Blood for oil money

There is an argument to be made that someone has sacrificed blood for oil in Iraq. But that someone is not the USA.

The UN ‘world peace organization’ used it’s full beauracratic strength to protect a brutal dictator. Why? The UN oil-for-food scheme may go down in history as the real reason the UN refused to enforce it’s own resolutions against a ruthless dictator.

In a letter to Kofi Annan, adviser to Iraq's interim governing council warns that the UN appeared to have "failed in its responsibility" to the Iraqi people and to the international community. "It will not come as a surprise if the Oil-for-Food Programme turns out to have been one of the world's most disgraceful scams, and an example of inadequate control, responsibility and transparency, providing an opportune vehicle for Saddam Hussein to operate under the UN aegis to continue his reign of terror and oppression," wrote Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a British businessman and former chairman of the management committee at Price Waterhouse accountants, on March 3.

Kofi Annan after refusing to open the books of the oil-for-food program has finally bowed to the inevitable. What did the UN have to gain by this corruption you may ask? They just want peace and to help the people of Iraq. In fact the oil-for-food scheme was a profit venture for the UN. They received a percentage of the transactions from all these deals.

The disturbing implication is that the U.N. - while collecting a commission of more than $1 billion on Saddam's oil sales to cover its own overhead in administering Oil-for-Food - was indifferent to Saddam's short-changing the Iraqi people, whose relief was supposed to be the entire point of the program. -National Review

It may be interesting to see just what involvement Kofi Annan's son had as well in the whole deal.

...the ties of Annan's own son, Kojo Annan, to the Switzerland-based firm, Cotecna, which from 1999 onward worked on contract for the U.N. monitoring the shipments of Oil-for-food supplies into Iraq. These were the same supplies sent in under terms of those tens of billions of dollars worth of U.N.-approved contracts in which the U.N. says it failed to notice Saddam Hussein's widespread arrangements to overpay contractors who then shipped overpriced goods to the impoverished people of Iraq and kicked back part of their profits to Saddam's regime. -National Review

Kofi's son, worked for the firm that put in the lowest bid to inspect these shipments, and the UN had no idea Kofi's son had worked for them? The company whose job it was to monitor these shipments had no idea what was going on?

In retrospect, had we known the amount of French and Russian involvement (and enrichment) from the Oil-for-Food scheme there might have been a different view of their 'principled' opposition to enforcing resolution 1441 and removing Saddam from power. Some may remember my previous post listing the bribes the Saddam regime recorded in documents uncovered in Baghdad. Documents which we would have never uncovered had Saddam stayed in power.

A mosaic of international corruption is also emerging in the patchwork of politicians and businesses across the world that benefited from the oil-for-food program and helped keep Saddam in power. The Iraqi Oil Ministry recently released a partial list of names of individuals and companies from across the world that received oil from Saddam Hussein’s regime, allegedly at below-market prices. Unsurprisingly, French and Russian names dominate the list, with former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and the “director of the Russian President’s office” listed as beneficiaries. The list also implicates U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Benon V. Sevan, executive director of the oil-for-food program, who has stringently denied any wrongdoing.[2]

Certainly the French know how to cover their assets when it comes to a scandal. For instance this story about the massive corruption involved in the French Oil company ELF, in itself is a free speech scandal. But this is not simply a problem of a greedy international oil company run amuck. It is a story of a government run international oil company run amuck. Those who believe that government runs things at a higher moral plane than private companies do should examine the extensive corruption, bribes, kickbacks, and embezzlement that is apparently a way of doing business in France.

The [ELF] trial is one of the first steps in revealing a system that allowed French governments to turn Elf into an extension of the country’s foreign-policy machine. At the time of the alleged misconduct, Elf was France's biggest company and was controlled by the state. -DW

Elf, or TotalFinaElf, was founded to pump oil in Iraq. We should not be surprised then that French politicians would want to protect their oil interests in Iraq. Unfortunately protecting their oil money meant keeping an entire nation enslaved to a brutal and torturous dictator.

The original Total was practically born in Iraq. The company was founded in 1924 by a syndicate of French industrialists and financiers and entered the business of pumping oil by taking over the French government's 23.8% share in Iraq Petroleum...

...Elf Aquitaine was a national oil company created by General de Gaulle in 1965. Elf was intended to secure access to oil for the French state, but it also became a foreign policy tool, covertly maintaining the French presence in Africa through intelligence gathering, corruption and close association to the intelligence services. It was also one of the main sources of financing for the Gaulliste movement. In time, corruption scandals and covert party financing also involved the Socialist party.

I wonder if the moralists who claim that Cheney planned this war to enrich Halliburton will even bother to acknowledge these facts?

I guess I just don't understand the nuances of progressive internationalism.

Posted by Eric Simonson at March 20, 2004 2:38 PM