Triple cross

The news that AWB Chairman Trevor Flugge was told of the invasion of Iraq, and of Australia’s planned participation in early 2002 adds yet another layer of deception to this amazing story of duplicity.

At the core of the story is of course AWB’s leadership in the subversion of the Oil-for-Food program. AWB connived at the theft of around $100 million dollars from money held in trust for the Iraqi people, handing some back to Saddam Hussein to finance (among other things) the purchase of weapons many of which are now being used by the insurgency and the purchase of political support through payments to the families of suicide bombers. Obviously this required AWB to deceive the United Nations, which it did,

Meanwhile the Australian government was engaged in multiple deceptions, including self-deceptions. It deceived the world, including the UN and the Americans by denying the accusations that were regularly made against AWB. Meanwhile an elaborate system of nods and winks ensured that, while fully aware that AWB was doing “whatever it took” to sell wheat to Saddam, could swear that they had never been told about the systemic bribery going on under their very noses.

More seriously, while stating publicly that war was a last resort, which could be avoided as long as Saddam readmitted weapons inspectors, the Australian government was concealing inside knowledge that US policy was set on war regardless of the required pretext. The latest news indicates that this was the case well before July 2002, when the Downing Street memos recorded the fact.

Now we learn that AWB was part of the inside team, informed of what was going on. This adds yet more layers. First, the legal fiction that the formal privatisation of AWB, with its government-enforced monopoly powers intact, made it a private organisation rather than a government instrumentality has been exposed as a sham. Clearly, the government is just as responsible for the actions of AWB as if they had been those of a government department (of course, with the death of the doctrine ministerial responsibility, that’s not saying much).

More interestingly, AWB was presumably double-crossing its partners in crime on the Iraqi side, taking their money while well aware they were marked for destruction. Or perhaps favoured individuals were tipped off, and warned to prepare themselves for an accommodation with their new rulers – certainly some of them seem to have survived the downfall of the Baath regime with AWB help.

Finally of course, there’s the massive deceptions being perpetrated by the Australian supporters of the Iraq war, nearly all of whom have backed the government to the hilt over its support for AWB (most others have maintained a discreet silence). In this context, I should exempt those who frankly present our participation in the war as a matter of self-interest in backing the Americans, while looking out for the largest possible cut of the spoils of war. But all those who’ve accused war opponents of being objectively pro-Saddam should recognise that the government they support has directly funded Saddam, and indirectly funded Hamas, and the current insurgency.

35 thoughts on “Triple cross

  1. Pr Q says:

    At the core of the story is of course AWB’s leadership in the subversion of the
    Oil-for-Food program. AWB connived at the theft of around $100 million dollars from money held in trust for the Iraqi people, handing some back to Saddam Hussein to finance (among other things) the purchase of weapons many of which are now being used by the insurgency and the purchase of political support through payments to the families of suicide bombers. Obviously this required AWB to deceive the United Nations, which it did,

    The Oil-for-Food program was designed to be subverted. Ditto Haliburton regime change. Both programs had to go through corrupt agencies (Baathist Iraqis, Republican Americans) to be effective. But both programs had good proximate effects. Oil for Food fed Iraqi children. Regime change deposed a fascist dictator. Bad means for good ends. Get over it, thats foreign policy in a world this side of the vale of tears.

    Pr Q says:

    Meanwhile the Australian government was engaged in multiple deceptions, including self-deceptions. It deceived the world, including the UN and the Americans by denying the accusations that were regularly made against AWB. Meanwhile an elaborate system of nods and winks ensured that, while fully aware that AWB was doing “whatever it took� to sell wheat to Saddam, could swear that they had never been told about the systemic bribery going on under their very noses.

    More seriously, while stating publicly that war was a last resort, which could be avoided as long as Saddam readmitted weapons inspectors, the Australian government was concealing inside knowledge that US policy was set on war regardless of the required pretext. The latest news indicates that this was the case well before July 2002, when the Downing Street memos recorded the fact.

    Correct. Howard is a blatant liar on delicate foreign policy or peripheral domesitic policy are concerned, But he has always maintained, or alluded, that right policy trumps true politics.

