Kofi Annan Endorses Unilateral Action By Anglo-American Alliance

Under pressure from the revelation of what may be the largest corruption case in history, Kofi Annan attempted to strike back at critics of the UN and the Oil-For-Food program, asserting that member nations never alerted Annan to the smuggling and the kickbacks that stuffed Saddam’s pockets:

Annan pointed out that all members of the U.N. Security Council were on the committee overseeing the program, yet none had come forward and said “we had a role.” Instead, Annan said, all accusations of wrongdoing were being leveled at the U.N. Secretariat which he heads.
“Be that as it may, these allegations are doing damage, and we need to face them sternly and do whatever we can to correct them,” he said. “And we are beginning to put out quite a lot of information which I hope will correct some of the misinformation that has been put out.”

Annan wants to play a little misdirection with the facts. The UN specifically was put in charge of this program and was supposed to be administering the contracts and the shipments, guaranteeing that the money stayed within the program and that the proceeds went to aid Iraqi citizens, not Saddam’s regime. If it had trouble fulfilling that mission, the UN Secretariat should have informed the Security Council, at which time the UNSC could have decided on a course of corrective action. In fact, as the excellent blog Friends of Saddam notes in several posts, the UN OFF relaxed its oversight over time, allowing a much wider range of goods to be purchased and eliminating most rudimentary accounting controls.
But Kofi’s blameshifting is not the real story here. When responding to the allegations of smuggling, Annan said:

On the $5.7 billion that the GAO estimates Saddam pocketed through smuggling, Annan said “there was no way the U.N. could have stopped it” but he suggested the United States and Britain could have.
“We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling,” he said. “There was a maritime task force that was supposed to do that. They (the Iraqis) were driving the trucks through northern Iraq to Turkey. The U.S. and the British had planes in the air. We were not there. Why is this all being dumped on the U.N.?”

Annan’s remarks boggle the mind. He literally endorsed the entire idea of unilateral action by the Anglo-American alliance to enforce UNSC restrictions that the UN was clearly unable to maintain. In fact, what he says here is that the OFF corruption can be blamed on the US and the UK failing to act, even without specific UN approval, when Saddam clearly was in violation of UNSC resolutions well before 2002.
Annan, simply put, just agreed with everything George Bush has said in his justifications for military action in Iraq. Saddam clearly was in violation of Resolution 1441 — even Hans Blix acknowledged that — so Anglo-American military action, in Annan’s view, was justified. Saddam, in fact, violated every single one of the UNSC resolutions related to disarmament, human rights, and reparations after the Gulf War, especially in continuing to oppress Iraqi citizens — and so Anglo-American military action to rectify the situation was necessary, as the UN was unable to act on its own to stop it.
In fact, since the first whiffs of the OFF debacle only started coming out publicly in the run-up to the war, and since continuation of sanctions would have continued the smuggling and kickbacks by Saddam and his henchmen, Annan has now legitimized the Coalition action to remove the tyrranical regime and put an end to the OFF program.
Alert John Kerry — even the UN Secretary General has conceded the worthlessness of the UN in enforcing world order, and has endorsed the Anglo-American initiative to reintroduce accountability to international relations.

Friends of Saddam: What’s New?

Stephen at Friends of Saddam, your one-stop clearingblog for all things Oil-For-Food scandal-related, has created a new Excel file listing the 270 recipients of Saddam’s kickbacks. It makes for a handy guide, sortable by country, name, or amount received. A second tab breaks everything out by country. If you need data for a post on UNSCAM, this Excel file certainly provides the detail you need.
Today, FoS also notes that Swiss criminal-law professor Mark Pieth has been selected as one of the independent experts to probe the OFF program. Pieth is an expert on money-laundering, a skill that will definitely figure into the probe, as a whole lot of money went a whole lot of places it shouldn’t.
Don’t forget to blogroll Friends of Saddam and check back frequently for updates. If you use a news aggregator like I do, use their XML feed to get up-to-the-hour notices of new posts.

Annan: Shoot the Critics

Predictably, when a bureaucracy comes under criticism, the bureaucrats respond by attacking the critics rather than addressing the issues. Kofi Annan heads the world’s most unaccountable bureaucracy, and so his response to damaging revelations about the multibillion-dollar Oil-For-Food scam comes as no surprise:

Secretary-General Kofi Annan accused critics of the U.N. oil-for-food program Thursday of treating allegations of corruption as fact and ignoring the program’s role of providing aid to nearly every Iraqi family.

Very much like OFF program Benon Sevan’s dismissal of corruption, when he said that 90% of the money went where it was intended, so why all the fuss over the remaining 10%?

The U.N. chief declared that he was “very keen” for the three-member panel led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to report “as soon as possible.” And he promised that any U.N. official found guilty of accepting bribes or kickbacks would be dealt with “very severely.”
Annan said he met Wednesday with Benon Sevan, who headed the oil-for-food program and has been accused of receiving kickbacks from Saddam Hussein’s government, to discuss the allegations and cooperation with the investigation. …
“Benon has stated quite clearly that he is innocent,” Annan said.

Well, that’s a surprise. Because as I’ve noted before, documents uncovered in Iraq show Sevan and hundreds of other bureaucrats from inside and outside the UN to have received millions of dollars in oil futures.
Perhaps it’s important to act as if we were all judges and issue the trite disclaimer that “nothing has been proven yet” every time we speak of this issue, but regardless of whether one particular individual dipped his own hands into the trough, clearly the UN actively dismantled every safeguard and check on this program, and just as clearly the program allowed Saddam to stuff his pockets with tons of cash — which is exactly what the UNSC sanctions were supposed to prevent. As Claudia Rosett notes in her excellent Commentary review, the OFF program strengthened Saddam immeasurably while weakening everyone else in Iraq. No serious doubt remains at the sheer magnitude of the incompetence of this program and the organization which ran it as its own private fiefdom, profiting handsomely from it (over $1.4 billion in admin fees alone).
Annan surely has the right to defend himself publicly, but every time he proclaims that OFF mostly helped Iraqi families in the face of overwhelming evidence that it didn’t, he makes the UN less credible and his critics more so, especially in Iraq, where they know how little of that money they actually saw.