Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Meanwhile, down at the United Nations the manure is piling up

Pete Du Pont at the WSJ - Oil Is Not Well: Kofi Annan can run, but he can't Hyde:
"The U.N.'s mechanisms for controlling Oil-for-Food contracts were inadequate, transparency went by the wayside, and effective internal review of the program did not occur. . . . If the United Nations cannot be trusted to run a humanitarian program, its other activities, including peacekeeping, arms inspection regimes or development projects may be called into question."

--Sen. Richard Lugar, April 7

More than called into question. The United Nations' administration of the Oil-for-Food program was so ineffective, inadequate and corrupt that, in the words of OpinionJournal columnist Claudia Rosett, the U.N. "is an institution that should never be trusted to carry out missions requiring integrity or responsibility."

So should the U.N. be given control over Iraq's transition to a free and democratic nation, as John Kerry has demanded and President Bush is being politically pressured to do?
Hell, no.

Latest on the slush fund debacle by following the link, but my favorite is:
Most stunning is Benon Sevan, the U.N.'s assistant secretary-general, whom his boss, Kofi Annan, designated to run the Oil-for-Food program. Mr. Sevan was allocated 14 million barrels of oil and disposed of 7 million of them.
Hmm, lots of perks in being a UN drone I guess.

And the net?
As all this information became public over the past year or so, U.N. lawyers refused to allow identification of the kickback firms; it was, they said, "privileged information which could not be made public." Mr. Annan then suggested "an independent high-level inquiry" to clean up the U.N.'s sordid image. Absolutely not, said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabiliere, for the U.N. Iraqi accounts were managed by a French company, BNP Paribas. The Russians didn't much like the idea of an investigation either. Last Friday the they blocked a Security Council resolution giving an investigating commission headed by Paul Volcker authority to conduct a complete investigation. All of which may explain why France and Russia so vigorously opposed the liberation of Iraq a year ago: They didn't want their very lucrative and very illegal kickback scheme to come to an end.

The Oil-for-Food program involves U.N. oversight of about $15 billion a year, by far the largest program it administers and more than five times the U.N.'s annual core budget. So the $10 billion at issue is not small time-graft, but big-time corruption.

Why, after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and had been repulsed by U.S. and allied forces, would the U.N. have given him the power to manage the oil sale program, choose the agents, prevent the U.N. from viewing the agents' contracts, and set the price of oil? Perhaps because the French and Russians insisted upon it?

And why would the U.N. forbid Mr. Sevan to discuss the program he was responsible for running? He says there was no need for an investigation because nothing was wrong, and--incredibly--that it was not his responsibility to hold the Iraqi regime responsible for running an honest program because "we take our marching orders from the Security Council."

So why would any American think the U.N. should now run Iraq? Most Democrats and some Republicans are for it, the establishment media is for it, and Mr. Kerry wants a U.N. resolution to "turn the authority over to them."
Maybe because those folks love the idea of the UN so much that they don't notice the dirty reality?