Commentary Magazine has posted Claudia Rosett’s lead article from its May issue: “The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It?” Rosett writes:
Oil-for-Food tainted almost everything it touched. It was such a kaleidoscope of corruption as to defy easy summary, let alone concentration on the main issues. But let us try.
Rosett concludes with a speculative observation and with a pointed question:
The UN, in the name of its own lofty principles, and to its rich emolument, actively helped sustain and protect a tyrant whose brutality and repression were the cause of Iraqi deprivation in the first place. What can this mean? The answer may be simply that, along with its secrecy, its massed cadres of bureaucrats beholden to the favor of the man at the top, its almost complete lack of accountability, external oversight, or the most elementary checks and balances, the UN suffers from an endemic affinity with anti-Western despots, and will turn a blind eye to the devil himself in order to keep them in power. Certainly there is much in its history and its behavior to support this view.
Perhaps, then, the complicity was there all along, built in, and was merely reinforced year after year as the UN collected the commissions and processed the funds that transformed Oil-for-Food into the sleaziest program ever to fly the UN flag and the single largest item on every budget of all nine UN agencies involved, plus the Secretariat itself. That, in the end, may be the dirty secret at the center of the Oil-for-Food scandal.
And is this the same United Nations that, now, we are planning to entrust with bringing democracy to Iraq?