“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, April 21, 2003



Coups are expensive. As Jonathan Kwitney pointed out years ago, private enterprise and public governments often find pleasing compromises that allow them to go dutch on overturning third world governments and installing those pleasing puppets that age so badly in their baroque, disco palaces. It is a win win proposition - in the old days, you got staunch anti-communists, elected again and again by a wonderfully cooperative electorate, and you got sweet deals being cut that divvied up, in the most rational way, the natural resources to which the third world country was, by some mistake of providence, heir to.

One wonders how the INC in Iraq is being financed. We are suspicious that an exile Iraqi billionaire currently being held in an extradition trial in London, Nadhmi Auchi, might have some answers. The Observer has a wrap around bio of Auchi that reveals some interesting things. The man's main company is hq-ed in Luxemburg, natch: GenMed. We are being killed, in this century, by bland corporate acronyms. Auchi was connected, in some mysterious way, with the former meat machine tyrant of a Middle Eastern country -- guess which one. But Auchi claims, of course, that said Meat Machine turned against him and killed his brothers. However, Auchi, who turned up in Britain in the eighties, did not let family tragedy get in the way of peculative interests. He cut deals for Elf, and for other Euro petro companies, to get oil from Iraq -- and for himself he collected your average multi million dollar kickback. GenMed's main business, supposedly, is hospitality. In fact, Auchi's company just opened a swinging hot spot in Amman, Jordan. Auchi himself keeps to London. In his office hangs a painting of the House of Commons signed by such well wishers as Tony Blair. Blair's cabinet has a soft spot for the exiled Iraqi -- in fact, one sub minister was caught advising him on extradition matters vis a vis the French charge against him still on the docket there.

The Observer article doesn't touch on his connections with one Henry J. Leir. If you touch on that connection, you can get sued for libel, as Le Soir in Belgium found out. There is an article of mysterious provenance floating on the web none the less, in which it is claimed that Auchi was connected as an arms dealer with Leir. Leir, apparently, is golden: a major player in channeling enriched uranium to Israel -- again, for you libel lawyers out there, this is all wink wink. Leir endowed a chair at Tufts university in -- oh, spirit of the age -- peace, and seems to be an establishment figure in America -- but in Europe he has a different reputation. Denis Robert und Ernest Backes, two journalists, have written a book, Revelations, about the Leir/Auchi connection. Here's a short bio of Leir

Der Amerikaner Leir, 1900 als Heinrich Hans Leipziger in Oberschlesien (Beuthen, heute Bythom) geboren, 1933 nach Luxemburg, 1939 in die USA emigriert und nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg im Gefolge der Luxemburger Regierung nach Luxemburg zur�ckgekehrt, soll seit Ende des zweiten Weltkriegs entscheidenden Einfluss auf Politik und Wirtschaft des Gro�herzogtums genommen und dessen Integration in die Weltwirtschaft und Finanzwelt massgeblich gef�rdert haben. Henri J. Leir, der vor drei Jahren in New York starb, leitete jahrzehntelang von Luxemburg, New York und Lausanne aus seine vielf�ltigen Gesch�fte (Rohstoffe, Metalle, Waffen, Finanzen), die ihn schon in den 50er Jahren zu einem der reichsten M�nner der Welt machten. In enger Abstimmung mit dem politischen Establishment nutzte er Luxemburg als Basis und Sprungbrett f�r seine Gesch�fte. Es gelang ihm, das Land zu einem der verl�sslichsten europ�ischen Partner der USA zu machen. Die N�he sowohl zur republikanischen Partei in den USA wie auch zur Luxemburger Regierung und zum gro�herzoglichen Hof konnte er f�r sich und seine weitverzweigten Gesch�fte erfolgreich nutzen."

"The American Leir, born IN 1900 as Heinrich Hans Leipziger in Upper Schleswig, Beuthen, today Bythom, went to Luxemburg in 1933, emigrated to the US in 1939, and after the second world war returned with the returning Luxemburg government; since the end of the second world war he exerted a decisive influence on the politics and finances of the duchy. He facilitated its entry and integration into World business and Finance. Henry J. Leir, who died three years ago in New York, headed many companies for decades from New York, Luxemborg and Lausanne, in many areas (raw materials, metalls, weapons, finance), and by the fifties he was already one of the world's richest men. In close cooperation with the political establishment he used Luxemburg as a basis and diving board for his businesses. He succeeded in making the country one of the most trustworthy of America's partners. His nearness to the Republican party as to the Government of Luxemburg and the court of the duke he employed to the glory and success of his divergent businesses. "

A man who, one would assume, would shrink with horror from partnering with a minion of Saddam. Yet Auchi and Leir seemed to hit it off. Perhaps this is because Leir, and Luxemborg banks, have a long history of supping with various devils. Roberts' book reveals more than the machinations of Auchi in the present. Ernst Backes was a central figure, apparently, in the setting up of an international clearing house in Luxemborg. He was involved, for instance, in the transfer of seven million dollars from a private American bank to the national bank of Algeria in 1980, which was the basis for the arms for hostages deal cemented between Reagan and Iran.

So... our guess is that a lot of black money is flowing, at the moment, towards Iraq. And that Luxemburg is once again the happy middle man turning black to white. Let freedom ring.

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