I'm heartened to see the UN wasting no time following through on the preliminary findings of Paul Volcker's investigation of the Oil for Food Program. With the suspension of the two officials implicated for corruption and wrong-doing, Secretary-General Annan is acting responsibly to salvage the credibility and reputation of the UN in a role for which no other international organization, whether supra-national or non-governmental, has the necessary capacity.
In many respects this is no longer an energy issue, since Oil for Food ended with the US occupation of Iraq. Nor is there any meaningful way to compensate either the Iraqi people or the international community for the great harm committed through the subversion of this critical program. The key issue now is ensuring that future UN efforts on this scale, of which the coordination of tsunami relief is likely only the first example, are scrutinized much more carefully and held to higher standards.
Whether you think Mr. Annan acted from principle or under pressure, he deserves credit for doing the right thing here, and we should see further action following the internal administrative processes. The real test for Mr. Annan may come later, however, depending on how close to home Mr. Volcker's subsequent findings hit.
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