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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Oil for Food

When the fox is in charge of the henhouse, the fox gets fat and the hens get the shaft.

Investigations are presently under way in the Oil-for-Food program the United Nations administered in Iraq over the last 13 years of Saddam Hussein's regime while trying to determine if Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction from U.N. inspectors. The Oil-for-Food program was originally set up by the U.N. to allow Iraq to sell limited amounts of oil and to use those profits for food, medicine and other needed supplies.

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chairman, has been appointed by U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan to lead an investigation into this alleged corruption. Both the House and Senate are also looking into this matter. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn) is heading the Senate investigation on behalf of the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, while Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill), chairman of the House Committee on International Affairs, is conducting an investigation in the House of Representatives.

According to preliminary findings, a substantial portion of the funds that were intended to be distributed to the Iraqi people were systematically diverted to French and Russian politicians, terrorists, a covert weapon systems program and into Saddam Hussein's pocket.

The U.N. Secretariat was responsible for overseeing the Oil-for-Food project, ensuring that contractors who purchased Iraqi oil and sold humanitarian supplies operated within the guidelines. Over the course of the program, the U.N. Secretariat received a large commission on each sale of oil. The Volcker investigation has revealed that the scandal involves some 248 companies that bought Iraqi oil since the program began.

According to the Hyde committee, Saddam Hussein managed to skim off an estimated $21.3 billion, perhaps more, by setting up several hundred phony companies and diverting money through secret bank accounts in Jordan. Much of the money Hussein confiscated was used to purchase weapons or bribe foreign officials (mostly French and Russian), or it was funneled to terrorists. For example, Hussein made numerous payments of $25,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers in an attempt to win support in the Arab world.

The largest benefactors of the Oil-for-Food program, other than Saddam Hussein and his band of thugs, were Russia and France. Perhaps this could explain why Russia and France were opposed to the war in Iraq.

The USA has taken a lot of criticism for its actions in Iraq, from both home and abroad. There have been a few mistakes made, particularly in the intelligence community, and some rogue elements in the military, primarily a small number of those in charge of prisoners, have gone astray and tarnished our image. But the USA doesn't take kickbacks for dispensing aid, nor do we kidnap and assassinate innocent civilians. Furthermore, it's not the goal of the USA to occupy foreign lands or subjugate foreign peoples.

In light of the extensive U.N. corruption scandal and many of the revelations of how Saddam Hussein treated his subjects, including diabolical torture and mass murder, perhaps we weren't the bad guys after all.

Our desire as a nation is to live in peace and harmony with all of our neighbors. But we can't just stick our heads in the sand and hope justice will prevail simply because we wish it to be true. This is a cruel world filled with dangerous, greedy people. Sometimes you have to step forward and make things right.

The United States of America has always stood for freedom and justice, and has made numerous sacrifices on behalf of humanity all over the globe. We've made many wrong turns in the past, but our intentions were always honorable. When cruelty prevails on such a grotesque scale, as it did under Saddam Hussein, we can no longer ignore it. For better or worse, we have the capacity to confront evil and the will to do so when all else fails.

We're not perfect, but we're a nation of noble ideals and far superior to those who profit from the misery of others. As long as we continue to champion freedom and justice for all, we will continue to prosper.