Saturday, October 29, 2005

Corruption Costs Lives: The U.N. Oil-for-Food Scandal

On Thursday, Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman and current Chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee investigating corruption in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program issued an eye-opening, jaw-dropping report that more than 2,200 companies and government agencies, especially from France and Russia, were illegally giving millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein.

These companies, agencies and their leaders and the corrupt officials at the U.N. should be held accountable for their crimes, which likely kept Saddam in power longer than he otherwise would have been able to. The elder Bush and members of the Clinton administration couldn't understand how Saddam stayed in power through the late 90s and early 2000s. Well, this is how.

The illegal kickbacks to Saddam paid for his torture and rape chambers, the countless sins of his sons, his pusuit of WMDs, his funding and promotion for terrorism including payments to families of homicide bombers attacking Israel, his oppression of the Kurds and Shiites, repression of women, etc.

Without the money from these kickbacks, would the War in Iraq have been necessary? Would the insurgency be as well supplied? Would France and Russia have blocked a larger coalition and a unified world response to Saddam's violation of U.N. sanctions? How much of this money was funnelled to terrorists, directly by Saddam or indirectly through his henchmen? Would 2,014 American soldiers and counting have been killed in Iraq?

And, was it coicidence that the U.N. announcement came a day before the CIA leak investigation closed? The U.N. story, which is much larger in terms of global consequence, sure got buried fast. But in the grand scheme of things, we cannot allow such diversions to detract from the evils done through the corruption of the oil-for-food program. Those 2,200 companies should be legally prosecuted, fined, their leadership imprisoned, and their produce boycotted!

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