September 13, 2005

Spoiling The U.N. Party

Claudia's back, at NRO, explaining how the timing of the 60th birthday party for the U.N. could have been better:

There are by now too many signs that under Annan's stewardship the U.N. has already partied quite enough. President Bush owes it to his own constituents — who are not foreign heads of state, but American voters and taxpayers — to pull the punchbowl. Scandals at the U.N. have proliferated to where they need cross-indexing simply to keep track of, from incompetence to theft to bribery to money-laundering to rape — in (mix and match) New York, Geneva, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, and West Africa, to name just the short list of recent examples. In an 847-page report last week, Paul Volcker's U.N.-authorized probe into Oil-for-Food disclosed findings of corruption, waste, and top-level incompetence, all bathed in a "pervasive culture of responsibility avoidance and resistance to accountability." Annan, as he has done with U.N.-observed genocide in Rwanda and Srebenica, promptly took "responsibility" — though what that means in practice, as he parties right on, is anyone's guess.

Nor is Volcker's investigation over. Next month he is expected to report on the widespread corruption among the thousands of companies that did business with Saddam Hussein's regime, via the U.N., under the 1996-2003 Oil-for-Food program. There could be more than a little embarrassment there for some of the heads of state now gathered for the festivities in New York. Saddam threw well-padded business to his pals, in places such as Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, and especially among veto-wielding Security Council members France, Russia, and China — all of whom in 2002 and early 2003 opposed the U.S. and U.K. arguments for enforcing the U.N.'s own resolutions against Saddam. Annan had access at the time to the U.N.'s trove of confidential information confirming many specifics of this targeted and tainted trade carried out under the U.N.'s corrupted program. Had he spoken up then, to protect the integrity of the U.N.'s own operations and debates, he might enjoy some credibility today. He said nothing.

Posted by dan at September 13, 2005 3:46 PM