(You know, MediaRevolution, that URL field is intended for your URL, not a press release. HREF links do work within comments. But it’s nothing to me, however you want to use it is fine. I’m used to seeing people who want to see the US lose the war not giving their real names.)

Homework? Certainly. I’ll do some homework.

BBC | 12-23-98 | Oil-for-food scheme no cure-all

As United Nations humanitarian staff go back to work in Iraq after the US-led air strikes, serious questions hang over the UN oil-for-food programme which funds the distribution of desperately needed aid to millions of ordinary Iraqis.

…Under the programme, which began in December 1996, Iraq has been allowed to sell oil worth $5.2bn every six months to buy essential supplies for its people. About a third of the proceeds go towards the UN weapons inspection programme and a compensation fund for the damage caused by the Gulf War.

The programme’s aim is to offset the shortages and suffering caused by UN trade sanctions which have been in place against Iraq since the Gulf War, pending the destruction by Baghdad of all banned weapons.

But the arrangement faces a number of problems:

* Because of a slump in oil prices, proceeds from sales have amounted to only about 3bn dollars in the past six months, well short of the 5.2bn dollar limit.

* In response to this, the US has proposed increasing the amount of oil Iraq can sell if there is assessed to be a humanitarian need for more food. But because of the poor state of Iraq’s petrochemical industry, there are doubts as to whether Iraq would be able to produce more oil for export even if it were allowed to.

* In spite of the programme, serious deprivation and malnourishment are a reality in Iraq. A Unicef report in 1997 estimated that nearly one million Iraqi children were chronically malnourished.

Yes, I see how heartless the US is, allowing the UN to line its own pockets with Iranian oil money, and even proposing that the program be expanded to produce enough aid that it might actually get to the Iragi people, rather than insisting that the UN not skim a third off the top. Darn our enabling hides.

Yes, I are deeply ashamed of US complicity in UN operations. But, at least, it appears we have learned from our mistakes.

I wonder where Saddam got his ready cash. Upkeep on presidential palaces is, you should excuse the expression, murder.

The Iraq Foundation | 10-7-2002 | U.N. Oil-for-Food Program Is A Windfall For Saddam

Mother’s-milky though it sounds, the oil-for-food program has enough graft, mismanagement, and Saddam-strengthening patronage to turn one permanently against both oil and food. A real critique could occupy volumes — and does, in fact, occupy much of an exhaustive analysis, titled Sources of Revenue for Saddam and Sons, recently issued by the Washington-based Coalition for International Justice, a group that monitors human-rights abuses around the world.

Ah. I see.

CBS | 11-21-2003 | U.N.’s Iraq Oil-For-Food Plan Ends

The United Nations oil-for-food program officially ends on Friday, seven years after the unique enterprise began feeding the majority of Iraqis. The U.S.-led coalition will take over the multi-billion dollar operation and continue supplying Iraqis with food until June.

Oil-for-food was the only humanitarian program funded entirely from resources belonging to the country it was designed to help, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Thursday.

You mean, they’re billing the people least able to pay for it? And they’re proud of that?

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge. “And the Union workhouses? Are they still in operation? The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then? I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.”

And now the US will run it directly? Seems appropriate: We’ve been paying the UN’s bills all along, the food may as well have our name on it, not theirs.

But it appears, then, that the UN is closing the program not because the need is met, but in order to transfer its expense directly to the US in punitive retaliation for “starting” the war. That’s OK. We can afford it. If we have to cut back, maybe we’ll start with our UN dues.

Thanks for the suggestion: This “homework” has been enlightening. Not only is the UN ineffectual and obstructive, but they’ve actually been paying their own administrative expenses with Iraqi oil money–and, intentionally or not, paying off Saddam Hussein under the table as well.