Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oil for Food Scammers...by Rob Richards


Have you ever been to the doctor for one thing, but fortunately found out about something more serious that may have gone unnoticed that now could be treated? Have you ever taken your car into the shop for maintenance and gladly found out that you avoided a more costly scenario by catching the problem in time?

I am sick of listening to the anti-war lefties with 20/20 hindsight that ramble on about the WMD’s. Their argument would hold some merit if it could only stop at “Did they exist?” and “Where are they?” but NO. They have to take that additional misguided leap into “we should have let the inspectors finish their job” and “the UN inspections were working and keeping Saddam in check”.

After the first Gulf War, President Clinton introduced to the UN the OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAM. This was to prevent the Iraqi citizens from being negatively affected by the economic sanctions placed on Saddam and targeting the demilitarizing of his regime. As we all know, corruption immediately followed. This did not serve as a deterrent to Saddam, but rather as a financing arm to his rebuilding efforts. Easily bribed countries and corporations were allowed to buy coupons for Iraqi oil and then sell them on the open market. Of course, there were handling fees at every step of the way – including a ridiculous 2.2% going straight to the UN as an administrative charge.

As the scandal was exposed, it was no surprise to find people involved all over the UN. And would you believe contracts given to France, Russia and China? Hmmm… let’s see. Those are the same three members of the security council that thought the UN inspections were working and Saddam was best left alone. You find some guy willing to stuff $100 bills in my back pocket and I’ll find a way to defend him.

After this scheme ended in 2003, the GAO stepped in to establish a clearer picture of the abuse. It estimated Saddam generated over $10 billion in illegal revenues (nearly $6B in oil smuggling and over $4B in bogus surcharges. And how about the Iraqi ambassador to Jordan, Sabah Yassan, using OFF money to pay $15k-$20k to families of Palestinian suicide bombers. And shockingly, there were even Al Queda linked people and organizations “on the take”. Yeah, I know. I know. Al Queda wasn’t in Iraq until we got there. They were funded from afar.

Bottom line is this, we may have gone in to the doctor with symptoms of WMD’s, but believe me that patient on the table was dying of something else. And I for one am glad the UN got exposed for the joke that it is. Those weapons inspections were NOT working and the UN is the last group the world needs handling money, human rights violations, or anything for that matter!

12 comments:

namaste said...

hmmm... am i an anti-war lefty? well let's see... i DO want the troops to come home. BUT i write with my right hand. so that makes me neutral! ;)

nik, i think these are very good assertions. besides, clinton, like all presidents before him and all that come after him, is only human and he can make mistakes.

:)

~m

CHATTI PATTI said...

It is almost impossible to figure out the truths in these matters. Everyone and anyone can throw out statistics, figures, dollar amounts, time lines, etc....but distinguishing the truth is almost non-existant. It depends on whom you ask.

Kudos to those who research and follow these situations faithfully and with good intent, however, tmi gets thrown in the pot, stirred by controversy, spiced up with emotion, and what you have left is "sour soup" that eventually gets tossed in the sink , down the disposal and gets washed away with the rest of the sewage.

The analogy of doctor/patient was awesome and can be used in any situation and with every presidential administration that has ever existed. Again, depends on whom you ask.

ba and the boys said...

so is this really rob posting? he wont post on his own blog, but he will come and make some political statement on nikkis!

Nikki said...

Maria, sometimes neutral is a good place to be int this hot topic...I want the troops to come home too, but not irresponsibly. Clinton made mistakes and all Presidents do, a very good point. Our current President included that is stipulated, but he doesn't get the same leeway...and I am not speaking of the Iraq war as one of those mistakes IMO...thanks my little Switzerland. :)N

BA this really is by Rob he has been belly-aching about it for a while so I told him to write something and e-mail it to me and of course I am answering his comments...lazy butt haha :)


Chatti Patti, thanks for the comment. People do get overloaded with information and a lot of times it is either dumbed down or biased. It is difficult to sift through the crap but hearing all sides to an argument helps to decifer...the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle :)N

Mike said...

Nikki, I don't understand how the UN Oil For Food Program (OFFP) being corrupt means that the inspections weren't working. I don't see the connection.

The OFFP was first proposed in 1991, so I don't know that you can blame the whole thing on Clinton. Though since the purpose of the OFFP was to alleviate some of the suffering caused by the economic sanctions, I think it should be praised. Sure, it was corrupt. No big shock there. Any time there is a large amount of money up for grabs, people are going to be grabbing for it.

The thing is that imposing sanctions against a country is perhaps the worst thing that can be done. The ruling party never suffers as a result, only the oppressed people do. Iraq was proof of that, as was North Korea. Now, we'll see the same thing in Iran. The people will suffer and the rulers will live high on the hog (so to speak.)

Back in 1996, Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes asked then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright if she thought it was worth having over half a million children 5 years and under die as a result of the US-backed sanctions against Iraq. Albright said, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it." I don't know how she could live with herself.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. The point is that the OFFP was a success, insofar as it did provide the people of Iraq with an increased standard of living and helped to reduce malnutrition among the children.

One last thing, the left isn't exercising hindsight regarding WMDs. I, and many others, knew from the very start that the "intelligence" the Bush administration was peddling was BS.

