candid thoughts on the issues of the day.
How Oil-for-Food Went Mob
Published on October 27, 2005 By The Way In Current Events
I believe in America. America has made my fortune. And I raised my daughter in the American fashion. I gave her freedom, but I taught her never to dishonor her family.

--Amerigo Bonasera from “The Godfather” (Film, 1972)

Military Action in Iraq is a deeply controversial issue, but ultimately it is an issue of competing values: Freedom vs. Peace; Democracy vs. International Order; and even, as we will see, Law vs. Family Values.

I have great respect for both sides of argument for and against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 because essentially each side (if they have a sound argument) is making a choice on the superiority of two competing sets of values. What I have no respect for, however, is the case made by the French and Russian governments that military action in Iraq went against the charter and general spirit and values of the United Nations.

Although it was already quite apparent at the time, both France and Russia had enormous economic interests in maintaining Saddam Hussein's regime, and now it has become clear that not only were these economic interests great in value, they were severely lacking in legitimacy. As today’s New York Times front-page article, “U.N. to Detail Kickbacks Paid for Iraq's Oil,” describes, the UN “oil-for-food” program was teeming with corruption for nearly a decade prior to the 2003 invasion.

Thousands of companies took advantage of Saddam Hussein’s complete disregard of the values of the United Nations—and these companies are ultimately to blame—but on some higher-order level, the governments who regulate these companies may also be guilty of negligence for their failure to put a stop to this gross abuse of UN leniency (on sanctions against Iraq).

This list of companies involved in this scandal will be released later today, and it is sure to include companies spread across the globe (including the United States), but an interesting feature is that the two countries with the most companies on the list are none other than our “noble defenders of the UN”, Russia and France.

In a statement with remarkable hindsight-irony, deputy speaker of the lower house of Russia's Parliament, Vladimir P. Lukin, provides a telling analogy:

Do you know the difference between a policeman and a gangster? A policeman complies with rules that are elaborated not by the policeman, but a certain democratic community accepted by everyone. A gangster implements his own rules. (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/06/international/europe/06IRAQ.html)

As far is I can tell, the world is not yet a democratic community (even the UN is far from being fully-democratic), so international law or the UN would not fit the role of “policeman” in this analogy. Therefore, the only applicable “rules” would be national law of democracies. A quick survey of this set of laws will show that every democratic country reserves the right to wage war to protect its interests and maintains a national system of law to authorize and implement this war-waging.

To the best of my knowledge, all the countries that make up the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” (I admit, the term has a certain bias…but it also has a simple, frank logic to it that I like.) followed all applicable national laws in their use exercise of force. President Bush certainly followed the applicable U.S. law (precisely Public Law 107-243, but for a more comprehensive set of applicable laws, see http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/17330.pdf).

I’m hesitant to go so far as to say Russia and France are guilty of being “gangsters”, but they certainly can be criticized for allowing a gross “mobster” environment to operate in their respective private sectors. And I can only suspect some government knowledge of this corrupt activity, taking place at such high levels for such a long period of time.

The real test of policeman vs. gangster, however, will be after the report is published by the UN. Will the Russian and French governments prosecute those companies which evidence suggests were guilty of violating their respective national regulations regarding trade with Iraq? Will the Russian and French governments accept responsibility for violations of Security Council sanctions, committed by their respective private sectors?
These are the most interesting and compelling questions to find out who really is committed to the values of the United Nations, in sacrifice of national economic and political allegiances—or what we might even call in the Mr. Lukin's analogy “Family Values…”

“News Article of Inspiration” available at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/27/international/middleeast/27food.html?emc=eta1

Comments
on Oct 27, 2005

Through Leaks I gather, several companies in the US have already been implicated. 

Excellent article.

on Oct 27, 2005
Excellent article, well reasoned and articulated.

-Dan
Meta
Views
» 1595
Comments
» 2
Category
Sponsored Links