Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Motives Behind "Soft" Power

Anti-war activists accused the U.S. of invading Iraq for oil. Well, it appears that some countries were interested in Iraq's oil, and tried to use their "soft" power to protect those interests.
More than 2,000 companies taking part in the United Nations oil-for-food programme paid illegal surcharges and kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, an inquiry has found.

Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, has delivered a fifth and final report, which details how thousands of companies and individuals around the world were involved in illegal transactions to circumvent the UN programme. . . "the country with the most companies involved was Russia, followed by France."

The 500-page report said companies in 66 countries paid kickbacks on selling Iraq humanitarian goods and companies from 40 countries paid surcharges on oil contracts but the UN Security Council took little action.

The program, which began in December 1996 and ended in 2003, was aimed at easing the impact of UN sanctions imposed in 1990 after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. It achieved considerable success in feeding Iraqis, and allowed Iraq to sell oil in order to pay for food, medicine and other goods.

Preferential treatment was given to companies from France, Russia and China, the report says, all permanent members of the Security Council, who were more favorable to lifting the 1990 sanctions than the America and Britain.

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