    Pr Q says:

    Now we learn that AWB was part of the inside team, informed of what was going on. This adds yet more layers. First, the legal fiction that the formal privatisation of AWB, with its government-enforced monopoly powers intact, made it a private organisation rather than a government instrumentality has been exposed as a sham. Clearly, the government is just as responsible for the actions of AWB as if they had been those of a government department (of course, with the death of the doctrine ministerial responsibility, that’s not saying much).

    More interestingly, AWB was presumably double-crossing its partners in crime on the Iraqi side, taking their money while well aware they were marked for destruction. Or perhaps favoured individuals were tipped off, and warned to prepare themselves for an accommodation with their new rulers – certainly some of them seem to have survived the downfall of the Baath regime with AWB help.

    Those AWB guys were real cowboys, BUt they were operating in an outlaw state. Anything goes so long as the wheat gets sold by Australia, Baathists get the kick-backs and iraqi children get the bread.

    Its surprising that anyone would be naive enough to expect clean hands when dealing with middle-eastern states. They are a cess-pool of political vice. ANyone taking the plunge into these polities is bound to emerge covered in filth.

    Multiculturalists take note.

    Pr Q says:

    Finally of course, there’s the massive deceptions being perpetrated by the Australian supporters of the Iraq war, nearly all of whom have backed the government to the hilt over its support for AWB (most others have maintained a discreet silence). In this context, I should exempt those who frankly present our participation in the war as a matter of self-interest in backing the Americans, while looking out for the largest possible cut of the spoils of war.

    That would be me. Not for one minute did I think Howard was participating in the CoW for any other reason than USA-AUS coalition foreign policy mutual back-scratching. You rub our Timor itch and we scratch your Iraqi rash. Thats the way our world works.

    Nor did I believe that the USA was invading Iraq to disarm it of WMDs. From 2002 onwards I was convinvced that the USA was invading Iraq because it had no WMDs. Regime change was a complement, not a substitute, for Baathist disarmaent.

    Pr Q says:

    But all those who’ve accused war opponents of being objectively pro-Saddam should recognise that the government they support has directly funded Saddam, and indirectly funded Hamas, and the current insurgency.

    The war party were fools to believe that the war was anything else than an excercise in power politics. And more fool for thinking that the Bush admin were competent Real Politicians. The whole exercise was botched in conception and bungled in execution.

    And a fool who does not acknowledge an error is a knave.

  2. I was going to ask Pr Q to delete this comment until I fixed the html tagging. But it looks kind of like a really cool eecummings poem. So maybe we should leave it as is.

  3. Pr Q says:

    At the core of the story is of course AWB’s leadership in the subversion of the
    Oil-for-Food program. AWB connived at the theft of around $100 million dollars from money held in trust for the Iraqi people, handing some back to Saddam Hussein to finance (among other things) the purchase of weapons many of which are now being used by the insurgency and the purchase of political support through payments to the families of suicide bombers. Obviously this required AWB to deceive the United Nations, which it did,

    The Oil-for-Food program was designed to be subverted. Ditto Haliburton regime change. Both programs had to go through corrupt agencies (Baathist Iraqis, Republican Americans) to be effective. But both programs had good proximate effects. Oil for Food fed Iraqi children. Regime change deposed a fascist dictator. Bad means for good ends. Get over it, thats foreign policy in a world this side of the vale of tears.

    Pr Q says:

    Meanwhile the Australian government was engaged in multiple deceptions, including self-deceptions. It deceived the world, including the UN and the Americans by denying the accusations that were regularly made against AWB. Meanwhile an elaborate system of nods and winks ensured that, while fully aware that AWB was doing “whatever it took� to sell wheat to Saddam, could swear that they had never been told about the systemic bribery going on under their very noses.

    More seriously, while stating publicly that war was a last resort, which could be avoided as long as Saddam readmitted weapons inspectors, the Australian government was concealing inside knowledge that US policy was set on war regardless of the required pretext. The latest news indicates that this was the case well before July 2002, when the Downing Street memos recorded the fact.

    Correct. Howard is a blatant liar on delicate foreign policy or peripheral domesitic policy are concerned, But he has always maintained, or alluded, that right policy trumps true politics.

