The Prince of Darkness Speaks the Truth Re: UN, Iraq, Oil

|

Forget all those driverless cars crashing on streets all over the place. The real sign that these are the end times is that columnist Robert Novak, the self-described "prince of darkness" (well, I've heard him call himself that), has an excellent col about the Senate's inquiry into one of the most outrageous and nauseating scandals of late: the United Nations' utterly corrupt Iraqi oil-for-food program:

The scandal is not complicated. Money from Iraqi oil sales permitted by the Saddam Hussein regime under U.N. auspices, supposedly to provide food for Iraqis, was siphoned off to middlemen. Billions intended to purchase food wound up in Saddam's hands for the purpose of buying conventional weapons. The complicity of U.N. member states France and Russia is pointed to by the Senate investigation. The web of corruption deepened when it was revealed that Annan's son, Kojo, was on the payroll of a contractor in the oil-for-food program….

[Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm] Coleman [head of the Senate investigation] is not pursuing a right-wing vendetta against the world organization. He was a born and bred liberal Democrat from Brooklyn before the claustrophobic liberalism of Minnesota's Democratic Farmer Labor Party compelled him to become a Republican in 1996 as the elected Democratic mayor of St. Paul. He had no anti-U.N. mind-set when he embarked on his investigation.

Coleman has been joined in rare bipartisan cooperation by the subcommittee's fiercely liberal ranking Democrat, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. Coleman sent Levin a draft of a tough letter to Annan, and Levin signed it. The bipartisan letter demanded access to U.N. internal audits and key U.N. personnel. It also accused the Volcker committee of "affirmatively preventing the subcommittee" from investigating the scandal. A major point of dispute is the U.N.'s flat refusal to permit Lloyd's Register, hired by the U.N. to inspect Iraq's oil-for-food transactions, to provide any documents to the Senate.

The full Novak monty is here.

The latest congressional figures suggest that some $21 billion was illegally skimmed from the program. More here.

It seems like only yesterday that the UN was simply a pathetically ineffective international body, rather than one of the great perpetrators of such heinous crimes.

NEXT: O Where O Where Are the Moderate Republicans?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If there really were such a thing as honor among thieves, then the 21 billion, assuming it could be recovered, should go straight into the Social Security “lock box.”

  2. A major point of dispute is the U.N.’s flat refusal to permit Lloyd’s Register, hired by the U.N. to inspect Iraq’s oil-for-food transactions, to provide any documents to the Senate.

    Is there any suggestion that Lloyd’s Register is somehow fibbing in its assessment?

    Does the U.N. have some duty to turn over those records, especially when another investigation is underway (the Volker investigation)?

    Zhirinovsky and other foreign officials and political figures implicated in the scandal so far – mostly from Russia, France and China – deny any wrongdoing.

    Let’s note that he omits the fact that Americans and Britons are also “implicated,” but that being “implicated” means very little (as the famous footnote in the Dalfour report concedes).

    I’m still trying to figure out whether this is a massive “fishing expedition” with a slim scandal attached to it or whether the grander claims have merit. Up to this point the claims have remained so vague as to point me into the former as opposed to the latter direction.

  3. Seems like peanuts to what Cheney and Bush have stolen from ordinary Americans.
    And remember, the UN doesn’t get to keep the loot. Halliburton does.
    Shoot yourselves in the foot, dingoes.

  4. Nick Gillespie,

    BTW, why does he call himself the “prince of darkness?” Because he thinks that he is onto super-secret stuff? Nothing in the Novak article is “new” news; its retreaded stuff I’ve been hearing about for almost a year now. For an investigation at this stage of the game you would think that they would have released some sort of progress report like 9/11 Commission did. Indeed, if there is one, I would like to see it.

  5. I always thought Novak was called “The Prince of Darkness” because when he goes on CNN programs he manages to offend everyone with his old-fashioned right-wing politcs, which are, as I recall, support of unfettered capitalism and virulent isolationism, leading to the other commentators ganging up on him.

  6. Jason,

    “For an investigation at this stage of the game you would think that they would have released some sort of progress report like 9/11 Commission did”

    You don’t understand the game. The game is to make accusations loudly and repeatedly until they stick without ever having to show any evidence. That is the Bush Doctrine.

    I don’t know whether these charges are true or not, but without providing any evidence despite all the documents the US ceazed from Iraq’s Oil Ministry makes me suspicious.

