After a year-long investigation, Australia’s Cole commission has just tabled its report on the Lucky Country’s role in an alleged $220 million or so worth of kickbacks paid to Saddam Hussein’s regime under the UN Oil-for-Food program. The inquiry, led by a former judge, Terence Cole, has cleared the Howard government, but recommends further investigation into possible criminal offenses by 12 individuals, 11 of them connected with the Australian Wheat Board. The report runs to five volumes, totaling more than 2,000 pages, which for full coverage warrants at least a couple of evenings and maybe a stiff drink. But one observation upfront:
Australia was just one of the top ten countries doing business with Saddam under the graft-ridden UN program, which enabled Saddam via various scams to amass not just a measly couple of hundred million, but billions in illicit funds. Apart from France, where authorities are now doing something-or-other deep within the recesses of their Napoleonic system, none of the others in the top 10 — that would be Russia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, China, Turkey and Syria — has shown any sign so far of conducting an Australian-style public inquiry. So apart from Australia and (yes, I know, but let’s be generous) France, how does it work that under a UN system in which member states are left to police themselves, we are now supposed to believe this same crew would honor any UN sanctions imposed on Iran?