It is alleged that under Iraqs Oil-for-Food programme the UN "stole" billions of dollars for its own use and that its officials received bribes worth millions of dollars. The Organization supposedly also sold expired medicines and shoddy goods, smuggled oil out of the country and favoured certain companies. Apparently, a UN official was even seen on the Place du Molard in Geneva selling a three-litre jerry can of oil smuggled out of Iraq. What a disgrace!
What is really outrageous is this slanderous campaign orchestrated in some political quarters. UN staff members are perhaps not all saints above suspicion and no one disputes that those who have done wrong must be punished. But theres a huge difference between accepting that and launching a sweeping attack against the UN. A difference which apparently some politicians prefer to ignore. Some of the allegations are so absurd that they would be funny if they didnt play into the hands of our Organizations detractors.
Why? To up the stakes in an election campaign in which one of the candidates is for the UN and the other against. To justify an intervention which is turning into a quagmire and which the UN refused to endorse in the first place. To mask a Pyrrhic victory and the embarrassment that the UN is being called to the rescue. How petty!
The only good thing to come out of this sorry tale is that the UN has become an election issue in one of the worlds most powerful countries, along with abortion, gay weddings and tax cuts. In the meantime, we should, as usual, lie low until the storm passes.