  7. No doubt Matt Welch will argue that this investigation will simply lead to yet more anti-Americanism.

    https://www.reason.com/links/links111504.shtml

    Will those clueless Republicans who demand some form of accountability of the UN ever realize that thier criticism of this institution is going to cause other countries to elect anti-american governments and worsen America’s military manpower shortage? Better to just let Kofi Annan and his friends keep the money.

  8. It seems like only yesterday that the UN was simply a pathetically ineffective international body, rather than one of the great perpetrators of such heinous crimes.

    Clue me in, Nick – why can’t it be both?

  9. i think this is a bit silly, to take novak wholly at his word.

    i think he’s telling the truth when he implies that the un is on trial for its life. but *why* has little to do with oil-for-food.

    there’s no doubt that the un scandal is scandalous. but so what? it’s far from the only such example — the united states could have run this investigation on any of a number of prior pretexts (although this one is, involving an american war, perhaps least questionable by american citizens). what the un embezzles is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillion or so that goes missing at the pentagon. it’s couch change. for this we kill the un?

    the point is that scandal has nothing to do with the raison d’etre of this investigation. it’s instead a political expedient to allow the bush administration to manifest two related ends.

    first, it is part of the neocon ideological narrative of america as prometheus unbound. the un must die because it limits us — and limitation is an absolute evil to the ideologues of individualism. ideology has been an extremely important part of how the neocons have functioned, and it continues to be so.

    second, and more pragmatically, it is punishment for france for behaving like something other than an obedient protectorate. destroy the security council, and chirac and the parisians have their comeuppance.

  10. gaius marius: Has anyone told Senator Levin that he’s now a member of the neo-con cabal?

    “the un must die because it limits us — and limitation is an absolute evil to the ideologues of individualism.”

    The other side of that coin is equally repugnant.

    (France, Russia, Germany, China)
    “the un must survive because it helps us — and assisting our foreign policy goals is the absolute divinity to the ideology of catching up.”

    Trail and error is one way in which man has learned to better himself. The oil for food program has been argued as one success on the part of the UN. The Iraq sanctions were another. But in light of further information we can learn better techniques to apply to contain dictators that attempt to color outside the lines.

    But if you are like me then you are thrilled that Kofi Annan appointed the eminence of transparency – former chairmen of Central Banks. Hooray for disclosure!

  11. The other side of that coin is equally repugnant.

    i would argue that there is no coin — and that there is instead a spectrum, mr stout, that we used to be closer to the middle of.

    But in light of further information we can learn better techniques to apply to contain dictators that attempt to color outside the lines.

    the problem i see is that no alternative to the un is being planned (short of shorthanded invasion and forced conversion). the un is a vehicle for installing temporary substitute institutions in places that need them. whatever its faults, it can and does do this better than any other such vehicle in existence.

    so what vehicle have we proposed to assume those duties? the american army?

    let us not pretend that killing the un is all splendor and roses. many failing states would fail without it. would that eventuality help or hurt our “war on terrorism”?

  12. Nice – the UN is involved in trying to cover up a massive diversion of funds that resulted in (a) the impoverishment of millions, and likely the death of thousands (b) the enrichment of a psychotic dictator and his party (not to mention various UN toadies) and (c) the funding of wordlwide terrorist organizations.

    Surely none of these three points are seriously in doubt – the current investigation is merely to find the edges and depth of the scandal. And what do the supposed paladins of limited government commenting at Reason have to say? (I paraphrase, but I am sure said paladins will recognize themselves):

    I’m not convinced anyone did anything wrong.

    The evil Chimpler and his neocon masters have done worse, so who cares.

    This is what the UN has always done, so who cares.

    This is all an evil Jewocon plot to bring down the UN.

    Holding the UN accountable would result in the failure of psychotic dictatorial regimes around the world, and therefor we shouldn’t do it (or something like that).

    Pathetic.

  13. for this we kill the un?

    No, we kill the U.N. for being ineffective, and not collectively having the scrotum to at least toe the line drawn by the language of their own statements. They had no intention of bring any kind of “serious consequences” to Iraq’s doorstep. What good are they?

    The oil for food program has been argued as one success on the part of the UN. The Iraq sanctions were another.

    Who besides European politicians would argue these were successes? The former enriched Hussein and put rotting food on Iraqi tables, the latter destroyed the infrastructure and morale of the entire country. Way to go.

    But in light of further information we can learn better techniques to apply to contain dictators that attempt to color outside the lines.

