April 27, 2004

UNSCAM UPDATE: James Morrow has a column in The Australian on the oil-for-food scandal:

Those named include not just Sevan but a vast array of Russian politicians, close friends of French President Jacques Chirac (including France’s former minister of the interior), British Labour MP George Galloway, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and, closer to home, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

In short, it’s a who’s who list of high-profile anti-war and anti-sanctions voices, all revealed to be shills for Saddam.

But by far the biggest recipient of Saddam’s largesse was the UN. During the program’s existence, more than $US1 billion was kept by the organisation as a fee for administering the program. As one senior UN diplomat recently told London’s Daily Telegraph: “The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam’s government was keeping the UN going for a few years.”

Amazingly, though, it has taken an incredible amount of time for this story to get what little traction it has so far gained in the media. (Certainly the anti-war Left, which is happy to believe that George W. Bush toppled Saddam to kick a few contracts to Dick Cheney’s old pals at Halliburton, has been deafeningly silent on the topic.)

Perhaps because of all the DIY international lawyering engaged in by the world press corps in the run-up to Iraq’s invasion, many journalists are reluctant to admit that the UN they put so much faith in was many times more corrupt than they could imagine the Bush White House being.

Or maybe they just don’t want to admit that so many of the anti-war voices they used to support their stories were bought and paid for with money belonging to the long-suffering, if little-mentioned, Iraqi people.

But the naive belief among journalists with little or no international law background that no military action is legitimate without the UN’s seal of approval is one thing. The continued fetishistic belief of politicians and opinion-makers in the supposed good intentions of the UN is another — and it is something that needs to end immediately.

It’s ended here.