'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Taking Down the UN, One Way or Another 

Jude Wanniski, former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, rightwing pundit of the paleo-conservative variety, and coiner of the term "supply-side economics", argues that the calls for Kofi Annan's head are largely the result of a neoconservative-orchestrated propaganda campaign and wonders whether any non-business-as-usual corruption in the oil-for-food program ever even took place: (from here)

[The neoconservatives'] intent all along was no secret: They wanted "regime change" to fit their plans for an American empire, with a permanent outpost in Baghdad. [ ... ] This meant demeaning the United Nations, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) inspectors of chemical and biological weapons under Hans Blix, and the International Atomic Energy Agency under Muhammad al-Baradai.

France, Germany, Russia and China had become obstacles to regime change in Baghdad, either at the UN Security Council or at Nato, or both.

To neutralise them with American public opinion, the neo-cons used their contacts in the news media to broadcast the argument that these countries were pursuing selfish interests related to Iraq's oil.

Out of this soup came the "oil-for-food scandal" which now threatens to bring down UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan and besmirch the UN and its affiliated institutions.

Annan's strategy for dealing with the emerging scandal was to appoint a reliable independent commission and wait to see what it turned up; he said, "My hope had been that once the independent investigative committee had been set up [under Volcker], we would all wait for them to do their work and then draw our conclusions and make judgments. This has not turned out to be the case."

Wanniski argues that Annan's attempt at damage control is failing largely because of neoconservative activism:

Why were Annan's hopes dashed by [Norman] Coleman, a freshman senator who chairs the permanent subcommittee on investigations [and the most prominent voice calling for Annan's resignation]?

My educated guess is that the neo-cons who continue to have serious influence on the Bush administration through Vice-President Dick Cheney's office, knew full well that if the Volcker commission did its job honestly, it would be able to report that the oil-for-food programme worked pretty much as it was designed to work.

It would have found that nothing criminal or corrupt was done and that even Saddam had done nothing any other head of state in his shoes would not have done under similar circumstances.

It is perfectly obvious that Coleman saw a chance to make a splash with assertions that corruption at the UN was already a known fact.

His "smoking gun" was the news that Kofi Annan's son received payments of $150,000 over several years from a company that was a contractor in the oil-for-food programme.

Where did this news come from? The New York Sun, a tiny newspaper founded by Canadian mogul Conrad Black four years ago as a mouthpiece for the neo-cons.

Richard Perle, the most prominent of the neo-con intellectuals who misled Bush to war with Iraq, has been a long time partner of Conrad Black and a director of the Jerusalem Post, one of Black's many media holdings.

You know, while still basking in the post-coital glow of the "Mission Accomplished" salad days, Richard Perle wrote that a positive outcome of the Iraq War was that it would "take the United Nations down with [Saddam Hussein]." The illegal invasion of Iraq was going to be so staggeringly successful that the world community would be forced to confront the moral bankruptcy of the UN for not sanctioning it under international law -- you see, Richard Perle openly admits that the Iraq War was illegal. Needless to say his prediction was wildly off the mark, and Perle may now have moved on to Plan B, as Wanniski quotes Richard Holbrooke, Clinton's ambassador to the UN, as saying, "The danger now is that a group of people who want to destroy or paralyse the UN are beginning to pick up support from some of those whose goal is to reform it."

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