April 11, 2005

More Flawed Institutions in the News

Posted by Jeremy Brown

This take on flawed institution theory is different from the last. This time Tom Regan in the Christian Science Monitor tells a story whose moral seems to be that all corruption must be expunged from the planet before any steps are taken to expunge any corruption from the planet:

Iraq is becoming 'free fraud' zone

Corruption in Iraq under US-led CPA may dwarf UN oil-for-food scandal.


[Jeremy Brown reported that Tom Regan of the Christian Science Monitor reported that] Newsweek reported earlier this week that Frank Willis compared Iraq to the “wild west,” and that with only $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion that the US government set aside for the reconstruction of Iraq having been spent, the lack of action on the part of the government means “the corruption will only get worse.”

Please believe me when I say I'd like for this to be thoroughly investigated. There's enough Lefty left in me that I don't doubt there are corrupt scumbags in every large corporation who would do this sort of thing (and, of course, in a post-Enron world you no longer have to be Left wing to harbor such cynical notions).

But the message driving this article seems to have less to do with the importance of exposing corruption than with making a case that, while global transparency is a nice idea, the United States is not free enough of sin to cast the first stone (though I'd be a bit surprised if we learn that Haliburton has been giving Saddam kickbacks — a gold-plated shiv, or a brick of joes, or whatever it is incarcerated mass-murderers covet):

Rep. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, one of five panels probing the oil-for-food program, told CNN the United States was 'complicit in undermining' the UN sanctions on Iraq. 'How is it that you stand on a moral footing to go after the UN when they're responsible for 15 percent maybe of the ill-gotten gains, and we were part and complicit of him getting 85 percent of the money?” Menendez asked.

George W. Bush, to put it another way, has broken up the syndicate. I think this is a good thing. And yes, if he's not willing to expose any corruption that might continue to exist within the U.S. entities now in Iraq then it's the job of the press to expose such corruption.

But the interesting lede that's buried in this story is the fact that there are powerful people in the world whose response to news of U.N. corruption is to express resentment that the fun is over. I find this embarrassing.

Posted by Jeremy Brown at April 11, 2005 8:15 AM
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