Sam: [lying] No, I don’t.
Rick: You played it for her, you can play it for me!
Sam: [lying] Well, I don’t think I can remember…
Rick: If she can stand it, I can! Play it!
Kofi does his best to recall lines from Casablanca during his London interview.
To help the few who haven’t memorized Casablanca by now, I’m showing the quotes from the film in italics. Kofi’s words are indented.
In Casablanca, Senor Ferrari said, As the leader of all illegal activities in Casablanca, I am an influential and respected man. In London, Kofi says:
But you have certain elements in American society – the right-wing group and certain (members of the) press who have been very negative and very aggressive and have been systematically attacking us.
And, of course, I’m the face of the United Nations. And so if you want to destroy the United Nations, to discredit it, you have to focus on the face and the leader. It’s easier to attack an individual than an institution.
And they sometimes forget that the institution of the United Nations is the 191 states, including their own country, including the United States.
Hearing that made me think of these words, You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart. But Kofi continues,
So the failures of the United Nations are their failures too. And the successes of the UN are theirs. They sometimes behave as if the UN is a satellite somewhere, headed by this secretary general who wants to disturb our world.
To which I say, Kofi, We musn’t underestimate American blundering.
Since the Oil-For-Food program and subsequent scandal literally jumped onto his lap Kofi echoes Rick’s Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.:
Oil-for-food was an extra programme we were asked to undertake. Honestly, I wish we had never been given that programme, and I wish the UN will never be asked to undertake that kind of a programme again.
In Casablanca, [after observing the gambling tables at Rick’s]
Customer: Are you sure this place is honest?
Carl: Honest? As honest as the day is long!
while, in Kofi’s view,
We have lots of hard-working men and women who take risks to work for the organisation, who go to distant places to help others. One of them is in this room.
I hasten to add that there was at least one other UN employee in the room.
Casablanca’s Captain Renault said Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects, and here’s Kofi’s version:
So when you compare the size of the programme and the review that has been done with other situations, for people to say that the UN is packed with thieves and corrupt people – one has to put things in perspective.
Then there’s this exchange, which reminded me of They got a lucky break. Yesterday they were just two German clerks. Today they’re the “Honored Dead”, in which Kofi manages to blame terrorism on both the Americans and television — yesterday they were just “insurgents”, today they’re victims of the USA and the media:
Q: Is it fuelling a recruitment drive by the most militant of organisations?
A: Angry young people who have emotional and nationalistic or religious feeling may be inclined to sign on or would be very angry to see what is happening in what they would describe as the “occupation”, or one thing or the other – because they will not take the time to sit back and analyse.
They only base their decisions on what they see on television.
For now, You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. Your business is politics, mine is running a
saloon blog, but I end this post with Rick’s immortal words,
Rick: Twenty thousand francs says it isn’t.
Update Another line from the movie: Ugarte: Heh, you know, watching you just now with the Deutsche Bank, one would think you’ve been doing this all your life.
Via The Corner, Claudia Rosett & George Russell: The U.N.’s Spreading Bribery Scandal: Russian Ties and Global Reach
Procurement and budgeting corruption may escape Volcker’s scrutiny, but they are central to the mandate of Annan.
This scandal touches on almost everything the secretary-general is supposed to control. It is by way of procurement contracts, for goods and services ranging from cappuccino and paper clips at U.N. headquarters, to air freight services and food rations for peacekeeping troops worldwide, that the United Nations spends the billions contributed every year by member states — of which U.S. taxpayers provide the largest slice.
. . .
the documents provide more information than perhaps Volcker intended. The letter discusses food services costs for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Eritrea and Burundi, and refers to pricing and delivery amendments to the supply contracts. The memo includes references in Yakovlev’s handwriting to peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Cyprus, Western Sahara and the Golan Heights.
. . .
Yakovlev was also heavily involved in the United Nations’ hiring of inspection firms to monitor Saddam Hussein’s oil sales and relief purchases under the 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program, in which Russia topped the global list of both oil buyers and relief suppliers. Indeed, in the first of three interim reports this year from the U.N.-authorized probe into Oil-for-Food, led by Volcker, Yakovlev was presented as a star example of U.N. integrity. Only after his wrongdoing was brought to light by FOX News did Volcker produce evidence that Yakovlev was himself embroiled in corruption schemes.
Federal investigations into the alleged U.N. procurement bribery ring are continuing. Volcker has promised to release the underlying documentation of his Oil-for-Food probe when it comes to an end, after the main report due out Wednesday and a wrap-up report due in October. That could help identify the unnamed parties Volcker referred to as holding at least $79 million worth of U.N. contracts on which they paid Yakovlev close to $1 million in bribes
…Here’s looking at you, kid