NK: Cash for Kim

Another Kofi Annan scandal

Whatever the motive, the Cash for Kim scandal is one more blot on the record of former Secretary General Kofi Annan. It also raises questions about the role played in North Korea by Maurice Strong, the Canadian who was Mr. Annan’s envoy to Pyongyang.

We’d feel a lot better if the U.N. had quickly responded to U.S. queries and tried to get to the bottom of the mess at UNDP. But the exchange of letters between U.S. Ambassador Mark Wallace and UNDP officials described by Ms. Kirkpatrick is certainly reminiscent of the early U.N. stonewalling on Oil for Food.

Mr. Wallace and his colleagues from other nations on the UNDP executive board are right to demand a stop to the program and an independent investigation. The U.N.’s new Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, could make his own early mark by calling for a probe as part of a new era of U.N. transparency. Democrats in Congress could also be constructive by insisting on accountability, especially given how much stock they put in a competent U.N. to promote American security.

One lesson of Oil for Food, and its failure to lead to any serious reform, is that to some foreign policy elites there can be no such thing as a U.N. “scandal.” That’s because for them the U.N. is all about good intentions, and the hopes and dreams for peace, rather than about actual results. But it is precisely that forbearance that has allowed too many dictators to exploit the U.N. for their own purposes, and has brought Turtle Bay to its current low ebb. Getting to the bottom of Cash for Kim is one more chance to make the U.N. shape up, and to stop financing a global menace in the bargain.