    Pr Q says:

    Now we learn that AWB was part of the inside team, informed of what was going on. This adds yet more layers. First, the legal fiction that the formal privatisation of AWB, with its government-enforced monopoly powers intact, made it a private organisation rather than a government instrumentality has been exposed as a sham. Clearly, the government is just as responsible for the actions of AWB as if they had been those of a government department (of course, with the death of the doctrine ministerial responsibility, that’s not saying much).

    More interestingly, AWB was presumably double-crossing its partners in crime on the Iraqi side, taking their money while well aware they were marked for destruction. Or perhaps favoured individuals were tipped off, and warned to prepare themselves for an accommodation with their new rulers – certainly some of them seem to have survived the downfall of the Baath regime with AWB help.

    Those AWB guys were real cowboys, BUt they were operating in an outlaw state. Anything goes so long as the wheat gets sold by Australia, Baathists get the kick-backs and iraqi children get the bread.

    Its surprising that anyone would be naive enough to expect clean hands when dealing with middle-eastern states. They are a cess-pool of political vice. ANyone taking the plunge into these polities is bound to emerge covered in filth.

    Multiculturalists take note.

    Pr Q says:

    Finally of course, there’s the massive deceptions being perpetrated by the Australian supporters of the Iraq war, nearly all of whom have backed the government to the hilt over its support for AWB (most others have maintained a discreet silence). In this context, I should exempt those who frankly present our participation in the war as a matter of self-interest in backing the Americans, while looking out for the largest possible cut of the spoils of war.

    That would be me. Not for one minute did I think Howard was participating in the CoW for any other reason than USA-AUS coalition foreign policy mutual back-scratching. You rub our Timor itch and we scratch your Iraqi rash. Thats the way our world works.

    Nor did I believe that the USA was invading Iraq to disarm it of WMDs. From 2002 onwards I was convinvced that the USA was invading Iraq because it had no WMDs. Regime change was a complement, not a substitute, for Baathist disarmaent.

    Pr Q says:

    But all those who’ve accused war opponents of being objectively pro-Saddam should recognise that the government they support has directly funded Saddam, and indirectly funded Hamas, and the current insurgency.

    The war party were fools to believe that the war was anything else than an excercise in power politics. And more fool for thinking that the Bush admin were competent Real Politicians. The whole exercise was botched in conception and bungled in execution.

    And a fool who does not acknowledge an error is a knave.

  4. “Oil for Food fed Iraqi children. Regime change deposed a fascist dictator. Bad means for good ends.”
    ummm, actually, oil for food fed saddam while the children died,
    and deposing a dictator – who was more military than fascist – could hardly now be called a good end,

    is it so hard for some people to see, that regardless of your general political leanings,
    the war on iraq was an unjustifiable war crime, commited with full complicity of our lying leader which has resulted in a sectarian bloodbath for which we all have some responsibility

  5. In regard to Professor Q’s comments that this latest information shows “AWB was part of the inside team, informed of what was going on. This adds yet more layers.”

    I notice that Michael Pascoe on Crikey has suggested for some time that people within AWB in Iraq also played a valuable spying role. The notion of ‘spies’ usually calls up images of James Bond, (and thus produces scoffs about conspiracy theories whenever it is raised), but the reality is usually much more mundane (and thus less precisely defined). Put simply, people on the ground provide information back to officials from their own nation – this doesn’t mean they are part of ASIO or ASIS, but it can mean they have wider roles and links than is assumed from their job descriptions.

    The very open comments by Ambassador Dauth not only suggest a plan to support a US invasion of Iraq formulated well in advance. It suggests that some AWB officials engaged in information exchanges with government officials about matters much wider than the state of the wheat market.

    The main reason why this is important in the current context is NOT so people can go on about spy fantasies – it is the potential for national security reasons to be used in regards to potential charges, trials and in particular what evidence is provided to them.

    Most people – often quite rightly – get very circumspect when matters that may genuinely impact on security and intelligence issues come up. Unfortunately, this also provides a massive ‘get out of jail free’ card (probably quite literally in some cases) when it comes to being able to cover up dodgy actvities or just non-intelligence information that you don’t want anyone to know about.

