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Euros, Dems, and Kofi's Cronies
Commentary by Greg Lewis / TheRant.US
In the wake of the release of a preliminary report by the Paul-Volcker-led team "investigating" the relatively unimportant — to judge by the mainstream media coverage afforded it — "irregularities" in the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, it will be instructive to review the roles of some of the pivotal players in the above-referenced $US 20 billion ripoff. (Eastman Kodak Company, by comparison, earned about 2/3 that amount — $US 13.4 billion — in fiscal 2004.)
What jumps out here is not only the enormity, as measured by its sheer dollar-volume, of a story I hope will be at some point be granted legitimate "scandal" status by the mainstream media (who, one would think, must be veritably salivating at the chance to cover a scandal much more serious if less juicy than the Michael Jackson affair), but also the broad scope of the collusion and corruption that necessarily had to occur for something of this magnitude to go unnoticed for such a long time.
Which is to say, if you're a Middle-East dictator bent on spreading 20 billion dollars around by offering chits to purchase your country's oil at a 50-cent per barrel discount to the players in governments whose influence you want to buy, you're going to have to involve a hell of a lot of folks and a hell of a lot of barrels of oil. Of course, oil wasn't the only commodity at issue here. Everything from weapons to cushy jobs to slush-fund payola comes into play in a scandal of this magnitude.
By the time push came to shove in international diplomatic circles, many EU leaders had availed themselves of the chance to purchase from Saddam Hussein options to buy Iraqi oil at discounted prices, which options they could subsequently sell at a profit, which profit (often amounting to hundreds of thousands, not to say millions, of dollars) they could pocket in exchange for representing Saddam Hussein's interests to their governments and to the world at large, particularly to the United Nations "community." "One hand washes the other," as the phrase which describes such practices goes.
With regard to the high-level conflicts-of-interest involved: Prior to the U.S. military overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government, Germany had been one of the largest western suppliers to Iraq of munitions, technical products, and so-called dual-use goods. The value of this business was more than US$ 300 million in 2001, and its loss was seen at the time as at least detrimental, if not daunting, to Germany's hopes for recovery from its socialist-policy-induced economic malaise, and as such was to be protected at all costs.
Germany was not alone. In typically perverse fashion, the French managed to find yet another dictatorial regime to appease in the name of "peace in our time." In 2001, France did approximately US$ 1.5 billion worth of business with Iraq, more than any other European Union country. Between the inception of the UN oil-for-food program in 1996 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq, France's trade with Iraq amounted to US$ 3.1 billion. France was, to boot, owed more than US$ 4 billion by Saddam's government, putting it in third place among Iraq's creditors. France was Iraq's largest western trading partner, and French petroleum interests held the rights to develop Iraqi oil fields promising yields of more than 20 billion barrels.
Russia was, prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, that country's largest creditor, with estimates of Iraq's indebtedness to Russia ranging from US$ 7 billion to 12 billion. To a nation (Russia) whose GDP hovered in the US$ 300-350 billion range, this was not a debt that could be easily forgiven. In addition, Russia, in the name of its LUKoil, had prior to 2001 gained significant commitments from Saddam Hussein to develop Iraqi oil fields.
And so, while the socialist-leaning governments of these three powerful nations were riddled by corruption and thus could in no wise have been expected to support a UN-mandated (in response to Iraq's recalcitrant defiance of prior UN demands) military overthrow of Saddam's government, they nonetheless were broadly, albeit disingenuously, seen by left-leaning U.S. and international media, as representing the interests of trying to achieve a diplomatic resolution of the problem. In this they were aided by an aroused anti-war contingency, both in the United States and in Europe.
Enter U.S. Democratic Party operatives. The confluence of leftist positions, including what has to be, given libs' actions during the past year or so, a genetic hatred of George W. Bush in combination with a blind adherence to an anti-war, anti-corporate mentality that was fomented by agents of international communism in the 1920s and '30s as a blind for communists' rapacious ambition to overthrow capitalist democracies around the world and to which so many on the left still cling today . . . well, suffice it to say that, among American Democrat and leftist believers, supporters of Saddam Hussein's right to continue to govern Iraq by means no less murderous and tyrranical than those of ur-Communist Josef Stalin found a home. Indeed, it would seem that the more innocent civilians a tyrant can manage to murder, the more worthy he is of support from left-liberals.
The moral-equivalency exchange has involved the mainstream media's and the international community's simply choosing to ignore the UN Oil-For-Food scandal, in the process allowing the perps to avoid the spotlight, if not yet to avoid prosecution. The political positions of the International Left are vociferously represented among the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. By blindly deflecting, not to say dismissing out of hand, justified criticism of the utterly corrupt nature of this UN program, American liberal Democrats are implicitly allying themselves with the likes of Kofi (and his son, Kojo) Annan, UN Oil-For-Food Program overseer Benon Savan, and any number of praetorian Euro diplomats, who, like our own Democrat party, do not have America's best interests at heart.