They Say Kofi Annan is Scandalous? By NICHOLAS SMITH Commentary

Friday December 17, 2004

OK, as an early aside, I feel like I really need someone, anyone, to dedicate this letter to. I’ll just call my fictional recipient “Andy D. Quinio.” Sounds good. 

Anyhow, it has been revealed that Saddam Hussein has exploited the United Nations’ “Oil for Food” program, which allowed him to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies. Apparently the dictator channeled much of the money into his personal coffers at the expense of the Iraqi people. To make matters worse, Secretary General Kofi Annan’s son Kojo was allegedly being paid by a Swiss firm, Cotecna Inspection Services, which bought Iraqi oil through the U.N.’s “Oil for Food Program.” It seems that the firm was granted a “no-bid” contract of sorts. 

In response to these and other allegations, freshman U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has called for the secretary general to resign his post because the scandal occurred “on his watch.” The good senator says that “Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program” and “. . .[A]s long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes [and] kickbacks. . .that took place under the U.N.’s collective nose.” 

This particular United States senator seems to be very serious about eliminating fraud that occurs this particular government body. This is a highly admirable goal. If indeed the esteemed secretary general or anyone else is found to have committed fraud, resignations should be of the first order.  

However, the senator from Minnesota and his friends seem to salivate at the chance to dethrone General Annan, but they aren’t practicing their own assertions. Since Coleman is a “United States” senator, it seems that he should also be concerned with fraud that occurs right here in the United States, right? Well, it seems that Coleman would answer “no” judging from his absence on blatant fraud occurring inside the U.S. 

Has the man ever heard of Halliburton? Coleman’s Senate Boss, Dick Cheney, was CEO of Halliburton, as is well known. Not only has Halliburon allegedly inflated its profits with respect to cost overruns in Iraq, but it also has been accused of overcharging American taxpayers for services rendered in Iraq. In addition, they received their contract in terms that can be describes as “no-bid.” Somehow, the company that Cheney left in order to become (vice) president was the only qualified corporation to do reconstruction work in Iraq, a country that we should not have destroyed in the first place. 

If one needs another example of corruption in the highest levels of government, there are a plethora of them. A few of them are: The vice president’s meeting with Enron officials to write the energy policy of this nation behind closed doors, the name-leaking of a CIA agent’s wife, and the reliance on false intelligence which has lead to the deaths of thousands of our American troops. With respect to the illegal war, John Kerry said it best: “How can you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”  

These scandals are only a few of the many that have been committed on the watch of George W. Bush. We’ll see what happens in the next four years. 

Norm Coleman and his fellow Republicans have somehow not warmed up to the idea of rooting out corruption within the White House, but they sure are adamant about resignations in the preeminent international body, the United Nations. World leaders left and right are coming to the Secretary General’s defense, rightly. “I believe Kofi Annan is doing a fine job...I very hope much he is allowed to get on with his job, “ says British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Take it from Blair, an incredible Prime Minister, and not an ideologically driven freshman conservative. 

If Coleman and his ideological colleagues want Annan to resign because of scandal that occurred on Annan’s watch, logic dictates that they would have called for the resignation or impeachment of George W. Bush long ago. They haven’t, thus their efforts to dethrone the secretary general is a continuation by conservatives of lacking something needed to be successful in the long term: credibility. 


Nicholas Smith is a sophomore at UC Berkeley.›