The Swedish Foreign Ministry was delegated to investigate who knew what about corruption in the U.N.’s oil-for-food program in Iraq. The report has now been made public by a Swedish radio station. It says that Ole Kolby, Norway’s U.N. ambassador at the time and head of the sanctions committee, knew about the program’s corruption but “remained quiet for fear of angering Iraq and big companies involved in the program.”
What was most interesting to me was Norway’s stated justification for condoning corruption at the U.N.:
Henrik Thune of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs told Aftenposten that Kolby was caught between competing interests, including fear of fueling the push for war in the Bush administration if he revealed corruption in the Oil for Food program.
I’m not sure whether that makes any sense. Saddam paid kickbacks for years; is Kolbe saying that he only found out about it in the winter of 2003? But let’s taike the Norwegians at their word. It seems that the Bush bogeyman can be trotted out to justify just about any sort of malfeasance.
This is reminiscent of the recent admission by Kevin Drum, a rather prominent liberal, especially on the web, that he refrains from writing about the threat posed by Iran because doing so would help the Bush administration. One wonders how much of the “reality” reported in the news is influenced by the determination of both politicians and journalists not to mention the facts that tend to support the reasonableness of, and necessity for, the Bush administration’s policies.