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Thursday, October 27, 2005
Oil-for-Food: A Scandal or a Policy?

The Christian Science Monitor today releases the names of the companies implicated in the oil-for-food scandal. Paul Vocker, former Federal Reserve chair, released the report to the public.In light of the massive humanitarian crisis of the Iraqi sanctions, and the ensuing responsibility for the deaths it caused, the Security Council introduced "the oil-for-food program [as] one of the largest humanitarian efforts of all time, in terms of its scope and finances." The article continues: "Launched as a means of softening the blow of UN sanctions on ordinary Iraqis, it allowed Iraq to sell quantities of oil, provided most of the money was used to buy goods for Iraq's hard-pressed citizens."

Dirk Salomons, director of the program for humanitarian affairs at Columbia University, correctly and importantly adds: "Whatever the program's faults, its successes should also be remembered. The UN kept large chunks of the Iraqi population alive for over a decade."

The Monitor reports: "The accused represent virtually every nation that took part. Companies and individuals from 66 countries sent illegal kickbacks to Hussein's government, according to the Volcker inquiry. Those who simply paid an illegally high price for their oil to begin with came from 40 countries.

Among the firms named by the report are Volvo Construction Equipment, which allegedly paid $317,000 in extra fees to the Iraqi government on a $6.4 million contract. DaimlerChrysler tacked an extra $7,000 onto a $70,000 contract, according to the Volcker inquiry."

The amount collected by Hussein totaled 1.8 billion tax on the $64 billion program, which ran from 1996 to 2003. Is it really a scandal if everyone was involved? Wouldn't that it more of a policy?