Volcker recently waved aside concerns about his leadership of UNA-USA. ?It was not a particularly active relationship, to say the least,? he told reporters. ?I have not attended a meeting of the organization for the last two years.? But it?s difficult to believe that someone who?s worked to improve American perceptions of the U.N. would be eager to seek out and publicize the sordid details of Oil-for-Food.
Volcker and his organization also have close ties to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In fact, UNA-USA is already defending him. The organization has already assured us that the investigation ?will be objective, thorough and fair.? It also criticizes what it calls ?politically motivated attacks? on Annan, and claims they ?constitute an effort to undermine the U.N., which is a real objective for many of those who are distorting the facts on this complex issue.? With comments like that, it?s no wonder Annan selected Volcker to lead the Oil-for-Food investigation.
When Kissinger was appointed to the original 9/11 commission, The New York Times editorialized, ?It is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed. It seems improbable to expect Mr. Kissinger to report unflinchingly on the conduct of the government, including that of Mr. Bush. He would have to challenge the established order and risk sundering old friendships and business relationships.?
Well, Volcker has all those problems, and more. He?s long backed Annan and remains a staunch supporter of the United Nations. So when Volcker recently told the Times that his investigation hasn?t found a ?smoking gun,? it?s fair to ask whether that?s because there isn?t a smoking gun, or because Volcker simply doesn?t want to find one.
The world needs a complete investigation of Oil-for-Food. We need to find out what went wrong, so we can punish the guilty and ensure that future humanitarian efforts, like the ongoing tsunami relief, succeed. Unfortunately, we can?t count on getting a fair hearing from the Volcker Committee, because his clear conflict of interest has left the lead investigator with egg on his face.