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Friday, April 25, 2003

Am I Opposed to the UN In Principle?

Tony Adragna
Nope! Actually, nothing can be further from the truth. But, the UN's conscience is just like any other — utterly useless unless well formed.

Throughout the Cold War, and continuing during the '90s, the UN and its Security Council were feckless at best — duplicitous at worst. That's not simply the opinion of an American conservative [which I'm not!] — an international diplomat recently wrote
In the bipolar world of the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was used to maintain an uneasy security that covered the superpowers, their allies and their spheres of influence. The end of the Cold War was one huge step forward, but the failure to capitalize on the opportunities it offered -- to fill the void with a new, inclusive scheme for international security -- may have taken us two steps back. Old ethnic conflicts and cultural disputes that had lain dormant both between and within nations were reawakened. The United Nations system of collective security, paralyzed during the Cold War, has not yet been able to reinvent itself to cope with these changing times and new threats. Longstanding conflicts, such as those in the Middle East and Kashmir and on the Korean Peninsula, have continued to fester with little prospect of settlement. And new conflicts have either been mishandled, as in Rwanda and Burundi, or dealt with outside the United Nations system, as in Kosovo.
That's from Mohamed ElBaradei — the same former Egyptian diplomat who heads the IAEA. ElBaradei proposes reform
Must we conclude, therefore, that it is futile to try to control weapons of mass destruction through a collective, rule-based system of international security -- and that the only available alternative is a preemptive military strike based on a premise that a country may be harboring such weapons? I believe we must reform the former rather than resorting to the latter.
ElBaradei goes on to mention some things we ought look at when considering how to get at a "U.N. collective system of security [that is] reinvigorated and modernized to match realities" I think we need to get at something fundamental about the way the system operates: The international system's preference for the "law of rules" over the "rule of law".

Iraq Sanctions Watch (cont.): The US is Resolved!

Tony Adragna
I've been waiting for this — "U.S. to Offer Resolution to End Sanctions"
The Bush administration plans to introduce next week a U.N. Security Council resolution that would lift more than a decade of international sanctions on Iraq, while limiting U.N. involvement in Iraq's foreseeable future to a consultative role, senior administration officials said yesterday.

The resolution would direct U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to name a special representative who can work with U.S. officials in Baghdad on humanitarian and reconstruction programs, and on the formation of an Iraqi Interim Authority, officials said. But it would firmly endorse control by the United States and its military allies over international involvement in Iraq until a permanent, representative government is in place...

While still being drafted, current versions of the resolution offer specific plans for the Iraqi oil industry, moving its profits from U.N. control to an Iraqi Central Bank fund to be spent on reconstruction activities designated either by the Pentagon-run Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance headed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner or by the Iraqi Interim Authority (IIA), once it is in place, according to officials involved in discussions over the wording.

Distributions from the fund would be monitored by an international financial authority, perhaps the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank...
This is exactly the move I've been awaiting.

I was starting to get worried that Mr. Bush might hold off 'til June — when the current oil-for-? mandate expires — while cobbling together this Iraqi Interim Authority. What changed?

I think Mr. Annan's usage of "occupation" didn't just irk the White House — it also laid the foundation for claiming that there is already a sufficiently recognized "authority" inside Iraq, empowered by those conventions Annan cited. The Secretary General can't have it the both ways of asserting that the U.S. is an "Occupying Power" with duties vis a vis the governance of Iraq, while at the same time asserting that there's no competent authority in Iraq.

Certainly, we don't want to be an "Occupying Power", but we also can't get around the fact that in effect this is exactly what the coalition is for now. Our squeamishness has to do with the negative connotation of "occupation", but we ought get over it so we can get about the business at hand — the sooner we do is just that much sooner we can put the government of Iraq fully back into the hands of Iraqis...

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Iraq Sanctions Watch(cont.): Qu'est-ce que c'est "fiduciary"?

Tony Adragna
Kofi Annan wants the coalition "occupation" to "set an example by making clear that they intend to act strictly within the rules"
Annan cited the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1907 Hague Convention, accords that set down the responsibilities of occupiers - ranging from maintaining public order to collecting taxes.
Does he mean like the UN collected revenue for the benefit of Iraqis?
The oil-for-food program is no ordinary relief effort. Not only does it involve astronomical amounts of money, it also operates with alarming secrecy. Intended to ease the human cost of economic sanctions by letting Iraq sell oil and use the profits for staples like milk and medicine, the program has morphed into big business. Since its inception, the program has overseen more than $100 billion in contracts for oil exports and relief imports combined.

It also collects a 2.2 percent commission on every barrel — more than $1 billion to date — that is supposed to cover its administrative costs. According to staff members, the program's bank accounts over the past year have held balances upward of $12 billion. With all that money pouring straight from Iraq's oil taps — thus obviating the need to wring donations from member countries — the oil-for-food program has evolved into a bonanza of jobs and commercial clout. Before the war it employed some 1,000 international workers and 3,000 Iraqis. (The Iraqi employees — charged with monitoring Saddam Hussein's imports and distribution of relief goods — of course all had to be approved by the Baath Party.)

