Can you say “Oil-For-Food, part Deux?”
I just read this at the Sydney Morning Herald. (It’s dated February 1… that always makes my brain hurt)
It seems that a recent audit of the Coalition Provisional Authority has dug up a discrepancy of $9 billion.
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) may have paid salaries for thousands of non-existent “ghost employees” in Iraqi ministries, issued unauthorised multimillion-dollar contracts, and provided little oversight of spending in possibly corrupt ministries, according to the report by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction.
“While acknowledging the extraordinarily challenging threat environment that confronted the CPA throughout its existence and the number of actions taken by CPA to improve the [interim Iraqi government’s] budgeting and financial management, we believe the CPA management of Iraq’s national budget process and oversight of Iraqi funds was burdened by severe inefficiencies and poor management,” concludes the report, which was released yesterday.
I’ll be interested to see just how much coverage this small “oversight” gets. Especially from all the people who insisted the UN couldn’t do the job in Iraq because they were so corrupt and incapable of transparency and all.
The BBC just posted a story today, err, I mean yesterday, bah, whatever.
JaneM expresses a common sentiment:
I wouldn’t rush to judgement, Chris. Bremer has some very common sense responses to these allegations and I doubt that the accounting irregularites resulted in malnutrition and starvation.
Three questions come up from this:
1) Did the UN sanctions cause malnutrition and starvation or did Saddam Hussein? I’m more inclined to lay more blame on the guy who gassed his citizens.
2) $9 billion is more than just an “accounting irregularity”. Like I said before, it took several years for Saddam to squander that much money away from his people, Bremer and Co. did it in a less than a year.
3) Malnutrition and Starvation or all out war, escalating terrorism and no basic services… again, hard to see the difference.
Jane continues with another common sentiment.
Besides, the UN ran out of Iraq after a few weeks saying it was too dangerous for them…after refusing protection from US military.
1) There is an obvious conflict of interest if the UN accepts direct aid from an occupying army especially when the military action they were involved in was condemned by the UN itself. This is also why so many NGOs have pulled out… you can’t be an impartial bringer of goodwill and help when you are perceived as being linked to the occupying army.
2) It was deemed “too dangerous” by more than just the UN. With no standing army and no support from the International community, the UN had no way of protecting itself. Again, like the numerous NGOs that have left, they did so because the security concerns required trumped their ability to help out in a meaningful way.
As far as coverage is concerned, I’ll wager that more Germans and Frenchmen will hear about Bremer’s Iraqi problems than they have or will regarding Kofi Jr’s Iraqi boondoggel.
That’s something to do further research on.
I’m willing to bet that once the new Iraqi government gets on its’ feet it will go to the UN and ask for help… and it will get it, I hope that there is a resolution put forward to send military help to Iraq to stabilise the situation. Perhaps like the Afghanistan model… provide security in the capital and major cities.
Maybe in some way this will “embarass” the US Administration to realise it’s harping on Oil-For-Food does nothing for the Iraqi people and would instead expend the necessary energy to forge a new broader coalition of support.