    The evidence would seem to indicate that what was missing most from this “effort” was the will to contain the dictator at all. Perhaps instead of coming up with more “clever” systems we should investigate whether there was ever a desire to end the Iraq conflict, and whether the system itself was built to profit from the popular perception of peace as a perceived absence of conflict.

  14. R.C. Dean,

    It would be nice if you had substantiated your “paraphrasing” with actual quotations. Ever the fabulist you are. Pathetic.

  15. R.C. Dean,

    What’s especially pathetic on your part is your attempt to troll this blog with language like “Jewcon.”

  16. Jason,

    I didn’t need quotations, because they were immediately above his post, in a (so-far) short comments thread.

    The eagerness to defend what is quite possibly the most corrupt bureaucracy in the modern world is startling to me. Frankly, I can think of no better outcome than the complete dissolution of the UN.

  17. I like the way the UN-bashers (RC, isuldur, and rst) openly admit that this scandal is ginned up to achieve a pre-determined end. The UN is baaaaaaddddd, and this is just a convenient pretext to harm it.

    This is the closest thing to honesty I’ve yet seen from a group of neoconservatives.

  18. Heh! That shitty little Novak-Guy is not the Prince Of Darkness!!! He doesn’t even come close!

    I AM THE F*CKING PRINCE OF DARKNESS!!!!
    EXCLUSIVE! WITHOUT! ANY! DOUBT!

    That little man Novak is the baron of darkness at best, or rather the knight of the dawn.

  19. I didn’t admit anything of the sort. You’ve certainly read a lot into what was nothing more than my assessment of the comments to this thread.

    But, independent of the oil-for-food thing, about which I have done too little research to really hold a solid opinion…

    … yes, the UN is bad. And the best possible outcome is its dissolution. Not the best possible outcome of this scandal, mind you; the best outcome in general.

    Slinging ‘neocon’ around like an insult is entertaining, though. Is that liberal code for ‘anyone I don’t agree with’? If so, then yes, I am one. If it’s supposed to have *substance* and indicate an *ideology*, then no, I don’t think I am.

    Not that it particularly matters to your paranoiac view of the world. Continue to believe you are on the battlements defending our great nation from an endless horde of Jonah Goldberg clones. Me, I’m going to drink my coffee and go to work.

  20. isildur,

    I need quotations. I dunno, little things like reality are important to me. 🙂

    Who is exactly “defending” the U.N. here?

    If you can’t actually point to someone’s actual language, then I am going to be highly skeptical of your claims.

  21. isildur,

    You’ve certainly read a lot into what was nothing more than my assessment of the comments to this thread.

    Pots and kettles.

    But, independent of the oil-for-food thing, about which I have done too little research to really hold a solid opinion…

    Now that’s a flip-flop. You adopte R.C. Dean’s pathetically silly statements, and now your dumping them? Ha ha ha. 🙂

    … yes, the UN is bad. And the best possible outcome is its dissolution. Not the best possible outcome of this scandal, mind you; the best outcome in general.

    It isn’t going to happen; indeed, even if it did, likely some other organization would spring up in its place. However, the U.N. surely needs to be significantly reformed.

    Slinging ‘neocon’ around like an insult is entertaining, though.

    Its not an insult; it is a term used to label a particular ideology. If you want an adequate definition of the term see Gilles Kepel’s new book Jihad (which I think is in print in English now).

    Is that liberal code for ‘anyone I don’t agree with’?

    Since non-liberals use it, that would be no.

  22. gaius marius,

    How about we end the UN for being ineffective and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Rwanda around 800,000 dead the UN turned in their usual excellent (non)performance while genocide was committed. Genocide is ongoing in the Sudan and the UN has managed to pass a resolution saying this is not good. And they also appointed Sudan (the country committing the genocide) to sit on the UN human rights council.

    The progressive idiots that continue to blindly support the UN with no effort to demand it actually help human rights have killed and will continue to kill more people then George Bush has.

  23. TJIT, resolutions to send troops to stop the Rwandan genocide were blocked by…

    …wait for it…

    the United States, after immense pressure was put on the Clinton administration by the Republican Congress.

  24. TJIT,

    Actually, that would be the UNSC, including the U.S., France and the U.K. People tend to forget that the U.N. is powerless to act without the nation-states that compromise it giving it the nod and resources. The same is also true for the Sudan; the member states of the UNSC, including the U.S., have showed really no desire to get too involved there (probably for good fucking reasons).

