Trade Resource Center, Update, Part II
World Policy Institute
Table of Contents:
I. Donald Rumsfeld, Matinee Idol or Liar-in-chief?
Disarming Sierra Lenoe
III. Al Qaeda And The DRC
Donald Rumsfeld, Matinee Idol or Liar-in-chief?
Just when you thought the press coverage of the Bush
administration's war on terrorism couldn't get more
surreal, along came the Wall Street Journal.
In a December 31st essay in the newspaper's "Leisure
and Arts" section, journal editorial board member
Claudia Rosett described Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld's press briefings on the war in Afghanistan
as "the best new show on television."
Rosett enthusiastically cites CNN's description
of Rumsfeld as a "virtual rock star" and Fox
News' description of the Pentagon chief as "a babe
magnet for the 70-year old set," but argues that
"in recent weeks, the geriatric qualifiers have
pretty much faded away, and in print and on the
air, we've been hearing about Donald Rumsfeld, sex symbol,
the new hunk of home-front air time."
There's obviously no accounting for tastes, but it is
interesting to probe the roots of Rosett's attraction
to America's warmaker-in-chief. First and foremost,
she argues "the world loves a winner," and
in her view the rout of the Taliban by U.S. and Northern
Alliance forces in Afghanistan qualifies Rumsfeld for
that status. In addition, she claims that
"the basic source of Rumsfeld's charm is that he
talks straight." On this score, Rosett cites with
approval Rumsfeld's statement that the goal of the U.S.
war effort is "to capture or kill all the Al Qaeda."
Ms. Rosett is so smitten with Rumsfeld's performances
that she actually suggests that "if you don't own
a TV I'd suggest buying one just to watch
Leaving aside the strong possibility that Rumsfeld's
alleged sex appeal is evidence of a rare strain of war
fever that has infected certain regions of the American
body politic, you have to admit there's something interesting
and different about his public relations strategy.
Unlike most public figures these days who tend to dance
around issues in the hopes of coming across as likeable,
Rumsfeld likes to go on the attack, using preemptive
verbal strikes to disarm, befuddle, and intimidate his
questioner, even as he manages to come across as an
may relish "straight talk" about "killing"
Al Qaeda members, but as media critic Norman Solomon
has noted ("The Discreet Charm of the Straight
Spin," January 4, 2002, available on Commondreams.org),
Rumsfeld has been loathe to deal seriously with the
question of civilian deaths caused by U.S. bombing raids
in Afghanistan. From the outset Rumsfeld and his official
spokespersons have reacted harshly to questions about
civilian casualties, alternating between blaming them
on the Taliban, or claiming that the Afghan sources
reporting the bombing deaths are unreliable, or stating
that they picked the target based on "solid intelligence,"
or simply stating that in the fog of war it's hard to
really know for sure who killed whom using what.
Even as he warns his critics to be cautious about making
claims about civilian casualties, Rumsfeld himself shows
no such restraint as he repeatedly makes blanket statements
such as the following "I can't imagine there's
been a conflict in history where there has been less
collateral damage, less unintended consequences."
report from the Project on Defense Alternatives, "Operation
Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing
Casualties, " contradicts Rumsfeld's claim, noting
that the number of civilians killed by U.S. bombs in
Afghanistan to date is at least 900 to 1,500, a figure
two to three times as high as the civilian casualty
rate during the NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo, with
a fatality rate per bomb dropped four times higher than
the Kosovo conflict.
Reasons cited for the higher civilian death rate
included a greater percentage of unguided bombs used
in Afghanistan, the targeting of residential areas in
efforts to hit Taliban leadership, and "reliance
on intelligence from local sources who were at times
less than trustworthy."
PDA study makes a more conservative estimate of civilian
bombing deaths than a recent report by Professor Marc
Herold of the University of New Hampshire, who used
press accounts to assemble an estimate of over 3,700
civilian casualties as of mid-December. But don't expect Rumsfeld to respond seriously
to either report-- according to a January 16th piece
in the Los Angeles Times by military expert William
Arkin, neither the Pentagon, nor the Air Force, nor
the U.S. intelligence community are planning to take
a close look at the issue of civilian casualties in
their forthcoming studies of U.S. military performance
in Afghanistan (Arkin's article, "Fear of Civilian
Deaths May Have
Undermined Effort," Los Angeles Times, January
16, 2002, actually presents arguments from U.S. military
personnel who argue that fear of civilian casualties
at the top may have undermined the effectiveness of
the U.S. bombing campaign).
when human rights groups, U.S. allies in Europe, and
UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson raised questions
about Rumsfeld's decision to treat Taliban and Al Qaeda
captives as "unlawful combatants" who are
not entitled to the rights granted to prisoners of war
under the Geneva Conventions and to house them in chain
link cages, he brushed off the criticism. Rumsfeld argued that the makeshift prison camp at Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba was "not a country club," but that
it was better than the conditions they had experienced
Rumsfeld's depiction of the Pentagon's budget for the
war on terrorism has been equally misleading. After spending the first nine months of 2001 arguing that he
was going to "transform" the U.S. military
by canceling or cutting back obsolete systems to forge
a quicker, more mobile force, Rumsfeld's budgets for
this year and next have managed to retain every major
weapons program that was in the pipeline when he came
into office, including nuclear attack submarines, heavy
destroyers, the 70-ton Crusader artillery system, and
the $200 billion per copy F-22 fighter plane, all of
which were designed to fight heavily armored Soviet
forces, not the terrorists and so-called "rogue
regimes" that are the Pentagon's current enemies
of choice. These Cold War relics will neither "transform"
the U.S. military nor prove particularly useful in fighting
terrorism, but don't expect Donald Rumsfeld to admit
As Paul Krugman of the New York Times noted in his January
15th column "Crony Capitalism," Rumsfeld's
decision to save the Crusader system from the budget
ax directly benefited his old college roommate and wrestling
partner Frank Carlucci, whose Carlyle Group investment
company owns United Defense, the manufacturer of the
Crusader. Carlyle, which also employs former Secretary
of State James Baker and former President George Herbert
Walker Bush, took United Defense public late last year
and raised over $200 million in capital in the process. Suggestions that Rumsfeld may have cut
a deal to help an old buddy (not to mention the company
that employs our current president's father) have been
met with the argument that Don Rumsfeld just doesn't
do that kind of thing.
