"The scale of the Oil-for-Food scandal pales into insignificance alongside the current plundering of Iraq by Halliburton, Bechtel and other US corporations with close connections to the Bush administration and its illegal occupation of the country.
"The stench of hypocrisy and cynicism that surrounds the oil-for-food inquiry underscores the fact that it has little to do with allegations of corruption against Annan and other UN officials. Like other multilateral international institutions, the UN has become a battleground where the US is seeking to assert its unchallenged supremacy over its imperialist rivals. The Bush administration is exploiting the scandal as one means for undermining the UN, either to force through changes, or failing that, to neuter or even destroy the organisation.
"Most of the money was not bribes and kickbacks, but oil smuggling on a massive scale—principally through two close US allies, Jordan and Turkey—to which Washington turned a blind eye. The US and Britain, whose warplanes flew daily missions over Iraq to enforce the so-called northern and southern “no-fly” zones, were in the best position to monitor smuggling. Moreover, two pro-US Kurdish parties, who collaborated closely with the CIA and other US agencies, made substantial profits from the illicit trade that passed through the northern no-fly zone to Turkey.
"At the heart of the oil-for-food scandal are sharp differences over the future of the UN. Annan unveiled a reform package on March 21, firstly, to resurrect the UN’s tattered image as a body concerned with peace, justice and ending poverty and, secondly, to deal with the sharp rifts that were most graphically revealed in the conflict between the US and Europe over the 2003 Iraq invasion.
"The attacks on Annan’s credibility are in line with the Bush administration’s appointment of arch neo-conservatives to top international bodies—John Bolton, former US undersecretary of state, as US ambassador to the UN, and Paul Wolfowitz, former US deputy secretary of defence and the chief architect of the Iraq invasion, to head the World Bank.
"The United Nations has never been an organisation for achieving peace, democratic rights and better living standards. It has always been, as Lenin said of its League of Nations predecessor, “a thieves kitchen” where the major imperialist powers settled their disputes and divvied up the spoils. If the institution is now in a crisis, it reflects a falling out among the thieves.