    When you try to divorce the U.N. from the members states that make it up and act like the U.N. has some power independent of those member states you are presenting a falsity. And just to hold off isildur making something up, this is not an argument for expanding the power of the U.N., it is an argument for recognizing the limitations of the U.N., limitations that would likely be the fate of any like organization.

  25. joe,

    Yeah, TJIT’s history from an alternate universe is slightly troubling, as is yours.

    France, the UK and the US all equally worked to shut down any effort to stop the genocide.

  26. This is all an evil Jewocon plot to bring down the UN.

    mr dean, you are not worth the scant attention you receive here.

  27. What good are they?

    mr rst, i would submit that, as global law enforcement goes, they are predictably ineffectual.

    but that is not all the un does. as i noted, their primary beneficial function is as a supplier of transitory western institutions in parts of the world that are failing without them.

    removing that function without any proposal of replacement ensures, imo, more failed states.

    how does that support the “war on terrorism”? it doesn’t, of course — it encourages terrorist havens to develop.

    so why does the bush administration desire to kill the un? for the reasons i articulated above — neocon ideology and a corporal slap at europe.

    and one wonders why they fucked the football in iraq.

  28. This is the closest thing to honesty I’ve yet seen from a group of neoconservatives.

    Not a neo-con, but thanks for playing. News flash: more than just neo-cons supported the war in Iraq and didn’t vote for Kerry.

    I like the way the UN-bashers (RC, isuldur, and rst) openly admit that this scandal is ginned up to achieve a pre-determined end.

    Ostensibly joe any kind of movement which a person would engage has a pre-determined end. Some of us have opposed the pervasion of the U.N. as a consequential “government” body for a long time. This is why.

    This is not a pre-text, joe. This is an example of why as a group the U.N. should not be trusted, and thus not empowered.

  29. rst,

    As a group? You mean the nation-states that make up the U.N. presumably.

  30. The progressive idiots that continue to blindly support the UN with no effort to demand it actually help human rights have killed and will continue to kill more people then George Bush has.

    mr tjit, i find your “history” a bit too reductive and ideologically directed to be useful, but i concede that — as global law enforcement — the un will ne’er be better than they were, nor should we expect them to be. i personally don’t want a global cop to be made of the un (or the united states, thank you very much president bush).

    but that is not what the un is valuable for.

  31. The progressive idiots

    and i might note, sir, that i am not a progressive.

  32. Jason,

    Yeah, those bodies floating down the rivers were definitely from an alternate universe.

    Explain to me why the UN should continue to exist if it can’t even stop genocide????

  33. JB – Better stated, “as a body.” The U.N. should keep to its only practical duty – bringing food and medicine to little third world villages. Let member states determine for themselves how to operate and deal with other states, as opposed to using the assumed credibility of a “global” body to perpetrate fraud, support a dictator, and crank up a certain currency against the dollar.

    A lot of lefties blast Iraq as an oil war. If so, was it better to starve an entire population for oil profits?

  34. The quick devolution of argument on this thread suggests that the idea of a UN is essential to many individuals’ identity.

    Why is a confederation of the globe so important? Is there any humanitarian goal it might achieve which is otherwise unattainable by any of the big nations acting independently? The goal of eliminating war will be impossible until all independent political societies surrender their sovereignty to a global society, which would require global agreement on political, economic, and probably moral systems.

    As I write, it struck me that such global control is the secret plan lefties accuse neocons of holding. But the lefties want global control too, just in a different flavor.

    Everyone but the anarchists is scheming to Rule the World.

    ps– I thought Jewocon was funny. I’m gonna use it.

  35. can’t even stop genocide

    because that’s sooo easy….

    mr tjit, mr bourne’s point stands — the un is always powerless if some of its primary western constituents oppose an action. when the united states, britain and france all oppose getting involved in rwanda, the un can do nothing.

    but, again, this sort of police action is NOT what the un is good for. it is, however, a decent vehicle to supply temporary institutions to places which need them as a bulwark against the kind of failed states that bush administration ostensibly opposes.

  36. Mitch, and anyone else who cares at this point:

    The “prince of darkness” nickname dates back at least to the 70s, as it was mentioned in Timothy Crouse’s book about the press corps in the 1972 presidential campaign, The Boys on the Bus. I don’t remember who came up with the nickname, though.

