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Fred's son

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 3 years, 5 months
The REAL coalition of the bribed
    #3251711 - 10/19/04 03:30 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)


Iraq Amnesia
The real "coalition of the bribed" was at the U.N.

Friday, October 8, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

Judging from the current Iraq debate, you might think Saddam Hussein didn't use poison gas on the Kurds and the Iranians in the 1980s. Or that 500,000 American troops hadn't been sent to the Gulf in 1990-91 to reverse his invasion of Kuwait. Or that Saddam hadn't tried to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush in 1993, or long harbored one of the bombers who attacked the World Trade Center that year.

It might also be easy to forget that Saddam never came clean about his weapons of mass destruction, resulting in Bill Clinton's Desert Fox bombing of 1998 and the ejection of U.N. inspectors. Or that he necessitated a huge U.S. troop presence in the region, which Osama bin Laden cited in his 1998 fatwa as one of his primary grievances against America.

It's clear why John Kerry doesn't want to talk about these things, having decided for now that Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Count us a bit mystified, however, that the incumbent hasn't done a better job putting his Iraq policy in this context. Fortunately for President Bush, Congressional Oil for Food hearings and Charles Duelfer's final weapons inspections report for the CIA have come along this week to remind us all that the "containment" of Saddam was neither as blissful as certain partisans remember it, nor even sustainable.

"By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support," Mr. Duelfer writes. "Iraq was within striking distance of a de facto end to the sanctions regime."

We realize that some of our media friends think the salient news here is the old news: that Saddam did not possess large stockpiles of WMDs when Coalition forces invaded in March 2003. But Mr. Duelfer explicitly rejects the facile conclusion that therefore sanctions were working. Among his other findings, based in part on interviews with Saddam himself and other senior regime figures:

? Saddam believed weapons of mass destruction were essential to the preservation of his power, especially during the Iran-Iraq and 1991 Gulf wars.

? He engaged in strategic deception intended to suggest that he retained WMD.

? He fully intended to resume real WMD production after the expected lifting of U.N. sanctions, and he maintained weapons programs that put him in "material breach" of U.N. resolutions including 1441.

? And he instituted an epic bribery scheme aimed primarily at three of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, with the intent of having them help lift those sanctions.

"Saddam personally approved and removed all names of voucher recipients," under the Oil for Food program, Mr. Duelfer writes. Alleged beneficiaries of such bribes include individuals in China, as well as some with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac.

As Congressmen Chris Shays's House International Relations Committee heard in testimony on Tuesday, France, Russia and China did in fact work hard to help Saddam skirt and escape sanctions. One Iraqi intelligence report uncovered by Mr. Duelfer says that a French politician assured Saddam in a letter that France would use its U.N. veto against any U.S. effort to attack Iraq--as indeed France later threatened to do.

Evidence also continues to mount that U.N. Oil for Food Program director Benon Sevan was among those on Saddam's payroll. (He denies it.) And contrary to earlier claims that Secretary-General Kofi Annan's son Kojo severed connections with the Swiss-based firm Cotecna prior to it winning its Oil for Food inspections contract, we now know that Kojo was kept on the company payroll for another year. We eagerly await the promised interim report from the U.N.'s Paul Volcker-led Oil for Food review panel, and hope in the interests of an informed electorate that it can be delivered soon.

But there are already plenty of facts on the table to support one conclusion. To wit: Even if one accepts the desirability of some kind of "global test" before America acts militarily, U.N. Security Council approval can't be it. There was never any chance that this "coalition of the bribed" was going to explicitly endorse regime change, or the presumed alternative of another 12 years of economic sanctions. "Politically," writes Mr. Duelfer, "the Iraqis were losing their stigma" by 2001.

The sanctions-were-working crowd also ignores that Saddam never would have readmitted weapons inspectors without the kind of U.S. troop mobilization that isn't feasible with any frequency. For President Bush to have backed off in 2003 without unambiguous disarmament would have meant the end once and for all of any real threat of force behind "containment."

Senator John McCain summed it up well at the Republican Convention: "Those who criticize that decision [to go to war in Iraq] would have us believe that the choice was between a status quo that was well enough left alone and war. But there was no status quo to be left alone." Supporters of his Iraq policy are hoping that Mr. Bush finds a similar voice tonight.



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Ten ThousandThings

Registered: 11/02/03
Posts: 3,171
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Re: The REAL coalition of the bribed [Re: Phred]
    #3252141 - 10/19/04 05:35 PM (13 years, 8 months ago)

This is an extremely important issue that is being heavily glossed over. If somebody really want to understand the Euro/American political divide over Iraq this is where they should start.
I am a little disapointed the article didn't go further into how Saddam was using UN Oil for Food graft to bribe France, Russia and China into lifting sanctions, defending them at the UN, and to sell them weapons to use against the United States.

