Saddam's U.N. scam

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

News last week that Saddam Hussein ripped off twice as much money as previously known by subverting U.N. sanctions against Iraq is more proof that the man is at heart a murderous crook -- not than any proof was needed.

The current tally is $21.3 billion in illegal revenue raised by the Iraqi government by contravening U.N. sanctions and defrauding the U.N.'s own humanitarian oil-for-food program, the intent of which was to lessen the effect of sanctions on everyday Iraqis. Congressional investigators have found that Saddam Hussein tried to buy a change in the U.N.'s sanctions policy against his country.

The Bush administration and the United Nations have been on unfriendly terms since the U.N. Security Council refused to go along with U.S. plans to invade Iraq. These revelations won't help mend the wounds.

But many leaders and countries are culpable in this shameful example of how a ruthless dictator with oil reserves can make fools of the rest of the world -- at least for awhile.

The failure of the United Nations to police its own program has renewed calls for serious self-evaluation. That evaluation should start with Kofi Annan, who may be too tainted to continue as secretary general.

In a Gallup poll taken earlier this year, 60 percent of the respondents said the United Nations is doing a poor job of solving the problems confronting it.

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