  37. The goal of eliminating war will be impossible until all independent political societies surrender their sovereignty to a global society, which would require global agreement on political, economic, and probably moral systems.

    mr dynamist, i don’t doubt that some people really do envision this. they are idiots, imo.

    but the ridiculousness of their idealism does not nullify the pragmatic benefits of the un! i deeply dislike utopianism — but i can see what the un does is valuable to protecting ourselves.

    why will so few here address the un as it is, instead of regurgitating the simplified propaganda iconography they hold dear? or is it that so many of you have become so reductive and partisan that you cannot allow yourself to see such a thing as both bad and good — in short, as complex?

  38. and crank up a certain currency against the dollar.

    lol — mr rst, i fear to think what bit of conspiracy you might believe is afoot at the un.

    the dollar is our fault and ours alone. and it will fall a LOT farther before it’s done.

    Let member states determine for themselves how to operate and deal with other states

    but more to the point, the un also functions effectively as a dispute mediator — not necessaarily problem solver, but dispute mediator. having a court of world opinion is helpful because it can produce moderation — not always, but sometimes.

    how quickly we forget the devastation wrought by the balance-of-powers solution!

  39. If I were jewish I think I’d be plotting the means to end the rule of the United Nations in mediating international affairs.

    Sort of like the Albanians and Kosovars have been trying to do since the end of NATO bombing in the Balkans.

  40. I realize it’s difficult for most people to look ahead and to make parallels, but if you want to look into the Law of the Sea Treaty. Bush and the Navy support that, but it looks like it could become a more legitimate version of OFF.

  41. the un must die because it limits us

    What a silly thing to say. How does the UN limit us? It can’t do much of anything without our permission, and we don’t need its permission to do anything at all. There is nothing that the United States wanted to do that we have ever refrained from doing because the United Nations said “no”.

    The major problem with the United Nations, from an American perspective, is that funding it is a waste of our money. It provides no benefit to us.

  42. lol — mr rst, i fear to think what bit of conspiracy you might believe is afoot at the un.

    In 2000/2001 Hussein switched the currency for the oil-for-food program from U.S. dollars (the generally accepted currency of international transactions) to euros. The euro posted 25% gains on the dollar a year later.

    That’s one tasty reacharound.

    having a court of world opinion is helpful because it can produce moderation — not always, but sometimes.

    They’re not a court, and there is no international law that has any power beyond political leverage. They’re a collection of diplomats, in positions that are largely attained by being related to or sleeping with someone important. If they want to opine, let them opine. Nothing about their opinions or statements however should ever be considered binding.

  43. People tend to forget that the U.N. is powerless to act without the nation-states that compromise it giving it the nod and resources.

    JB,

    This is so far, without a doubt, the BEST argument I’ve heard for killing the UN.

    Thanks dude, and welcome to the Dark Side.

  44. gaius marius: Mediation is something the UN could do that a big nation alone could not. Anybody with a decent army can installing temporary governments, but it takes another army to ensure those installations remain temporary. If I accept the UN as a provider of temporary bureacracy, that’s two missions for the organization. Maybe some other departments could be spun off into separate international organizations. So, rather than kill the UN, shrink it to do only what it can do well.

  45. TJIT,

    The U.N. can’t stop genocide because the nation-states of the world don’t want to stop genocide. Again, blaming this on the U.N. elides past the real issue at hand, namely that genocide is not an important enough issue for most nation-states to get involved in, and even when they do, genocide is at best a collateral issue.

    Mike H.,

    I would not be bothered by the demise of the U.N. (though I suspect that another body would rise in its place – merely because such a world body does provide some benefits*). However, it is not going to go away (at least anytime soon), EVEN IF the U.S. withdrew from it. Since that is the case its better for the U.S. to remain a part of a U.N. so a means to check efforts that might be detrimental to the U.S.

    * Benefits: international contract law has been aided by the conferences/meetings it has sponsored, as well other areas international commerce (such as creating standardized rules for letters of credit, etc.).

  46. rst,

    Are you suggesting that the performance of the Euro was predicated on the acts of Hussein? If that’s the case, one wonders why the Euro has continued to perform similarly with the downfall of Hussein’s regime? And one wonders how the trickle of oil that left his country could have created this performance in comparison to the far more robust production coming out of the Gulf Arab states?

  47. In 2000/2001 Hussein switched the currency for the oil-for-food program from U.S. dollars (the generally accepted currency of international transactions) to euros. The euro posted 25% gains on the dollar a year later.

    you cannot be serious, mr rst, in implying a causal relationship there? i’m fairly sure you aren’t, but you might clarify. if you are, i can name some 16-year-olds with better understanding of forex than you are demonstrating.

