These are devastating criticisms of a body already held in low esteem by Iraqis. Yet the occupying powers have agreed that the UN should appoint the members of a transitional government that will succeed the American-nominated Iraqi Governing Council after the transfer of executive power on June 30. The world body is being given a leading role in Iraq just as the scandal over its administration of the oil-for-food programme is gathering momentum. In the run-up to June 30, five separate investigations will look into claims that 270 individuals, companies and institutions were bribed by Saddam. Two have been mounted by the American House of Representatives and one by the Senate. In addition, the Iraqi Governing Council has commissioned a report from the auditors KPMG, and Mr Annan has asked Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, to head a UN inquiry.
There are enough problems attendant on the birth of democracy in Iraq without burdening the country with an organisation that proved so inadequate in confronting the previous dictatorship, whether over oil for food or defiance of Security Council resolutions. George W Bush and Tony Blair may welcome shedding the odious status of occupiers. But they should be under no illusions that the UN will prove an adequate substitute. Given its record in the Balkans and the Middle East, their continuing faith in that body as providing a unique cloak of legitimacy is astonishing.
Russia has dropped its objection to a proposed investigation, according to the NY Times.
The story’s now being featured in the TV networks’ news.
Update on the update: WHOA!, or as Roger puts it, “Something must be going on when even the BBC puts the Oil-for-Food Scandal at the top of its website”!