Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Our friends on Turtle Bay

Claudia Rosett has a good piece in NRO about the trial of Tongsun Park, the South Korean businessman implicated in the Oil-for-Food scandal:

While United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has already dismissed the Oil-for-Food scandal as over and done, within the wood-paneled walls of a Manhattan courtroom it has just come to life. The opening this week of the first
federal trial linked to the U.N.’s former relief program for Iraq has transformed the distant saga of sanctions busting and stolen billions into an up-close drama, with prosecutors alleging that Saddam Hussein, in his efforts to shake off U.N. sanctions, reached via a secret “back channel” all the way from Baghdad right into Washington, New York, and the U.N. executive suite.

The defendant, South Korean businessman Tongsun Park, is charged in the Southern District of New York with acting as an unregistered agent of Saddam’s Iraq — which tried through various means, especially the manipulation of the 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program, to end the U.N. sanctions imposed after Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Park’s lawyer, Michael Kim, says the 71-year-old Park is “absolutely not guilty.”

Whatever the outcome for Park, his trial — expected to last about three weeks — looks likely to provide an unprecedented view into the workings of U.N. backroom politics. Not least, this comes as a timely warning to beware whatever might be going on today in any back channels the U.N. might have opened with nuclear-happy, sanctions-threatened, oil-rich Iran.


But at the U.N. itself, which actually ran Oil-for-Food, not a single official involved in the administration of the program, from Kofi Annan on down, has been required to come forth and tell, in public, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Top U.N. officials have declined invitations to testify at congressional
hearings and stonewalled questions from the press. They have tucked under the rug of diplomatic immunity and silence a great many loose ends left by Paul Volcker’s U.N.-authorized probe, which covered some of the material now spilling into the New York courtroom, but did all its questioning in secret and is now hiding from the public its entire archive of underlying documents. No one at Turtle Bay seems even interested that the former director of Oil-for-Food, Benon Sevan, alleged by Volcker to have taken $147,000 in payoffs on Iraqi oil deals, is protesting innocence, uncontested, receiving full U.N. pension and living on Cyprus. Watching Tongsun Park's trial begin on Tuesday, and listening to testimony that is opening one can of worms after another, I had to wonder, were the U.N. subject to a similar standard of law, what might we learn?

What might we learn? Damn good question.

It amazes me that there are people in this country that still trust the United Nations. It amazes me that there are still people who think that there is any point whatsoever in the US remaining in that rotten to the core organization.

On second thought it doesn’t amaze me. It is just part and parcel of the suicidal impulse which has infected some in the West.