  6. Flugge. Trevor Flugge.

    Let’s hope he returned everything to ASIS Q Branch after being sent to Iraq on Ratty’s Secret Service.

    Oh, Trevor!

    *Roll credits*

  7. # smiths Says: November 24th, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    ummm, actually, oil for food fed saddam while the children died,

    That is just Howard-hating propaganda. Oil for Food was a corrupt aid program, the only possible kind in the militarised parts of the ME. And it succeeded in its aim. Malnutrition amongst Iraqi children rose after UN sanctions were applied. It declined in the last few years of the Baathist regime, largely thanks to the efforts of the corrupt Oil-for-Food agencies – including AWB. The war interrupted Oil for Food which has caused Iraqi child malnutrition to rise, as Lancet discovered.

    Machiavellian rules were working well enough in this instance. That is why Howard is not paying a political cost for his double dealing. Iraqi children got fed and Australian wheat growers got paid.

    deposing a dictator – who was more military than fascist – could hardly now be called a good end,

    Huseein was a fascist military dictator. You have to be ambivalent about his dictatrship. A fascist military dictator is prima facie evil. Democracy promoters, inlcluding Pr Q, must be glad that the political world is rid of him type. This is why some ideologically consistent left wing revolutionaries supported the war eg Hitchens.

    Yet the rancid and rancorous sectarian politics of Iraq now make him type look the lesser of two evils. That seems to be the default condition of ME political regimes: fascist tyranny alternating with fundamentalist anarchy.

    The US should have done the Machiavellian thing and struck a deal with Hussein, as we have now done with Gaddafi. Instead we did the utopian thing and tried turn a multi-ethnic dictatorship into a multicultural democracy.

    Domestic multiculturalists take note. Dont try to make them like us by making unwise invasions. And dont allow us to become like them by sending out unwise invitations.

    it so hard for some people to see, that regardless of your general political leanings, the war on iraq was an unjustifiable war crime, commited with full complicity of our lying leader which has resulted in a sectarian bloodbath for which we all have some responsibility.

    No, it is not hard for some Howard-supporters to see that the war on Iraq was a war-crime alright. This particular sometime Howard suporter tumbled to this truth within 36 hours of the invasion.

    And a sectarian bloodbath seems to have been on the Iraqi cards once the Baathist fascist dictatorship was removed. Again, this seems to be Iraq’s default position.

    Howard was complicit in this war crime. But he did not exacerbate it, since it was a done deal whether the ADF participated in the war or not. The ADF has probably reduced the level of sectarian bloodshed in its locale, thanks to professionalism by servicemen and the grelatively placid character of its mission. Howard has no doubt briefed them to stay low.

    Howard has so far gotten away with his complicity in this war crime because AUS’s policy of supporting the USA’s global war machine is generally in our national interest. It strenghthens the AUS-USA military alliance which gives us leverage over the USA whenever we need their help sorting out regional problems eg Timor-Indon.

    Once again, Machiavellian rules.

  8. Jack:

    The US should have done the Machiavellian thing and struck a deal with Hussein, as we have now done with Gaddafi. Instead we did the utopian thing and tried turn a multi-ethnic dictatorship into a multicultural democracy.

    The only bit of Jack’s analysis that doesn’t ring true is in there somewhere and involves the attribution of decent motives to a bunch of failed and stoopid would-be Machiavellians. That they’d have been laughed out of town by Nicolo himself doesn’t make them any less his acolytes and wannabes, useless little losers that they are.

    Their efforts might be called “utopian” only if your idea of a perfect world involves Israel ruling all it surveys around it, and steadily expanding its territory onto other people’s traditional lands, while the US with its OPEC partners in environmental crimes pump as much fossil SUV fuel as they possibly can. Closer to a dystopia envisioned, for mine.

  9. A conspiracy theory, then. As I expected – carry on.
    CL honestly this is really pathetic. People like you think that by uttering two words “conspiracy theory”, you’ve some how mastered the argument. Well I’m afraid you haven’t… because there is a simple two word rebuttal… coincident theory. CL you’re a coincident theorist… carry on.

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