So much for alienating allies. They were bought off a long time ago.

1. "After an hour I wasn't feeling anything so I decided to take another..."
2. "We were feeling pretty good so we decided to smoke a few bowls..."
3. "I had to be real quiet because my parents were asleep upstairs..."

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Fred's son

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
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Re: The REAL coalition of the bribed [Re: Divided_Sky]
    #3253910 - 10/20/04 12:25 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

Here's some more, from Claudia Rosett. She's one who has been digging into this mess since the beginning, and is probably more familiar with what has been going on than anyone else I have read. Her coverage to date has been incredibly thorough. Some of her articles follow the pathways of this industry (and it was a veritable industry for years and years) so closely that you have to read and re-read the chain of links several times to start to appreciate just how byzantine and well-covered the transactions were. This most recent article is less technical than almost any of her previous ones.



Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, finds it "inconceivable" that Russia, France or China might have been influenced in Security Council debates by Saddam Hussein's Oil for Food business and bribes. "These are very serious and important governments," Mr. Annan told Britain's ITV News Sunday. "You are not dealing with banana republics."

This has been Mr. Annan's chief response so far to the extensive documentation cited in the recent Iraq Survey Group report, from the CIA's Charles Duelfer, that under cover of the U.N.'s Oil for Food relief program Saddam was trying to buy up pals on the U.N. Security Council. Mr. Duelfer tells us that under the leaky U.N. sanctions and corrupt Oil for Food program, Saddam had already built the networks and was amassing the resources to rearm himself with weapons of mass destruction as soon as U.N. sanctions were entirely gone.

With the aim of shedding sanctions, Saddam, according to his regime's own records, was throwing billions in business and millions in bribes to France, Russia and, to a lesser extent, China, all veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council. As it happened, sanctions were indeed eroding, and these three nations opposed the decision of the U.S. and Britain that Saddam either had to shape up or be shipped out.

But in Mr. Annan's view, Saddam's oil money had nothing to do with it. Nobody buys the officials of France, Russia and China. They are serious and important.

To be fair, maybe that's how the world would appear to anyone dulled for decades by U.N. diplo-speak--and Mr. Annan has toiled there for 42 years. But in the modern world, the notion that Russia and China in no way qualify as banana republics might be news to the state-muffled media of both countries. It might also surprise readers of the Berlin-based Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 133 countries by levels of corruption, from best to worst. On that list, China ranks about halfway down, worse than Colombia or Peru and tied for 66th place with Panama, Sri Lanka and Syria. Russia does worse yet, ranked between Romania and Algeria, and tied for 86th place with Mozambique.

France does much better. Though it ranks as more corrupt than the U.S., Israel or Japan, it ties with Spain for a still respectable 23rd place. That makes France one of the most corrupt countries not in the entire world, but merely in Western Europe.

Alas, such dignity may come as cold comfort to the French, given that Mr. Annan did not actually deny that the Chinese, Russians and French had taken big payoffs from Saddam. Mr. Annan merely disputed that the Chinese, Russians and French would have delivered anything in return for the bribes. In other words, they may be corrupt, but at least they weren't honest about it.

But let's be generous. Let's grant Mr. Annan's claim that these are not banana republics. These are countries with nuclear weapons, lively arms industries and permanent seats on the Security Council. These are nations so serious that Saddam found it worthwhile to lavish his graft-filled billions in business upon them, even though Mr. Annan could have told him from the get-go it would make no difference.

That raises another problem, namely Saddam's rich opportunities amid all his bribing for the much-overlooked possibility of blackmail. In countries so serious and important that a U.N. secretary-general would deem their corruption "inconceivable," such things as reputation and rule of law must surely matter. Which means that once Saddam managed to bribe someone in, say, France, China or Russia, he basically owned that person, and even in his current deposed and imprisoned condition quite possibly still does. Anyone exposed for accepting bribes from Saddam--at least anyone in a serious and important nonbanana republic--could face ruin.

And in any individual instance, Saddam has long had less to fear from exposure than do his partners in graft. When Saddam was tyrant of all Iraq, the discovery that he had bribed someone was hardly likely to derail the mighty engine through which he worked his schemes, the U.N.'s Oil for Food program (the obvious graft didn't stop Mr. Annan from repeatedly urging the expansion of the program). And these days, the worst Saddam might have to fear is that along with charges involving such activities as torture and mass murder, he might also face conviction for white-collar crimes. It is at least worth wondering what counsel Saddam may still keep, and what leverage he may still wield, over anyone of seriousness and importance with whom he did business.

