Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The UN's "Oil for Spoils" Program

In the second hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) on the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program, Chairman Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) said new evidence suggests Benon Sevan, former Executive Director of the U.N. Office of the Iraq Program, personally received oil allocations worth $1.2 million and called for the United Nations to waive Sevan’s diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution immediately. The Oil-for-Food program (OFF) was instigated in 1996 to provide food, medicine and humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people through the controlled sale of Iraqi oil, but ultimately generated an estimated $21.3 billion in illegal revenue for Saddam Hussein through smuggling, kickbacks, and other schemes in contravention of U.N. sanctions regimes.

...“The gross mismanagement of almost every aspect of the Oil-for-Food program is simply inexcusable and wasted over $690 million,” Coleman said. “Every organization has its shortcomings, but I cannot recall any organization where the scope of its problems encompassed every basic management skill needed to ensure an effective program. American taxpayers pay close to 22 percent of the U.N.’s operating costs. They need assurances that their tax dollars are well spent, especially in light of the fact that sanctions will likely be imposed upon rogue nations in the future.”

Senator Norm Coleman Website

This goes to the heart of the case for invading Iraq. The status quo that existed at the time was just not a viable alternative. I have heard many criticisms of the war for Iraq, and many have their merits, but I have yet to hear a viable alternative to the confrontation.
  • Lifting the sanction would have set a destructive precedent and as such was not an option;
  • Keeping the sanctions in full would have killed many more Iraqis. Even if you accept Iraqi statistics, over 10 times more people died as a result of sanctions (which no longer exist) than did in the war and its aftermath; And
  • The Oil for Food program put the oil in the wrong hands and the food in the wrong mouths.
War was the only choice. It was the option with the lowest human-cost.

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