  48. Are you suggesting that the performance of the Euro was predicated on the acts of Hussein?

    I haven’t the figures to prove that, so no. I can safely say without data however that it helped. Mostly I’m saying that the move was a thank you from Hussein to Europe which along with other factors strengthened the euro against the dollar. What I’m suggesting is that it was also a component in Europe’s opposition to the resumption of hostilities in Iraq.

    If that’s the case, one wonders why the Euro has continued to perform similarly with the downfall of Hussein’s regime?

    That there appears to be no correlation on this side of the slope does not mean there is no correlation on the other side. The end of the oil-for-food program is too large a factor to disregard.

    And one wonders how the trickle of oil that left his country could have created this performance in comparison to the far more robust production coming out of the Gulf Arab states?

    They deal in dollars, and currency gains are not about volume, they’re about your ability to create value with your currency. Kickbacks apparently arose from substandard goods being substituted for quality goods; the quality goods price was paid and the difference kicked back to Hussein. This probably made it look like that money bought quality goods *and* Chinese missile guidance systems. Do that a few thousand times.

    Just a theory, of course. I’m not a finance weenie.

  49. How does the UN limit us? It can’t do much of anything without our permission, and we don’t need its permission to do anything at all.

    mr dan, i will be the last person to defend the neocon ideology as pragmatic. it isn’t. it is ideology — and what the un symbolizes in the promethean narrative that neocons espouse is a chain. so away it must go.

    defying the un does have tangible costs, however, as matt welch noted the other day. perhaps it is these costs that neocons unrealistically hope to destroy in destroying the un. of course, that would be misguided — but ideologues often are.

  50. I would not be bothered by the demise of the U.N. (though I suspect that another body would rise in its place – merely because such a world body does provide some benefits*). However, it is not going to go away (at least anytime soon), EVEN IF the U.S. withdrew from it. Since that is the case its better for the U.S. to remain a part of a U.N. so a means to check efforts that might be detrimental to the U.S.

    Yeah, me neither. IMHO, the UN is worse than useless.

    I agree that the UN does provide a rather feeble amount of creamy goodness (WHO, etc.), but I don’t believe that outweighs the genuine harm it does.

    As far as the US withdrawing from the UN, I think that’d be the straw that might just break that bastard of a camel’s back. I can’t imagine how it’d survive without US funding, participation and (when they choose so) military muscle.

  51. rst,

    I haven’t the figures to prove that, so no.

    I think I can now safely treat your comments as silly conjecture likely prejudiced and based upon mindless anti-European animus.

  52. you cannot be serious, mr rst, in implying a causal relationship there?

    No, not at this point. But did it hurt, you think?

  53. I think I can now safely treat your comments as silly conjecture likely prejudiced and based upon mindless anti-European animus.

    Why, because I don’t have a balance sheet in front of me? Or because I dared accuse the enlightened Europeans of being cut from the same cloth as greedy oil tycoons and Evil Republican Illuminati?

  54. The major problem with the United Nations, from an American perspective, is that funding it is a waste of our money. It provides no benefit to us.

    the amount of money we give to the un each year is exceeded by what gets “lost” at the pentagon every few days. this cannot be an argument, given that — we give a trifle. we certainly don’t demand accountability and cleanliness from the executive of our own nation; why would we expect virtue at the un?

    and i would further say, mr dan, that this ignores the costs and benefits that mr welch discusses as well.

    you seem to believe that diplomacy and common kindness can have no benefit. such reductive militarism is appalling. what ever happened to simply trying to emulate christian decency?

  55. rst,

    Also, there’s one critical problem with your strange conspiracy theory: the EU hasn’t liked the performance of the Euro. So what you are suggesting is that the EU conspiratorially jacked up the Euro in an effort to do something they don’t like. *giggle*

  56. But did it hurt, you think?

    mr rst, the amount of money you’re referring to is so miniscule in forex terms that i can say catagorically it did not have any effect, beneficial or detrimental.

  57. Your statement:

    So what you are suggesting is that the EU conspiratorially jacked up the Euro in an effort to do something they don’t like.

    What I said:

    Mostly I’m saying that the move was a thank you from Hussein to Europe which along with other factors strengthened the euro against the dollar.

    From Hussein, to Europe. Not, originated in Europe and involved Hussein. Read, JB. *giggle*.