In defending Russia, China and France, Mr. Annan further implied that Saddam's traffic went only to companies, not governments, and therefore could not possibly have swayed state policies. Perhaps Mr. Annan has forgotten that all Saddam's contracts were funneled into Oil for Food via the official U.N. missions of the respective countries. Although earlier this year Mr. Annan and some of his aides were busy excusing Mr. Annan's Secretariat from any responsibility for Oil for Fraud, by way of blaming the U.N. member-state missions, especially those on the Security Council.

Maybe Mr. Annan also forgot that both China and Russia, however nonbanana their status at the U.N., have yet to enter the era of genuine private property rights. In both these nations, there is a hazy line between state and private sector, no fair and impartial rule of law to define that line, and no press free enough to delve deeply into such matters as when, by whom and at what price it might have been crossed. Maybe Mr. Annan also forgot that large business interests, even when private, can wield a certain amount of lobbying clout, even in France.

And maybe he just hasn't had time to read the lists of oil vouchers handed out liberally by Saddam to assorted French former officials and Russian politicians and state entities--alleged bribes now presumably under investigation by the U.N.'s own "independent inquiry" led by former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Earlier this year, an aggrieved Mr. Annan warned critics of the Oil for Food program to shut up and wait for Mr. Volcker to wend his way toward a final report. Apparently, when it comes to Saddam's biggest clients, Mr. Annan sees no problem with his own policy of pre-emptive exoneration.

In dealing with Saddam, Mr. Annan no doubt had a lot to keep track of. There are many questions yet to be answered about Oil for Food before final blame is parceled out. But if the idea is to save the U.N. itself from becoming the world's biggest banana institution, there are serious and important questions to be asked about why Secretary-General Kofi Annan finds it "inconceivable" that in the U.N.'s core debates, rampant graft might matter.

Ms. Rosett is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Hudson Institute.



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Resident Cynic

Registered: 10/01/02
Posts: 5,385
Loc: Apt #6, The Village
Re: The REAL coalition of the bribed [Re: Phred]
    #3254095 - 10/20/04 01:01 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

No surprises from War Street Journal articles. The other world powers are controlled by greedy bastards too. Saddam Hussein is an asshole who tried to solidify his power and/or increase it and play major powers to his advantage - big news.

It is the nature of all governments and power mongers to seek advantages which will increase their powers, this is to be expected - and opposed at every turn. Does this make the greed of the U.S. corporatist military industrial complex any better or worse for it's actions? I know, I know... they're OUR greedy bastards, so by that fact alone they are better. But shouldn't we hold everyone to an objective standard or is relativism the way of the 'Age of Aquarius'?

*** Evolving braces himself for rationalizations ***

To call humans 'rational beings' does injustice to the term, 'rational.'  Humans are capable of rational thought, but it is not their essence.  Humans are animals, beasts with complex brains.  Humans, more often than not, utilize their cerebrum to rationalize what their primal instincts, their preconceived notions, and their emotional desires have presented as goals - humans are rationalizing beings.

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Fred's son

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
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Re: The REAL coalition of the bribed [Re: Evolving]
    #3254187 - 10/20/04 01:20 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

These articles do nothing more than point out the futility of the Kerry "plan", and the delusions of those who claim that it wasn't okay to invade Iraq until the UNSC had passed yet another resolution saying "In case we didn't make it clear enough in 1441, Hussein old chum, when we said "serious consequences" we actually mean serious consequences."

It is plain as day now there was no way France was ever going to agree to invading Iraq. I said from Rono's very first "it's all about the oil" post in this forum that it was indeed all about the oil -- the lucrative oil contracts France and Germany and Russia had signed with Hussein which would be worth bupkes once Hussein had been deposed. I was of course referring to "legitimate" contracts they were hoping to take advantage of once the sanctions crumbled. I didn't know at the time (nor did anyone else) that they were already making mountains of cash in bribes and fudged oil contracts under the oil for food scam.

Did I post these articles to show that all US businessmen are incorruptible? Or that Europeans are? Nope. There's no "rationalizing" needed here.



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Registered: 02/26/01
Posts: 9,134
Re: The REAL coalition of the bribed [Re: Phred]
    #3254359 - 10/20/04 01:55 AM (13 years, 8 months ago)

and the delusions of those who claim that it wasn't okay to invade Iraq until the UNSC had passed yet another resolution saying "In case we didn't make it clear enough in 1441, Hussein old chum, when we said "serious consequences" we actually mean serious consequences."

Are you capable of comprehending that there were no WMD in Iraq? If there were no WMD in Iraq what exactly does 1441 have to do with invasion?

Are you capable of comprehending that "serious consequences" may not mean what you want it to mean? That the only reason the UN signed 1441 was because it said "serious consequences" and NOT "the invasion of Iraq"?

Sorry you don't like the fact that other countries have the freedom not to follow George Bush blindly into his catastrophic adventure in Iraq. It must be hell for you.

Don't worry, B. Caapi

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