Saturday, February 05, 2005

The U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Scandal (Part 2)

One of the better stories on the interim Volcker commission report on the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal appeared Friday in the New York Sun. Although appearing in the conservative newspaper, the story was balanced, lacked any ideological bias, and was tightly edited. More importanlty, the story was chock-full of details left out of larger newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The lede to reporter Benny Avni's story:

"The long-awaited Volcker Commission interim report on the oil-for-food scandal confirmed yesterday the thrust of the allegations against the United Nations official who ran the program, Benon Sevan, and raised new questions about his close contacts with relative of a former United Nations secretary-general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

"Mr. Volcker deferred until a later report questions about the current U.N. chief, Kofi Anan, whose son Kojo, has been suspected of having a role in helping a Geneva-based company to obtain a contract with the U.N.

"That left the newly disclosed connections of Mr. Boutros-Ghali's family to the scandal as the most intriguing part of the 24-page tome released yesterday by Mr. Volcker's U.N.-approved investigation team.

Lower down in the story, Avni quotes Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House international Relations Committee (and the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and Clinton impeachment manager) as saying: "I am reluctant to conclude that the U.N. is damaged beyond repair, but these revelations certainly point in this direction."

Hyde's comments underscore an undercurrent in the current congressional investigations of U.N. scandal, namely that corruption and mismanagement at the United Nations is hardly the paramount concern of many conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill as they forge ahead. Rather, Hyde and others appear to be exploiting the investigative machinery at their disposal to discredit and marginalize the U.N. Many of them would like nothing better for the U.N. disappear from the face of the Earth so that the hardliners in the Buh administration would be free to pursue whatever multilateralist foreign policy they wish.

Ironically, these efforts come as Bush himself has expressed his own second thoughts about largely going it alone in post-war Iraq and his new Secretary of State is currently in Europe attempting to repair strained relations with our allies.

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