Like boomerangs and bad karma, lies and blackmail have a way of coming back at you.
When you tell one lie, you are soon forced to tell another to cover up the first one. Then another and another, till you have strung out a whole web of fantasy.
Similarly, when you pay off one blackmailer to keep your dirty secrets from pubic view, you soon find another blackmailer, and another, knocking at your door. You might even find the first blackmailer coming back for more.
So it is with the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) investigation into bribes and kick-backs paid to Saddam Hussein in contravention of UN sanctions.
When it was first reported that the AWB had made such payments to Saddam, a US senator named Norman Coleman loudly demanded a full investigation from John Howard's government. Words were spoken, emails were sent, shoulders were quietly tapped, and Senator Coleman suddenly lost interest in the whole affair. The USA and Australia are, after all, brothers standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the battlefield against (ahem!) "terrorists".
When it became embarrassingly (undeniably) clear that the AWB had made such payments to Saddam, the new, democratically elected (tee hee) Iraqi government immediately announced that they were horrified - horrified! - by this news and would no longer be able to deal with the AWB. So the Australian trade minister rushed to Baghdad to sing a new deal with that veritable icon of economic virtue, Ahmed Chalabi. One can only guess what payments were made under the table this time.
Now certain US politicians are demanding even more scrutiny of the AWB! These guys represent US wheat farmers who are pissed off at being under-mined by Australian sanctions-busting.
"AWB's violations of the UN oil for food program show a clear willingness to break international rules. This puts American wheat farmers at a distinct disadvantage," Iowa Senator Harkin wrote.So how much will we have to pay these pro-farming politicians to shut up? What concessions and sweetheart deals will we need to make?
The letter to Portman was also signed by Democratic Senators Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan and Ken Salazar.
They also asked Portman to address the issue of monopoly control at ongoing World Trade Organisation negotiations.
"These developments underscore the critical importance of reining in the operations of state trading entities (STEs) in the agriculture negotiations of the Doha Development Round," the senators said.
As part of the Doha round of talks on lowering global trade barriers, WTO member countries are trying to thrash out a deal on how to overhaul rich nations' farm supports.
Here's one ominous sign:
The US Defence Department has approved a possible sale of up to four Boeing C-17 cargo planes and associated equipment to Australia in a deal worth up to $US2 billion ($A2.8 billion).How much is John Howard's ass in a sling really worth?
Ahmed Chalabi, you will remember, was involved in a hectic race through post-invasion Baghdad to get hold of Saddam's old accounts records. Offices were raided, computers hard drives were smashed to pieces, a man was killed. All very strange. All completely forgotten by the media, but not forgotten by yours truly:
Ahmed Chalabi hired an old friend from KPMG accountants, Mr. HANKES-DRIELSMA, to investigate where the funds went. But when Chalabi was busted in a CIA raid, the KPMG papers disappeared and Drielsma’s hard disc was smashed. The KPMG report was never released.Australian PM John Howard has his own dirty history of anti-UN activism with regard to aborigines, immigrants and other shameful issues. I guess it's all part of nation-building, eh?
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audit had appointed international accountants Ernst and Young to perform a separate investigation. But in July 2004 Ihsan Karim, the Iraqi official heading the investigation, was killed in a mysterious bomb attack.
It looked like the Bush Boyz had won the race. It wasn’t long before they started using the incriminatinn evidence against Kofi Annan and the UN, particularly invasion opponents France and Russia. Anna’s son was forced to resign. People like John Bolton were shouting that the UN was in urgent need of reform…
We were told that we had to invade Iraq because there were WMDs, but there were none. We were also told "sanctions were not working", remember? Now it turns out that the Australian Wheat Board (government-owned at the time) was the single biggest transgressor of UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein.
Anyone who has ever journeyed through Third World countries where such bribery is endemic will understand that we Australians do the poor citizens of such countries no favours at all by perpetuating the problem of entrenched corruption. Our trade with Saddam helped him stay in power, just as our trade with China helps them maintain repression. Those who argue that it is OK because it is “good for us Aussies” are probably the same people who think it is OK to invade oil-rich countries in order to seize their oil. We boast about spreading our enlightened “values” while those same values become a hollow memory.
A little more news on our friend Ahmed Chalabi:
Iraq’s oil exports hit another post-invasion low in December and January, according to the Oil & Gas Journal. How do they know? Good question: according to Reuters, production and exports have gone unmetered since the Coalition Provisional Authority took over the country following the 2003 invasion; until new meters are installed, everybody’s just guessing.