Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Friday, November 18, 2005

Blood for Oil

A few weeks ago it was George Galloway on the take from Saddam, and it continues to unravel.

One of France's most distinguished diplomats has confessed to an investigating judge that he accepted oil allocations from Saddam Hussein, it emerged yesterday.

Jean-Bernard Mérimée is thought to be the first senior figure to admit his role in the oil-for-food scandal, a United Nations humanitarian aid scheme hijacked by Saddam to buy influence.

The Frenchman, who holds the title "ambassador for life", told authorities that he regretted taking payments amounting to $156,000 (then worth about £108,000) in 2002.

The money was used to renovate a holiday home he owned in southern Morocco. At the time, Mr Mérimée was a special adviser to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general.

According to yesterday's Le Figaro, he told judge Philippe Courroye during an interview on Oct 12: "I should not have done what I did. I regret it."

....The ambassador said the French authorities had known of his every move.

France has been gravely embarrassed by oil-for-food allegations against senior figures, including Charles Pasqua, the former interior minister. He has denied receiving any benefit from the oil allocations issued in his name.

Inquiries have also found that French firms benefited disproportionately from oil-for-food contracts as part of an Iraqi policy to influence French votes on the UN Security Council.

Supporters of President George W Bush accuse France of putting its foreign policy up for sale and opposing the invasion of Iraq for commercial reasons. That has been fiercely denied in Paris.

Mr Mérimée did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Telegraph.

This is just one more piece of evidence that the French's opposition to toppling Saddam Hussein was economic, rather than some righteous stand for peace. They shouted "no blood for oil" as they did their best to ensure the survival of one of the bloodiest regimes in history. For the French, Iraqi blood was a small price to pay for a continued flow of cheap oil.

For Shame.

(via Ed Morrissey)


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