  58. rst,

    No, I expect you to demonstrate your assertions, that’s why. Wow, what a novel notion. So far you’ve not provided me with one shred of evidence and your animus (nay, call it xenophobia) towards Europe is well known on this blog.

    Mike H.,

    I can’t imagine how it’d survive without US funding, participation and (when they choose so) military muscle.

    The same way it does today. Most of the U.N.’s funding, military manpower, etc., doesn’t come for the U.S. after all.

  59. mr rst, the amount of money you’re referring to

    How much money am I referring to?

  60. Most of the U.N.’s funding, military manpower, etc., doesn’t come for the U.S. after all.

    true, mr bourne — but it does need the american imprimatur for real legitimacy, imo.

  61. rst,

    I did read and Europe’s participation in the matter is critical to your theory. What would they be “thanking” Europe for if Europe (meaning the EU) weren’t intimately involved in the matter? Are you now suggesting that the EU’s role was simply “innocent” according to your theory? That certainly wasn’t what you were saying earlier? Why the flip-flop?

  62. rst,

    You tell us how much money was involved; you are the one positing the theory after all.

  63. mr rst, you’re referring to

    the currency for the oil-for-food program

    do you need the number, or are you trying to be cute? regardless of what it is, it is dwarfed by daily trading at forex, which runs over $1.4 trillion average daily volume.

  64. rst,

    BTW, you come to us with no evidence, not a shred of proof regarding your theory, no documents, no written works on the matter, not even some basic, off the cuff financial information, and yet you expect people to treat your theory – which on its face sounds absurd – with anything other than incredulity. Why is that?

  65. a dislike of European philosophies and the bodies which put them into action.

    what are you as an american, mr rst, if not a product of european civilization?

    i cannot begin to understand how american europhobes do not feel shame at their intellectual zeroness in claiming that american society is not almost entirely derived of european civilization and ideas. truly, it is one of the most obvious manifestations of the nihilistic flight from history this dying culture is experiencing.

    that THIS, of all things, is a feature of conservatism shows just exactly how philosophically perverse and intellectually lazy americans have become.

  66. The UN is a forum, not really a body. “The UN” doesn’t do anything – the member nations carry out the initiatives. The UN is a forum in which multilateral coordination can occur. If any member nation wants to go off on its own, there is nothing the UN can do to stop them. But what make the UN useful, the reason it has been such an effective tool for American foreign policy for the past half century, is that it provides political legitimacy for the actions of the member states, when they receive a UN mandate. Anti-American governments or militias who would fire on food convoys flying an American flag allow those with a blue flag to pass much more often. Ditto with educational initiatives, all the way up to peacekeeping missions. Countries that would never allow their troops and money to be used for an American initiative allow them to serve as part of a multinational force – even if the command structure and program are exactly the same as they would be as a unilateral American initiative.

  67. you come to us with no evidence

    I didn’t come to you. We’re nobodies opining anonymously on a subject.

    expect people to treat your theory – which on its face sounds absurd – with anything other than incredulity.

    News flash: it’s called “Hit and Run”. I don’t care how you treat the theory. I don’t care whether you’re amused or apoplectic. Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one and they all stink. But why is opining that this scandal pervades Europe horribly xenophobic and unfair when it is apparently fair territory to say Bush and Halliburton conspired to slaughter people en masse to make oil more profitable? Because you have proof in forms of memoranda and e-mails? Pictures of the pillars of industry cackling and rubbing their hands together over pictures of dead Iraqi babies?

  68. what are you as an american, mr rst, if not a product of european civilization?

    European philosophies and the bodies that put them into action in no way describe the whole of European civilization.

  69. first you informed us that Europe (the EU) was part of some conspiratorial cabal with Iraq

    Please point out where this occurred. And by that, I don’t mean where you started calling a conspiracy.

    Until this time you’ve only had derisive things to say about Europe

    That’s not true. I’ve said nice things about Europe. I just don’t say them here very often.

    How pathetic. You don’t even have the balls to defend your original thesis.

    My “original thesis” was that the sanctions sucked, the U.N. sucked, and that the oil-for-food “humanitarian programme” was an utter failure. I suspect that it was designed to be an ATM machine from the beginning. I suspect that Europe profitted the most from it, and that said profits were the primary reason they opposed resumption of hostilities in Iraq. So I’m not real sure what you mean by original thesis. What, that Hussein switched to the Euro and it was mighty nice of him to do? That’s not a thesis. That’s a fact: he switched to the Euro, it then posted a large gain (I said nothing about causality), and it was a nice thing for him to do (I called it a “reacharound”). I made it very clear that my view on its causality was shaky given I had no data.

