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Sept. 15: An evening with Paul Volcker

Lecture by Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee into the U.N. Oil for Food Program, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve

When: Thursday 15 September, 8:00-9:30 PM

Where: DePauw University Performing Arts Center, Moore Theatre

Paul Volcker's widely anticipated report about the abuses of the UN's "oil-for-food" program for Iraq (1991-2003) has been released. Critics of the UN (many of them Americans who support the invasion of Iraq and feel the UN was an obstacle to deposing Saddam) can quote plenty of lurid examples of corruption and malfeasance from the report. The report does say that the program worked to ease the suffering of Iraqi people; and as James Traub wrote in the New Republic in February, the program was designed for political reasons, to maintain support on the UN Security Council for the sanctions on Saddam, and in that sense the program worked relatively well. The criticisms of UN secretary general Kofi Annan in the report are for his acts of omission rather than comission, for his poor oversight rather than his personal corruption. (Annan's son benefited from the program, but not apparently because of any strings his father pulled ... ask members of the Bush family about how possessing a powerful dad seems to open doors as if by magic.) The Economist calls it "a fair-minded report at a crucial time": a round of negotiations over UN reform starts next week, and this report certainly highlights the urgency of making major changes. It's interesting that the report that criticizes his management of the UN thus strengthens the hand of Kofi Annan, the most vocal proponent of meaningful reform ever to head the UN.

For more information about the oil-for-food program, go here. For a copy of the report, go here. Want a chance to hear Paul Volcker talk about "Ethics and Leadership"? Go to DePauw on September 15 at 8:00 PM.

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