Saturday, February 28, 2004

Oil for political support

The New York Times posted a story today on their website about the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq. In a nutshell, the article details Saddam's successful cooption of the program through bribing UN officials. The money that was supposed to go to buying food and medicine for ordinary Iraqis was largely diverted.

The really interesting part, of course, is how and and where Saddam spent the money. Most of this is not surprising. So he built pleasure palaces and love shacks for himself and his sons. So lots of his relatives and cronies ended up with extra money in their pockets. So plenty of Iraqis ended up being brutalized by his secret police in an extensive network of prisons and torture chambers. Unremarkable, given what we know about the man.

What is continually remarkable to me is how much was spent "to gain political support" and how successful that venture was. The Times talks about this in vague terms, but I think we can be more specific. We know now that some of that money went to dirty UN bureaucrats. We also know that some of the money went to dirty politicians throughout the world, including Western Europe. I am now waiting for the day when it will be revealed that some of the money went to the organizers of the so-called "peace movement."

Look, obviously there were millions of people around the world who opposed the American invasion of Iraq, and it would be extremely foolish to think that Saddam paid them all off. But demonstrations are not spontaneous expressions of mass opinion. They are organized, planned, and led by professionals or they do not happen. George Galloway was bought. What about ANSWER?

So I've been thinking about doing this blog for a year now, and so far, no blog. No time like the present, I guess. But I really ought to be finishing that dumb paper I told Petersen I would give him two weeks ago. So I am going to write one thing and then be done blogging for today. --HOUSE OF PAYNE