One question not seriously pursued during the presidential debates concerns the perfidy of trusted allies with respect to the United Nation’s Food for Oil program.
In the future, how would presidential candidates John Kerry or George Bush prevent rogue states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from turning UN Oil for Food programs into Oil for Weapons programs?
The Oil for Food program was designed to ease social conditions in Iraq by permitting Saddam’s government to buy food and supplies for the country he methodically plundered. But the program was early on subverted by Saddam through a voucher system that rewarded state officials in various countries for political favors.
According to a story featured in the “Washington Times,” Patrick Kennedy, a representative to the United Nations for management and reform, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations that some member states had “resisted” efforts to put an end to bribery and contracting corruption in the Oil for Food program.
Saddam, who conscientiously patterned himself after Josef Stalin, could not have bribed government officials who were upright. It is not surprising that the prospect of personal enrichment should have caused a curvature of the spine in the representatives of nations that, prior to the U.S. intervention in Iraq, had nurtured intimate business relationships with someone who did not hesitate to murder hundreds of thousands of his own people.
Recent excavations in Iraq have uncovered mass graves containing women and children executed by the Stalin of Baghdad. No doubt the inoffensive children were enemies of the people.
Kennedy named names during his testimony. Among the UN member states overseeing the program that resisted efforts to prevent Saddam from stealing $10 billion were France, Russia, China and Syria. In recent days, Syria has been a prime exporter of terrorist to Iraq.
The remarks of the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut, were even more pointed.
“Acceding to shameless assertions of Iraqi sovereignty,” said Shays, “sovereignty already betrayed by Saddam's brutal willingness to starve the Iraqi people, the U.N. gave the Hussein regime control over critical aspects of the program.”
"Chinese, French and Russian delegates to the Security Council sanctions committee deftly tabled persistent reports of abuses.” And as a result, "the contractors hired to finance and monitor the program had only limited authority to enforce safeguards.
"The U.N. sanctions (against Iraq) were all but eviscerated, turned inside out by political manipulation and financial greed. Saddam's regime was not collapsing from within. It was thriving. He was not safely contained, as some contend, but was daily gaining the means to threaten regional and global stability again, once sanctions were removed."
About $1.78 billion of the $10 billion Saddam had skimmed from the U.N. program was paid out to French government officials, businessmen and journalists. The remainder, according to a report released Oct. 6th by a CIA-led Iraqi Survey Group, was used by Saddam to purchase military goods.
An Iraqi 1992 intelligence service report disclosed that in 1988 its ambassador to France paid $1 million to the French Socialist Party. According to the report, the ambassador was to “utilize” the money “to remind French Defense Minister Pierre Joxe indirectly about Iraq’s previous positions towards France, in general, and the French Socialist Party, in particular.”
Saddam also used the oil-purchasing voucher system as a means of encouraging French opposition to U.N. initiatives proposed by the United States in the late 1990’s. Iraq’s Intelligence Service supplied vouchers to French nationals, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions by selling them to oil buyers.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in the Survey Group report that he personally awarded several Frenchmen “substantial” oil allotments. France’s Interior Minister, Charles Pascua, received a voucher for 13 million barrels. The chief executive officer of France’s SOCO oil company, Patrick Maugein, the recipient of 13 million barrels of oil, was a “conduit” to Prime Minister Jacques Chirac.
Democrat presidential candidate Kerry pledged to engage the French on the side of the angels in attempting to establish a democracy in a post-Saddam Iraq, even though he must have knon that Chirac eEver the Gallic maverick, already had said he would not be willing to accede to such a request, whomever the Americans chose as president.
Perhaps it’s just as well. With friends like the French, who needs enemies?