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Pot Calling the Kettle: UN Decries Global Corruption

The United Nations says corruption is costing the global economy trillions. Oh, the irony!

There’s an old joke about African, Chinese, and Indian bureaucrats who walk into a bar. After conversing for a few minutes, they realize that they meet only after United Nations conferences. The Chinese civil servant suggests they come to his house after the next U.N. meeting. They agree, flying to Beijing and heading to his large and opulent living quarters. His guests are surprised by the size of his home, asking how he could afford such property on his government salary, to which he responds, “Well, did you see that new highway we drove on? I just took some money from the project and spent it on the house.” For the next couple of summits, the three friends visit their Indian friend’s manor and their African buddy’s home; they’re big and gorgeous, and they ask the same question. They provide the same answer: “Well, did you see that highway we drove on?” That’s the United Nations.

Corruption Calls Out Corruption

Recently, the U.N. warned that corruption is costing the global economy $3.2 trillion a year, up from $2.6 trillion in 2017. Citing world corruption indexes by Transparency International and Risk Advisory, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that fraud “robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources.”

The studies found that Africa and the Middle East were highly unscrupulous places, while crookedness in Asia and Latin America was ubiquitous. Researchers listed Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Turkmenistan as some of the “most corrupt” nations. Businesses tend to face “the biggest corruption challenges,” particularly companies that specialize in construction, energy, and infrastructure.

Central America is a region of the world where democratic norms are constantly under threat, the reports noted. For example, Guatemalan leadership is under fire for alleged cronyism, El Salvador is under perpetual “physical security risks” because of gangs, and Honduras attracts transnational criminal syndicates because they thrive in its corrupt environment.

Study authors identified the United States and Canada as the least corrupt.

“Both the U.S. and Canada have some of the most robust anti-corruption regimes in the world,” the report stated.

Irony Alert

While it is a good thing to call out the sleaze that is pervasive in the rest of the world, the irony seems to be lost on the U.N.

Let’s be candid: The U.N. is one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet. The international organization has seen its fair share of scandals over the years, from oil-for-food in Iraq to missing tsunami funds earmarked for Indonesia to rampant pedophiliac rape in Africa. The U.N. estimates that internal fraud sits at 0.3% of the budget, but observers say that figure is a lot higher.

Benon Sevan

Unfortunately, because of the U.N.’s “culture of impunity,” as many have referred to it, we are unsure just how prevalent the double-dealing is. As the years go by, it seems like everyone has a conflict of interest, a nepotistic overlap, or a financial connection. If someone is used as the fall guy, he or she is shipped back to some banana republic on a full U.N. pension.

A prime example of this was Benon Sevan. He was appointed in 1996 to run the Oil-for-Food program for six of its seven years. But under his watch, the initiative facilitated billions in kickbacks, payoffs, and sanctions-busting arms trafficking. An independent probe discovered that Sevan took $1.2 million from the budget, but rather than be punished for an awful act, he was sent to his homeland of Cyprus with a handsome pension. Sevan may have been just a fish in a vast ocean, but he was a symptom of a greater disease.

So, when the globalist entity spotlights the iniquities of a country, it is difficult to withhold laughter. The tidal wave of incidents suggests that swindling is embedded across the entire body, but whenever something is uncovered, we are encouraged to look the other way.

That said, the U.N. should be given some credit for implementing reforms throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Some of these changes consisted of whistleblower protection, enhanced monitoring of funds, and new oversight bodies. However, thanks to diplomatic immunity, clandestine operations, and layers of bureaucracy, it is hard to get to the bottom of anything to determine if these reforms have been effective.

A Love-Aid Relationship

The U.N. might be an easy punching bag, but the entire concept of foreign aid is one giant scam.

It seems every couple of months comes a report that highlights cases of fraud and how millions disappear. Recently, the U.S. Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that billions of dollars in Western foreign aid to Afghanistan were wasted. Corrupt local officials created “ghost workers,” which were bureaucrats, police officers, and soldiers who did not exist. The purpose was to record that the funds were paid to them, only for these odious wrongdoers to keep or divert the money. That wasn’t the worst of it. Budgets were approved to construct medical clinics without water, schools absent of children, and buildings that melted away in the rain.

Yet, neoconservatives and neoliberals insist that these reports are overblown and that foreign aid is a wise investment because it buys allies and assists with humanitarian causes.

Economist Charles Kenny told NPR:

“The evidence of the scope of corruption suggests it’s not a very big problem. It isn’t somehow a more fundamental problem than a number of other issues that poor countries face: poor health, limited access to finance, weak infrastructure.”

Others disagree, including Tom Dichter, who wrote an incredible and insightful April 2017 article in Quartz, titled “I’ve worked in foreign aid for 50 years—Trump is right to end it, even if his reasons are wrong.” He concluded that it isn’t even corruption that is the primary problem; it is the aim of aid that “has come up empty” due to a whole host of factors.

“The main reason there is so little change is that aid has become an industry, and is rapidly moving towards what a present day Eisenhower might call an ‘aid-industrial complex,’ an interlocking set of players (NGOs, government agencies, and private contractors, among others) who have largely closed off outside criticism and internal learning and become self-referential and entrenched. The main goal of this complex is to keep the money flowing.”

He cited one example that essentially confirmed the industry doesn’t know what it’s doing. Aid groups will try to convert sex workers into vendors without realizing that these women made more money in the sex trade than at any other job. So why would they quit selling their bodies for a higher price just to sell samosas for a lower income?

Coming to America’s Aid

Foreign aid can be summarized this way: Globalists take money from poor people in rich countries to give to wealthy individuals in impoverished nations. How many times will we learn that our finite tax dollars went to a corrupt African leader who used the money to purchase himself two mansions, three luxury vehicles, and dozens of Rolex watches, instead of buying grain for his people? This is the norm, not the exception.

Yet, now that President Donald Trump wants to cut funding to the U.N. and foreign aid, we are supposed to act like the former is a beacon of global stability and the latter is a perfect, unblemished concept. The president is vilified for wanting to end this charade and save Americans some money when he should be lauded for his efforts.

Until things change – and they won’t – the world will continue to spend precious resources, siphon off capital, and waste limited funds. No transparency, no accountability, no punishment – that’s the United Nations way.

~

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