Oil for Food Facts

If you haven’t checked out the Oil-for-Food Facts site recently, there’s lots of new material posted, including a link to this Philadelphia Daily News letter:

Letters | What Rosett left out

WHILE disparaging the U.N., Secretary-General Kofi Annan and reform efforts initiated by him, Claudia Rosett (op-ed, May 3, “Just some more stale Kofi”) focuses primarily on corruption in the Oil-for-Food relief program.

From 1996 until 2003, the Oil-for-Food Program let the Iraqi government sell oil to pay for food, infrastructure, medicine and humanitarian goods. It addressed the humanitarian impact of the sanctions on the Hussein regime while maintaining the sanctions to keep Saddam from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It was successful in both respects.

Despite U.S. allegations, weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq; the caloric intake of Iraqis increased 83 percent during that period; malnutrition rates in 2002 in the central and southern part of the country were half those in 1996 among children under 5; in the three northern governorates, chronic malnutrition decreased 56 percent. The program also contributed to vaccination campaigns that helped reduce child mortality and eradicated polio.

Ms. Rosett fails to point out that most of the money pocketed by Saddam through illegal oil sales came through smuggling outside the framework of the program. Nor does she acknowledge that the U.N. raised concerns about potential wrongdoing on multiple occasions. Also missing is the fact that the U.S. was aware of the corruption taking place by Security Council members China, Russia and France, and to a lesser extent by U.S. companies, and chose to look the other way.

Nor is selective silence unique to this program. In the last few days, the White House has declined to comment as an uprising against the repressive government of President Karimov of Uzbekistan turned fatal as government forces fired on its citizens, killing at least 500.

Similarly, it is withholding support to the people of Kazakhstan against the corrupt regime of President Nazarbayev. The U.S. has military alliances with both of these countries.

Norma VanDyke, President
United Nations Association
Greater Philadelphia Chapter