Last Wednesday, Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota and co-chairman of the U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq, called on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign in a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal. While Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China quickly rallied to Mr. Annan's defence, there can be no doubt that the senator is correct: Mr. Annan has to go. . . .
Over the decade-long run of the oil-for-food program, the UN and several member states looked on as Saddam Hussein siphoned off at least 20% of its $100-billion revenues for his personal use. Hundreds of millions went to rebuilding the Iraqi army; more was paid out in kickbacks to Western politicians, governments, political parties, journalists and UN officials who looked the other way. Tens of millions funded terrorist training and operations around the world, particularly among Palestinians. The grandiose, sprawling palaces U.S. troops discovered when they liberated Baghdad and other Iraqi cities were constructed by Saddam and his family with the proceeds from oil sales meant to pay for food and medicines for ordinary Iraqis. Critics of the American- and British-backed sanctions against Iraq that were in place from the early 1990s until the 2003 invasion claimed they were responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis per year through malnutrition and disease. But we now know it was Saddam's lust for gold plumbing fixtures and weapons that caused the lion's share of Iraqi hardship.
Under Mr. Annan's leadership, the UN feigned blindness to all this.