One more last thing. We should have let the inspectors finish their job. :)

Nikki said...

from Rob...I only mentioned Pres Clinton as a reference point to the timetable after Gulf War One when this plan originated. Don’t worry, I’m not saying the Oil for Food scandal was Bubba’s fault. However, I do think the quick and partisan reaction is interesting. Even though I don’t like Bill Clinton, there were plenty of good things done during his watch that I would give him credit for (whether directly or indirectly). I do still marvel at many of the anti-Bushites in the blogosphere who seem to quickly shut the ‘double-thick, motel curtains’ that won’t let through ANY light of goodness or promise shine through when evaluating any aspect of the Bush administration.


Mike, Sorry you can’t put my A & B together in this example. I kind of see what you’re saying, but not really… Here’s my point. If the UN was so gravely and dishonestly mishandling the OFF program, why would you assume the weapons inspectors from the same UN would not be somehow under the same influence for what they would either find and/or report. To me, that doesn’t seem to be such a stretch to question their credibility. And while they differ in percentages, there are MANY studies, surveys, etc. that would dispute the “quality” of the food you say was a SUCCESS in improving the quality of life for Iraqis. Some found as much as 50% not edible. Spoiled cooking oil. Rotten soap. Expired medicine. “The food may not be the highest grade, but efforts are made to make it fit for human consumption” – UN response to quality concerns. Yummy! This is not a partisan post to compare or criticize Reps or Dems, but rather call into question the UN as a valid or reputable standard. Thanks for all the comments and discussion.

Mike said...

Hey, Rob. I think what you said was, "President Clinton introduced to the UN the OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAM." I took that to mean that you thought it was Clinton's idea. I simply pointed out that the program was first brought up in the UN in 1991.

Your main point, though, seems to be that since there were people in the UN who allegedly committed crimes in conjunction with the OFFP, that the entire UN is tainted, and we can't trust the weapons inspectors to have done their job.

This seems like flawed logic to me. If someone in the Bush administration tells a demonstrable lie, does that mean that you would not trust anything any of them say ever again? I've never read anything that would suggest that Hans Blix's crew wasn't on the up and up. The fact that there were no WMD would add to their credibility, I should think. If they were crooked, wouldn't we have found some weapons? Or was Saddam bribing them to report that he had no weapons, even though he really had no weapons?

As for the success of the program, I obviously can't vouch for the quality of the food, but the malnutrition rates did go down after the program started. Fewer children died. Whatever they were eating, I'd call that a success, at least a relative one. Keep in mind, my main point is that economic sanctions are useless and only hurt the people who are already suffering.

Nikki said...

I am going to chime in for a second...Mike Saddam himself was spreading rumors that he had WMD's. Do you think the inspectors knew or didn't know he did not have WMD's? Saddam was lying to everyone. He was acting like he did to his neighbors to appear stronger than he really was. Doesn't it seem plausible that at the time he couldn't rat himself out. He continued his charade and the inspectors were corrupt thinking he did in fact have weapons but reporting that they could not find any...and yet they were right because they were reporting for a liar. Hans Blix is as crooked as they come. that's my 2 pennies.

Nikki said...

follow-up to Mike...sorry I have been thinking about this and Mike I wonder why it is that you are so quick to defend and give the benefit of doubt to the UN but when it comes to your own government you will not? :)N

Rob said...

Hans Blix repeatedly admitted that while the WMD's were never found, that doesn't mean they didn't exist. They did. In fact, Hans' problem with Saddam is that he never proved that his confirmed weapons were ever destroyed. Plenty of lying done here besided US politicians.

Mike said...

Nikki, I'm not giving benefit of the doubt to the UN. I simply haven't read anything that would make me think that Hans Blix is the crook that you say he is. Saddam's bluster is irrelevant. The inspectors went to sites of interest, were given access, and found nothing. Whatever Saddam said, there was no evidence that he had any weapons.

Rob, you say that the WMD existed. Do you have any evidence to back up that claim? Blix's team found none. The Iraq Survey Group found none. We have been running the country for almost 5 years and no WMD have turned up. Saddam had dreams of re-starting his WMD programs, but his economy was in such a shambles due to the sanctions that he couldn't. I suppose in that regard, the sanctions worked. Whether they were worth the cost is a matter of debate, imo.

"I'm certainly more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they maintained, destroyed almost all of what they had in the summer of 1991." -Hans Blix: 16 September 2003.

"ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation—including detainee interviews and document exploitation—leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability." -Iraq Survey Group Final Report

Again, there were no WMD.

Khaki Elephant said...

Proof that WMDs existed? How about gassed Kurdish bodies lying in the sand? We know Saddam had them because he used them. The inspectors also could find no evidence that the WMDs Saddam did have were ever destroyed (I believe Blix said they were playing 'cat and mouse'). What happened to them? That was the root of the concern.

After Iraq's liberation the troops found plans for WMDs, labs for WMDs, over 500 munitions carrying degraded mustard gas or sarin nerve agent, everything but active stockpiles of WMDs. Were they really on those trucks the satellites picked up headed for Syria just before America struck? Should Bush have pulled a Clinton and attacked without going to the UN?

No, no, it was just Bush lying. I didn't have the ability to see it before, but in hindsight, yep, Bush was just a big fat liar. . . . I know now that when Bill Clinton said Iraq had WMDs during his administration it was Bush lying. And MI-6 made the claim it was Bush lying. George Tenet's report to Bush and the intelligence committee that it was a slam dunk was Bush lying. Defecting Iraqis claiming knowledge of WMDs to American and European liaisons, ah, that was Bush lying. When Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh said Iraq had WMDs it just had to be Bush lying . . . in fact, I wish I would have recognized Dubya's brilliance in manipulating some of the most power leaders and intelligence agencies in the world to spew his lies from their lips. His evil genius just took me in.