IN THE fading light of Kofi Annan's tenure as a "reform" secretary general, super sleuth Paul Volcker has made plain that Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athi regime plundered the Oil for Food program. Oil for Food was touted as a humanitarian benefice, entrusted to the United Nations. But an inquiry headed by Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Board chairman, has shown without a doubt that Saddam shaped the program to deliver kickbacks and surcharges, converting coercive economic sanctions into a global ATM. The UN also gained a tempting "administrative" surcharge from Saddam's oil sales, and no one inside Turtle Bay was willing to blow the whistle on a program gone haywire. Volcker and his colleagues have called for the reform of UN practices to prevent similar mismanagement.
But conservatives and liberals alike must recognize that internal reform is unlikely. Senator Norm Coleman can seek dues-withholdings. State and federal grand juries may add some froth and frisson to the usual conversations in the staff cafeteria. A tough-minded U.S. ambassador can make an impression on the 38th floor.