Initially, all contracts were to be approved by the Security Council. Nonetheless, the program facilitated a string of business deals tilted heavily toward Saddam Hussein's preferred trading partners, like Russia, France and, to a lesser extent, Syria. About a year ago, in the name of expediency, Mr. Annan was given direct authority to sign off on all goods not itemized on a special watch list. Yet shipments with Mr. Annan's go-ahead have included so-called relief items such as "boats" and boat "accessories" from France and "sport supplies" from Lebanon (sports in Iraq having been the domain of Saddam's Hussein's sadistic elder son, Uday).
Billions of dollars, LOC's from a French bank, and questionable disbursements that can't even be looked into because the books aren't subject to any kind of public accounting — if there's an argument for some international form of a RICO statute, the oil-for-? kleptocracy is it.

Tell ya what, Mr. Annan, lift the sanctions, let go of that rice bowl, and let's get some money flowing back into Iraq for the benefit of Iraqis...

More Iraq Sanctions Watch

Final Word on Santorum

Tony Adragna
Actually, it's Richard Cohen's last word
[Santorum] does, I think, raise a profound question that he ought to answer himself: If you have the orientation of a moron, do you still have to talk like one?
Well, Richard, as momma used to say, moron is as moron does. And I'm "inclined to pay [the moron] no mind"...

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Why I'm Not Particularly Paying Any
Attention to Sen. Santorum's Remarks

Updated 9:00 PM
Tony Adragna
What Santorum said was in the context of Lawrence & Garner v. Texas, and I've heard it before
[...] I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even “animus” toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of “animus” at issue here...
That's from Justice Scalia's dissent in Romer v. Evans, where he considers the "animus" against homosexuality to be akin that we rightly hold against murder — least Santorum didn't go that far.

I'm less "offended" by Santorum's comment than I am simply inclined to pay him no mind — takes energy for me to get all worked up, and I'd rather spend that energy tackling Mr. Justice Scalia...

Update: Good thing I didn't waste the energy getting all worked up — here's what Santorum said
SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.
I don't think that adding "[gay]" in the shortened quote is disingenuous — Santorum spoke about homosexuality & the priest sex-abuse scandal inter alia earlier in the interview, and refered to the current Texas sodomy case here.

I think Andrew is right on, though — Santorum's comments have a much wider application than just to homosexuality, and in that light he's even less "offensive" and I'm more "inclined to pay him no mind"...

Iraq Sanctions Watch (cont.)

Tony Adragna
&#%*ing feckless frogs
UNITED NATIONS, April 22 -- France today proposed the immediate suspension of all civilian U.N. trade sanctions against Iraq but insisted that the 13-year-old embargo could not be formally lifted until U.N. inspectors certified Iraq's disarmament.

The French initiative, which caught U.S. officials by surprise, reflected mounting concern by Paris that it could be viewed as preventing Iraqis from reviving their economy as they emerge from more than a decade of sanctions.

The proposal would achieve a key French objective by guaranteeing international control over Iraq's oil revenue until an internationally recognized Iraqi government is in power...

French diplomats said their proposal would permit foreign investment in Iraq for the first time in more than a decade. It would also allow the resumption of commercial flights and financing of all exports. Military sanctions would remain in place. "Basically, suspending sanctions has the same practical effect as lifting the sanctions," a French diplomat said.
France still wants to keep the sales of Iraqi oil, and the revenue from those sales, under "international [read: UN] control", while at the same time allowing foreign investment & export financing. Nevermind that Iraq might be better off selling her own oil, investing the proceeds in rebuilding herself and financing her own exports. Can't have that — France would lose out on the making of a few francs on, oh, let's see, the foreign investment & export financing that French companies were already long in the process of arranging with Saddam's regime despite the sanctions...

And on what do the übber-cyniques base their opposition to immediately lifting sanctions vis a vis oil sales?[he asks rhetorically]

More Iraq Sanctions Watch

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Iraq Sanctions Watch

Tony Adragna
Are France & Russia starting to cave? You be the judge
[...] France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, made a surprise proposal that the organization suspend all sanctions targeting Iraqi civilians. The move by France could be a key step toward the U.S. goal of ending trade embargoes that over years helped cripple Iraq's economy.

President Bush called last week for sanctions to be lifted quickly, so Iraq's oil revenue can be used to finance reconstruction.

The Security Council imposed sanctions after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Under council resolutions, sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed along with the long-range missiles to deliver them. Blix noted today, though, that the Security Council can change or abrogate its resolutions at any time.

France was in the forefront of opposition to the U.S.-led war against Iraq, along with Russia, Germany and China. But de la Sabliere said before the meeting that Security Council "must take into account the new realities on the ground."

