No one is ever asked to resign for wrongdoing at the United Nations. Indeed, since Minnesota Sen. Norman Coleman suggested that the secretary general should fall on his sword for presiding over the Oil-for-Food scandal, there has been a positive rush of diplomats and governments from all over the world to his defense. . . .

Americans tend to be baffled by these reactions. They look at the multiplying scandals around the United Nations and wonder how the man in charge can avoid being held responsible for any of it by other countries.

But the explanation is simple: Kofi Annan is the symbol of the United Nations’ lack of accountability. He is never held responsible for what goes wrong, because the United Nations is never held responsible, either. It sails in a cloud of noble idealism over the actual failures, hypocrisy, corruption and outright criminality that attend some U.N. actions on the ground below.

And there is a polite consensus outside the United States not to notice the glaring contradictions between idealism and reality. Too many influential people and institutions have invested too much in the United Nations and the U.N. system to see its flaws clearly.

Indeed. The U.N. needs to be either fixed, or crippled so thoroughly that it can no longer harm U.S. interests in the slightest. Whether it is aware of it or not, the “international community” seems to be opting for number two.