Wednesday, December 28, 2005

An Interesting Bit...

From Mark Steyn's mailbag:

Just having read your column " The tsunami, one year on ", on the ineffectiveness of the UN in the tsunami relief business, reminded me a a story in the local (Dubai) newspaper last month. Apparently some UN bigwig complained that the Gulf States hadn't donated their fair share for the Kashmir earthquake relief. The next day, the paper (Gulf News) had an indignant response from the local Red Crescent that UAE had donated $100,000,000 directly to the Pakistani relief agencies. It seems the UN asked for $35,000,000 for the privilege of donating through them, for overheads.

So now you know where 35% of the tsunami billions went...

Glen Williams
Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Blogger Duck said...

Overheads? Is that slang for "bribes"?

December 28, 2005 8:26 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Not really, Duck, or at least not necessarily. I can't say too much, but I am currently involved in a case involving a UN employee. You wouldn't believe the --ahem--employment conditions.

The other great boondoggle is NATO. I have no doubt that NATO has survived well beyond its sell-by date because there are thousands of Western military types on secondment in Brussels who churn out well-crafted memos directed back home about how essential it all is. There is no way they would give up that pot of gold without screaming and kicking.

December 29, 2005 3:05 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Having been part of NATO back in the day, I think you are largely correct.

It certainly has outlived its sell-by date, because its raison d etre has so comprehensively collapsed.

I was in Europe at the time. All my fighter pilot buddies realized what a great gig we had, and jokingly figured that if it was a problem of money with the Soviets, there wasn't any reason we shouldn't shovel the odd billion or two under the wall to keep it all going.

Emphasis on jokingly, of course.

No doubt there is the sinecure as aspect to NATO's continued existence. But I don't think that explains it all. Europe's history is so awful that all the European countries I can think of want NATO to stay because they don't trust themselves.

Which probably also accounts for the waiting list of countries to join.

Just like the stridently anti-religion stance of some European countries, which is blamed on an excess of rationalism, but is really rooted in the 100-Year war, NATO is still around for more than just the expense accounts.

But maybe not a lot more.

December 29, 2005 3:54 AM  

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