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Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist,
author and a popular speaker. Born into a military
family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East
Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces
service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation
from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both
the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive
for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work,
at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is
based in large part on his extensive experience in
Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman.
[go to Cucullu index]
The UN is a failed institution...
[Gordon Cucullu] 6/22/04
United Nations may indeed be the answer, as some like John Kerry
insist it is. But only if the question
is ‘what is the most morally corrupt international organization
in the world?’ Without argument the UN has degenerated
into what esteemed journalist Claudia Rosett refers to as an
institution mired in corruption, secrecy, venality and total
lack of accountability.
That degree of ethical collapse might still be repairable, but
only if the UN admits its errors. To date there are no signs
of institutional remorse. In fact, the organization flouts its
criminal actions in the face of the world, then wraps itself
in sanctimonious platitudes in order to retain power. Given such
an attitude there are few options left to the US other than to
demand complete, top down reform of the UN.
disconnected the UN is from reality, Rosett notes that in a
recent UN survey Secretary General Kofi Anan
frets over ‘tone at the top,’ a reference to the ‘less
positive’ opinion most UN staffers have of their senior
leaders. The problem isn’t tone, she continues, but ‘accountability
at the top’ (emphasis added). In detailed testimony provided
to the US House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats
and International Relations, Rosett elaborated at length the
incredible web of corruption that defined and obscured the UN
Oil for Food Program.
Oil for Food was in
theory a program whereby Saddam Hussein’s
Iraq, though under international UN embargo, could sell limited
amounts of oil and in return use the funds generated to purchase
needed commodities such as food, medical supplies and the like
for its population. It was established and running by December
1996 and continued under UN supervision until US and Coalition
forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
As part of the search
to find WMD, links to terrorist organizations and other violations
by the Saddam regime, extensive files were
discovered that catalogued the Oil for Food Program from the
Iraqi Baathist regime’s point of view. For them it was
merely another exercise in payoffs, bribes, intimidation, blackmail
and threat. Saddam used Oil for Food as a way to circumvent economic
sanctions, bring in prodigious amounts of money and lavish that
money on himself and his cronies.
Along the way Saddam
made certain that the right UN and complicit government pockets
were well lined. For example, Kojo Anan, the
Secretary-General’s son was in on the take as were government
officials from Russia, China and France (surprise!). The UN administrator
of the Oil for Fraud program, Benon Savan, reported directly
to Kofi Anan and no one else. Even at this late date accounting
and secrecy at the UN is so guarded that it cannot even officially
verify the actual amount of money that went into the program.
Anan’s figures are $111 billion, but that could easily
Tragically but hardly surprisingly, little if any relief was
afforded the Iraqi people as a result of Oil for Food. Infant
mortality rates soared. People lived in squalor and disease without
even basics such as potable water and sufficient electric power.
Infrastructure decayed. Hospitals had no medicines and test equipment.
Education spiraled downward. A potentially developed, sophisticated
society was allowed to sink deeper and deeper into poverty, disease,
terror and death while a corrupt dictator was propped up. Saddam
Hussein was a tyrant who strutted in palaces of gold and jewels
while his people starved. Make no mistake; the UN was an accomplice
to gross fraud with all its consequences. UN officials responsible
for the Oil for Food program have the blood of tens of thousands
of Iraqis on their hands.
Who in the UN? According
to most observers the degree, scope and depth of corruption
in the Oil for Food program is so extensive
and pervasive that it is difficult to grasp. Rosett says that ‘had
the UN deliberately set out to design a program opened to manipulation
by Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is hard to think how the
UN could have improved upon the arrangement that was put in place.’ In
other words, this was no accident: the UN from the onset envisioned
the Oil for Food program as a get-rich-quick program.
Okay, you might think,
so the UN skimmed a bit off the top. Is that such a big deal?
Well, yes, actually it was. So big that
this scam has been characterized as involving ‘staggering
levels of corruption.’ The rake off alone was estimated
at more than $10 billion in bribes, kickbacks and other payoffs
to individuals and to governments. Anan’s Secretariat office
alone collected more than $1.4 billion over the life of the program
supposedly to monitor, audit and administer it, yet due to a
UN policy of extreme secrecy there are no public records of the
It was not until Coalition forces cracked open the extraordinarily
thorough files kept by Iraqi intelligence offices that the entire
putrid deal was exposed to light. Names from the UN, France,
Russia and China immediately were discovered. Again, the numbers
were in the billions and billions of dollars. For economic basket
cases like France and Russia, with a long history of corruption,
Oil for Food must have been the golden goose in the desert.
Now the motivation for the intense lobbying to prevent US and
coalition enforcement of UN resolutions becomes clearer. All
those Ministerial-level trips to Baghdad to assure Saddam that
they would never permit the US to topple him are explained. Forget
about human rights or international law. None of these leaders
lose sleep over them. This was strictly a show-me-the-money deal.
And much of the world fell for it then and falls for it now.
Shame on them and more shame on those who choose to ignore UN
The fraud represented
in the Oil for Food program, encouraged and virtually administered
by the UN, guaranteed that Saddam’s
rape rooms, torture chambers and mass graves would stay open
for business. It gave him funds to continue to procure missile
technology from North Korea, pursue WMD research and development
programs, and funnel money to his own thugs and terrorist groups
like Ansar al-Islam, Islamic Jihad and suicide bombers. In short,
the UN kept in power the very dictator they professed to condemn
in the Security Council chambers.
It has been frequently
noted that the worst evil happens when good people perceive
evil and are complacent about it. Right
now we are at that point. We have been exposed to a metastasizing
decay in the UN for decades yet continue to wax rhapsodically
about the glorious nature of the institution. The harsh truth
is that any institution composed in majority by authoritarian,
dictatorial governments – as the UN is – cannot be
better than its parts. The UN, like its predecessor the League
of Nations is an idealistic concept but a dysfunctional reality.
The leopard does not change its spots by changing its environment.
Place it in a cathedral and it is still a predator. Neither do
thugs and crooks from dictatorial nations reform simply by crossing
over the threshold of the United Nations building. They are still
dangerous characters who have no moral authority to lecture anyone.
The UN, far from promoting
world peace and safeguarding human rights, has sunk to the
level of accomplice if not perpetrator.
Oil for Food is the tip of the iceberg, not the entirety. Virtually
every so-called ‘peace keeping’ mission has turned
sour because of ineptitude, cowardice and corruption. The UN
record for human rights protection evaporated in such hell holes
as Rwanda and the Balkans. The record of failure is long and
The solution is first to recognize that the UN is a failed institution.
Instead of American politicians talking about subverting US sovereignty
in defense, military and economic matters to this pit of corruption,
they ought to be demanding accountability on behalf of our citizens
and taxpayers. The most effective way to do convince people of
UN failure is through investigation, disclosure and transparency.
Once the shocking truth is revealed, the UN is unlikely to be
able to continue to operate in its present form.
The time is long overdue to draw up an international organization
whose membership is predicated on existence of a representative
government. Bad apples like France would still be members but
would not be able to dominate. An institution of democracies
would have infinitely greater moral credibility and fortitude
than the money and power hungry collection of reprobates that
now inhabits the buildings on Turtle Bay. CRO
Gordon Cucullu 2004