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov had said his country is "not at all opposed to the lifting of sanctions." But he said Russia wants U.N. inspectors to certify that Iraq has been disarmed of all weapons of mass destruction, as required under U.N. resolutions.
"New realities on the ground" is French for we ain't gonna have it our way — continued French opposition would merely hurt Iraqi civilians, not achieve French goals, and would surely hurt France's image. In that light, how could they dare oppose lifting the sanctions? They can't...

The Russians are soon to come around, too...

Related QP items:
Russia, France and Germany Want Sanctions on Iraq Maintained? [4/3/03]
Let's See the Draft Resolution! [4/16/03]
There Must Be A Draft Floating Around [4/16/03]
"'Modalities' is French for 'payoff'" [4/21/03]

"[A]buse by priests did not begin with the 'sexual revolution'"

Tony Adragna
A good tale of "One Diocese's Early Warning On Sex Abuse"
When he learned that one of his priests was preying on teenage girls, Bishop Matthew F. Brady of Manchester, N.H., yanked the man out of ministry. Then he wrote letter after letter -- at least 15 in all -- warning other bishops not to let the priest back into parish work.

Considering how many Roman Catholic bishops have quietly transferred sexual abusers to new parishes, Brady's stand was notable. But what's really startling is the year he took it: 1957...

The correspondence makes clear that sexual abuse by priests did not begin with the "sexual revolution" in American life in the 1960s, as some Catholics have maintained. By the 1950s, the New Hampshire files show, U.S. bishops had a lot of experience with the problem.

But the Brady documents reveal much more. They contain evidence, in confidential messages between bishops, that a shortage of priests sometimes led Catholic officials to accept the calculated risk of keeping sex offenders in ministry.

They also disprove the contention that church leaders were unaware until recently that pedophilia is difficult, if not impossible, to cure. The advice Brady received from the nation's first treatment center for troubled priests, Via Coeli in Jemez Springs, N.M., was that priests who had molested minors were unlikely to change...
There's a good question in the article, posed by a Johns Hopkins professor of psychiatry: "Has this kind of abuse always been endemic in the church, and the only thing that changed is our interest in it [...] Or was it an epidemic that occurred in the 1970s and '80s as a result of lapses by bishops who failed to recognize these crimes for what they are?" The professor serves on "the National Review Board established by U.S. bishops to examine the sexual abuse scandal", and if this is the type of question that's being asked, then I've reason for hope.

My opinion: Yes, the problem has "always" existed in the church — priests are men, and you will find the same types of behavior amongst them as you'll find in the rest of society. No, it wasn't "an epidemic that occurred in the 1970s and '80s", but for several reasons began to present as if an epidemic.

Monday, April 21, 2003

"'Modalities' is French for 'payoff'"

Tony Adragna
Charles Krauthammer says, "Lift the Sanctions Now".

Before launching into the French, Chuck gives a good historical perspective of Russian cynicism
In the history of diplomacy going back to, oh, Babylonian times, it is hard to find a pronouncement as cynical.
Of course, the French & Russian opposition to lifting sanctions isn't about ensuring Iraqi compliance with Security Council Resolutions, so what is the holdup?
Having decided not just to sit out the war but to actively oppose the liberation of Iraq, France, like Russia, has only one card left to play in post-Hussein Iraq. Under U.N. rules, the sanctions can be lifted only by a positive vote of the Security Council, which means that France and Russia have veto power. Their concern about weapons of mass destruction and "modalities" is nothing more than blackmail.

What are they after? They want a continuation of the oil-for-food program -- Tommy Franks correctly called it the "oil-for-palace program" -- under which the United Nations has been using Iraqi oil proceeds to buy tons of goods largely from France, Russia and Syria (including equipment for "educational TV" and boat "accessories," as Claudia Rosett notes in a devastating exposé in the New York Times). They want the honoring of the enormous oil-exploration concessions that Hussein gave them (in return for their services to him at the United Nations). And they want the new Iraq to be saddled with the huge and reckless loans they made to Hussein to build his palaces and buy his weapons.

Until then, Iraq starves. This is blackmail so brazen that it is hard to believe the French and the Russians will have the courage to carry it out. Because of "the public relations aspects," a Security Council diplomat told The Post, "I don't think they can hold the Iraqi economy hostage."
Exactly! How do we respond?

Chuck is concerned that the Bush administration might make the payoff. That's not an irrational concern — evidence that Bush is still calling on the UN to act, instead of instructing Amb. Negroponte to move a resolution. There is another way to read this, though: The UN gets another chance to prove itself inane. Once that happens, Chuck could get his wish that we not go "on a pilgrimage to Turtle Bay."

Just in case, Chuck offers a resolution that he dares the French & Russians to veto
"Whereas the sanctions were imposed on the regime of Saddam Hussein; whereas that regime is no more; whereas sanctions are now needlessly preventing Iraq's economic recovery; the sanctions are hereby abolished."
I like.

My gut says Chuck won't get his wish — we'll offer a resolution, and the French & Russian won't dare veto...