The Third Airplane
Paul Volcker says what many guessed. The sanctions put in place by the International Community to cage Saddam were circumvented by anyone who had a mind to. The caged beast was ordering for home delivery from a list of providers all too eager to serve him.
More than 2,200 companies, including major concerns like DaimlerChrysler, Siemens and Volvo, made illicit payments totalling $US1.8 billion ... to Saddam Hussein's government during the UN oil-for food program, a report says.
... this was far less than the nearly $US11 billion Saddam made in smuggled oil sales ... The report blamed UN officials for a lack of oversight and said Security Council members took little action when UN oil experts passed on their concerns. In addition, the BNP-Paribas bank, which held the escrow account for the program, did not disclose evidence of corruption in its possession, the report said. Preferential treatment was given to companies in France, Russia and China, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favourable to lifting the 1990 sanctions compared to the United States, Britain and Japan. Among those named in the report as receiving oil vouchers ... were British lawmaker George Galloway, former French UN Ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee, former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua and Russian ultranationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Even the Australian Wheat Board, hardly a household name throughout the world, paid "$US221.7 million to a Jordan-based collection agent for the Iraqi government under the program, the report said."
The fundamental argument against international military action is the supposition that effective alternatives exist to contain rogue states and tyrants. But what if it does not? The Volcker Report essentially describes the history of the decade-long diplomatic battle to proscribe the movements of Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War. It is an account of the unmitigated defeat of the "international community" at the hands of Saddam; not only a defeat but a rout and a surrender. And although the surrender had already taken place, the world was told categorically by the capitulators themselves that they were fighting and winning the good fight against the forces of lawlessness. The problem with September 11 was not that it happened, but that it happened where it could not be ignored; this fact was the virtual third aircraft that crashed into Manhattan that day, striking somewhere in the vicinity of Turtle Bay.
While on this subject, readers may wish to visit this New York Times link, The Many Streams That Fed the River of Graft to Hussein, a heading that has a certain B-Movie quality about it, like 'The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao' or the 'Many Faces of Hercules'. That atmosphere suits the Times' description of how Oil For Food money flowed into the pockets of the so-called advocates for international peace. Some snippets:
Claude Kaspereit, a businessman and son of a French member of Parliament, flew French men and women opposed to penalties on Baghdad and expressed solidarity with Mr. Hussein, and afterwards received allocations ... Mr. Aziz was also the contact point for Father Benjamin, an antiwar activist who founded the Benjamin Committee for Iraq in 1999. ... The priest received what he called a donation of $140,000, and the committee said his Vatican bank account showed a $90,000 deposit the same day. ... Mr. Aziz also worked with George Galloway, a British member of Parliament, who was accused of receiving more than 18 million barrels of oil in his name or the name of a Jordanian associate, Fawaz Abdullah Zureikat.
And those are just the small fry. Also punting down the 'many streams' were respectable statesmen like Vladimir Zhirinovsky of Russia, and Charles Pasqua, a former French interior minister. Some very large corporations, among them DaimlerChrysler and Volvo paid sums of money for contracts with the former regime in Iraq. Who could have known?