discredited. His record is appalling. He has been at the centre of failed UN missions from Somalia and Bosnia to the criminal tragedies of Rwanda and Darfur, has shown no leadership on the most compelling post-Cold War security issue of global terrorism, and presides over a scandal in which his son, Kojo Annan, allegedly profited because of connections.

But as the head of the UN bureaucracy, Annan knows he is protected.

Now if only a Canadian prime minister would insist on restoring the good name of the UN by speaking out against those who have sullied it.

12,413 Posts
It's a damn shame to say the least. Not only did we save Iraqi's from Saddam, we saved them from the UN as well.

Like the French really give a shit about the Iraqi people?
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