    What I felt no need to defend against were your inane attacks. I have a job, I do this at my leisure. And I certainly don’t have the time to write you an annotated thesis. If you don’t like it, argue with somebody else.

    Wow, I just fisked your entire argument.

    You ain’t fisked shit. You twisted, spun, and arrived at a conclusion all on your own.

    I think we can officially call your comments a rant now.

    That’s your lame-ass opinion.

  70. rst,

    No problem, here you are in black and white flip-flopper:

    In 2000/2001 Hussein switched the currency for the oil-for-food program from U.S. dollars (the generally accepted currency of international transactions) to euros. The euro posted 25% gains on the dollar a year later.

    That’s one tasty reacharound.

    Sorry but this directly implies an active conspiracy between the two parties; indeed, your use of the term “reacharound” drives that point home. Go lie elsewhere jackass.

    My “original thesis” was that the sanctions sucked, the U.N. sucked, and that the oil-for-food “humanitarian programme” was an utter failure.

    Now you are just obfuscating. My reference to your “original thesis” refers to your claim about the Euro and you know it (you know, what we’ve been exchanging commentary on for the past few hours). Honestly, you’d lie to your damn mother to save face it appears.

    So I’m not real sure what you mean by original thesis.

    Sure you do. You’re simply lying to get your fucking ass out of a sling.

    That’s a fact: he switched to the Euro, it then posted a large gain (I said nothing about causality), and it was a nice thing for him to do (I called it a “reacharound”).

    That’s a lie. You know that you were arguing causality; indeed, other commentators (gauis marius) mentioned the issue of causality and you never denied it. Sorry, but you’re now even more mired in your own bullshit. What a lying sack of shit you are.

    As to saying nothing about causality directly, note the following:

    My Question:

    Are you suggesting that the performance of the Euro was predicated on the acts of Hussein?

    Your Answer:

    I haven’t the figures to prove that, so no.

    In other words, you have no data to back up your original assertion.

    I can safely say without data however that it helped.

    If that isn’t a claim of causality I don’t know what is. Consider yourself fisked again.

    Mostly I’m saying that the move was a thank you from Hussein to Europe which along with other factors strengthened the euro against the dollar.

    Hmm, more causality. More fisking. Burned by your damn words.

    I suspect that it was designed to be an ATM machine from the beginning.

    Since the U.S. helped design then U.S. helped to design it as an ATM (note that the M stands for machine).

    I suspect that Europe profitted the most from it, and that said profits were the primary reason they opposed resumption of hostilities in Iraq.

    Based on what? Sticking your finger up your ass? Look, I’ve already told you that Australia had far more revenue from agricultural sales to Iraq than France did. If what you suspect were true, then exact opposite would be the reverse. I have one data point and you have none. So far you’re the loser of this contest.

    Now let’s contrast these two statements:

    That’s a fact: he switched to the Euro, it then posted a large gain(I said nothing about causality), and it was a nice thing for him to do (I called it a “reacharound”).

    I made it very clear that my view on its causality was shaky given I had no data.

    So which one of these statements is correct? Did you discuss causality or not? Can’t you even get that story straight? More fisking. 🙂

  71. Jason Bourne is channeling the spirit of Jean Bart. 🙂

  72. Dyanmist,

    Yes, I can only try to reach Jean Bart’s fisking ability; but one must have something to strive for. 🙂

  73. indeed, your use of the term “reacharound” drives that point home.

    A reacharound is a favor, not a conspiracy.

    mentioned the issue of causality and you never denied it

    When gaius mentioned causality — the first time it came up — was when I made it clear I hadn’t the figures to back that up. I have no data; I can neither deny nor confirm causality.

    I have one data point and you have none

    You have an orphaned datum with no context. The Australians are not in economic competition with the United States. The Australians do not hold an SC seat (and could have effected no change anyway). And France, Russia, and China held more than three-quarters of the oil-for-bribes contracts. Benefit consists of more than profit, fool.

    In other words, you have no data to back up your original assertion.
    Did you discuss causality or not?

    That causality was your assertion; and only you and possibly gaius assert that I believe such a thing. That is to you, JB. I am not responsible for how you read or fail to read into things.

    Keep trying.

  74. obstinacy is not a virtue, mr rst. why not simply admit that your first comment was ill-considered?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.