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You did not quote this part of the press release:

"Between 1999 and 2002 the former regime of Saddam Hussein collected $1.8 bn in kickbacks from companies, distorting a programme designed to ease the suffering of ordinary Iraqis under UN
sanctions."

Yes, the German government should investigate the German companies for "allegedly paying $11.9m in kickbacks," but let's keep this in perspective:

$11.9m "alleged" kickbacks is not so much compared to the $ 1.8 bn apparently confirmed kickbacks.

The German guilt seems to be pretty small. Who paid most of the kickbacks?

A few US companies have set up European subsidiaries in order to benefit from the Oil for Food program: Texaco and Chevron, now ChevronTexaco Corp.; Mobil, now Exxon Mobil Corp.; and a third company listed as Phoenix International. ChevronTexaco and Exxon Mobil have been subpoenaed by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office for a grand jury investigation into the Oil-for-Food program.

Still, any German involvement is a disgrace. And it is even worse that the German government did not properly investigate it.

The point is not which country carries which share of the guilt but that the containment of Iraq between the 1991 ceasefire and the 2003 invasion was a fundamentally flawed design. The biggest disgrace I see is that a majority in this country believes this could have been continued forever. Oil-for-food is a synonym for quid-pro-quo diplomacy which never works.

Anyways, billions or millions, these are huge amounts of money. With a tiny fraction of that I could stop worrying about groceries and invest my energy into political punditry...

Hey Jorg, as the saying goes, you can't get a little bit pregnant.

@ FranzisM

"containment of Iraq between the 1991 ceasefire and the 2003 invasion was a fundamentally flawed design."

Nothing is perfect. The question is what is less flawed. The containment or the current war, which is cost tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives and is motivating the next generation of terrorists.

@ Scott H

"you can't get a little bit pregnant."

Are you able to see some shades between black and white?

@Jorg - It may be interesting to speculate in which state the United Nations might be today had the Bush administration decided differently in 2003.

Certainly the information which became the background for this thread would not be available to us. There would be more corruption and less transparency, and significantly less awareness of the problems in the UN.

And I doubt that the terrorists that now are active in Iraq would have remained passive, it is more likely that they would have dispersed their attacks more wide-ranging, to Israel, Europe, and maybe again the U.S.A.

In 2003, the choice was between keeping up an illusion and cutting a gordian knot. None of these options is perfect, but only one is a cocksure dead end.

Today, Mohammed Khatami is not UN Secretary General. Jürgen Möllemann is not Bundeskanzler. Ariel Sharon is not at the Hague. Yasser Arafat is not in Jerusalem. I can imagine the international system in a much worse state than it is as a result of toppling Saddam.

When fire-fighters put out the fire in a burning house, sometimes there is more damage from the water than from the fire. But there is nobody who would argue that this was a reason against putting out fires because individuals whose apartments are drowned might be motivated to become arsonists. Such an assumption would be perceived as a self-fulfilling prophecy or worse.

Germany – morally pure as the driven snow.

Now if they could just stop digging up those mass graves from the last time Germany was so pure.

@ FranzisM

"Today, Mohammed Khatami is not UN Secretary General. Jürgen Möllemann is not Bundeskanzler. Ariel Sharon is not at the Hague. Yasser Arafat is not in Jerusalem. I can imagine the international system in a much worse state than it is as a result of toppling Saddam."

Thank you so much for starting the Iraq war. Without the Iraq war all these bad people would be in power now. Absolutely. Besides, without the Iraq war, those evil aliens from the 80s tv series "V - the visitors" would have attacked us.

I can't speak to the German involvement in the Oil-for-Food scandal but I can update the fate of some of the American companies. Samir Vincent, and Iraqi-American, was head of Phoenix International, made a plea deal in Federal Court to pay $15 million in fines and still faces the possibility of 28 years in jail. Oscar Wyatt of Coastal Corp. is still under indictment but faces less risk because he cooperated in the conviction of another briber, Tongsun Park.

CheronTexaco Corp. paid $30 million in fines and agreed to several limitations on its bidding for overseas projects. They ended up paying more in fines than they did in kickbacks. While Mobil is still being investigated, but no indictment and no leaks.

Another big player was El Paso Oil which paid $7 million plus in fines and agreed to the same corporate limits on overseas bidding as Chevron. Cargill was initially linked to the bidding but essentially cleared because the only evidence that they had bribed or kickbacked to Iraq was simply the result of doing business there when most of the corruption was being investigated.

So to claim that there has been no action taken against American companies is not very accurate, especially compared to the foot dragging that Britain, France and Germany has been engaged with. Russia simply is not foot dragging because they are not investigating any of the suspect companies, Gazprom and the Russian/German company Nord Stream, for example.

A little OT, but Ray, have you seen the new poll that indicates 72% of Germans mistrust America? By comparison, the French are very trustworthy. Very interesting. I can imagine in the newsrooms all over Germany, chief editors are saying "Good work, boys... now let's get cracking on that other 28%."

"Thank you so much for starting the Iraq war."

Thank the UN, Jorg.

"Thank you so much for starting the Iraq war."

Thank the UN, Jorg.

Jorg - "Thank you so much for starting the Iraq war."

You´ve got a point. Some say Saddam started it in 1990, because he thought grabbing Kuwait would unite the Arabs behind him, but the root cause goes back a bit further. His Baath party was founded in the League of Nations mandate territories of Vichy France, after Rudolf Hess had failed to persuade the British to refrain from fighting the 1941 pro-Nazi coup in Iraq, and Hitler and the Mufti had come to an agreement on regional domination. The Nazis were laying their foundations for absorbing the Middle East, when some chieftain on a pale horse from the other side of the planet thought he knew better and woke up you Americans. Rest of story known.

I accept your premise that Germany is the root cause of this war, and I´ll include you in my prayer the next time I am at my grandfather´s grave. How do you think can we move on to bring this to a good end?

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