WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The other day, while happily contemplating the corruption that is turning up at the United Nations, my plans to contemplate what it all means were disrupted by a telephone call from a college student in tears.
No, it was not a young man in tears, but a young woman -- and so you will understand why I packed away the stories of corruption in the United Nations. Reporters at The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere have found that Saddam was paying off world leaders -- one being a powerful bureaucrat at the United Nations -- with billions of dollars skimmed from the famed oil-for-peace program. This, along with mounting evidence that the Europeans were prospering handsomely by supplying arms to Saddam and any other well-heeled tyrant, might explain why "world opinion" was so opposed to our invasion of Iraq. Documents in Baghdad amount to a veritable corpus delicti.
Yet there will always be time to ventilate the misbehavior of the hypocrites at the United Nations and in foreign capitals. For now, I have my troubled young friend to contend with. She is a student finishing a college degree on a major American college campus, and her recent experience reminds me of a matter that has fetched my attention frequently of late -- to wit, many college students do not have much to them. In a word, many are vacuous.
My friend had been visiting with some male and female friends in her off-campus apartment. The friends were slow to leave as the evening dragged on, and so she went to bed, expecting them -- all good friends -- to depart soon after she disappeared. When she awoke the next morning, she found one of the young men had drunk his way through the night in her living room, watching DVDs and emptying her refrigerator. By 9:00 a.m., he was stupefied and mildly abusive but otherwise preparing to drink his way through the day. My friend sent him packing, but she was deeply troubled and I suspect alarmed. She had never seen the young man act that way before.
I guess this is what is called "binge drinking," and apparently there is a lot of it on college campuses nowadays. When I was a student in the 1960s, I knew of students who drank their way through the weekend and would sozzle themselves on an occasional weeknight. That was a lot of drinking, but apparently students today drink with even more abandon. On college campuses, there is not much more to do. Rendering oneself comatose is the most interesting pursuit available.