After a particularly harsh grilling at the hands of
Rumsfeld while she was attempting to interview him,
Newsweek reporter Lally Weymouth tried to flatter him
by noting that she had been at a New York cocktail party
recently where people were saying he was "the new
Gary Cooper" (the star of the 1950s classic "High
Noon"). If I had to pick a movie or TV star to
compare Rumsfeld to, I'd look elsewhere, to the compulsive
liar played by Jon Lovitz in his old Saturday Night
The only difference is that Rumsfeld is so much
better at distorting the truth - with thousands of lives
and billions of dollars on the line -- that somehow
it's just not funny.
Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher Rate of Civilian Bombing
Casualties,"Project on Defense Alternatives, January
18, 2002 www.comw.org/pda/0201oef.html
the best recent article in the mainstream press on the
influence of the Carlyle Group, see Mark Fineman, "Arms
Buildup Enriches Firm Staffed by Big Guns," Los
Angeles Times, January 10, 2002, available at www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/1a-011002carlyle.story
analysis of the impact of the war on terrorism on human
rights practices around the world, see Human Rights
Watch World Report 2002, available at www.hrw.org
Disarming Sierra Lenoe
The brutal ten-year war in Sierra Leone is finally over,
according to the head of the United Nations Mission
in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), General Daniel Opande.
More than 45,000 combatants from the RUF, Kamajors
and Armed Forces Revolutionary Council have handed over
their arms. More
former fighters handed over their weapons than was expected.
In the last few days, hundreds of former RUF have handed
over their weapons in the eastern region, the center
of diamond mines and the site of
intense fighting for the past decade.
Additionally, the UN has been preparing to assist Sierra
Leone with the creation of a special war crimes court
to try those responsible for at least 50,000 deaths
and the internal and external displacement of over half
of the population. Although the international community has been responding positively
to peaceful developments in Sierra Leone, the UN is
seeking close to $20 million in contributions to allow
for the war crimes court to operate for the next three
The international community is not only key to establishing
a strong criminal court, they also are crucial in supporting
a successful electoral process scheduled in May of 2002. The extremely positive developments in
Sierra Leone may lead the international community to
that all is well in the country. The U.S. and Britain want to turn their
attention elsewhere as the "war on terrorism"
UNAMSIL is the largest and most expensive peacekeeping
force currently deployed by the UN.
The U.S. and Britain would like Sierra Leone
elections as soon as possible giving them an excuse
to encourage a downsizing of UN forces and reduce foreign
But lingering RUF soldiers and members of the RUF who
are attempting to form a political party pose a serious
threat of destabilization during elections.
The RUF became infamous for its brutality during
the ten-year war including forced amputations, and widespread
rape as a weapon
of war. Some members of the RUF are demanding the release
of their imprisoned leader Foday Sankoh. They claim there will be no peace until
Sankoh is released. Many RUF fighters have not participated in the disarmament
process and remain present particularly in the northeastern
region of the country. There also remains the threat that Liberian
President Charles Taylor will arm and encourage the
of remaining RUF forces, continuing his close relationship
with the brutal group.
The lingering presence of violent rebels in the country
has caused many civil society groups alarm. Therefore local human rights organizations are urging the government
to postpone the election to allow for a substantial
period and peace and stability to develop. As such there is a conflict of interest
between an international community eager to end its
commitment in Sierra Leone and civil society that is
determined not to repeat the mistakes of the 1996 elections. The rushed 1996 elections which ultimately
ousted the military government led to the most violent
years of war as the RUF amputated hands of civilians,
brutally discouraging votes for current President Tejan
Kabbah. Soon after the elections, the RUF organized
Operation No Living Thing, effectively devastating the
Although there has been tremendous progress in Sierra
Leone's transition to peace, the international community
must be acutely aware of the dangers of assuming peace
transpires overnight. They must continue to positively assist
Sierra Leone. Ten years of war does not end
in a day.
Crisis Group reports on Sierra Leone: www.crisisweb.org
United Nations Mission In Sierra Leone: www.un.org/Depts/dpko/unamsil/body_unamsil.htm
III. Al Qaeda And The DRC
Although illicit mineral trading has substantially contributed
to the devastation of the Democratic Republic of Congo
for years, the U.S. is finally taking notice of its
negative effects. Yet the Bush Administration is not focusing
its concern on the over three million deaths suffered
by the Congolese, the widespread threat of famine and
the absence of available health care. The Bush Administration is reacting to
reports that Congolese diamonds have been used to fund
Al Qaeda, failing to recognize the American and European
role in developing and sustaining the 'Wild West' environment
in which illicit trading of diamonds and other precious
minerals is sustained. Al Qaeda is not alone it its efforts to
take advantage of the absence of rule of law in order
to benefit tremendously from the widespread exploitation
of Congo's natural wealth. Recently, the independent research institute International
Peace Information Service released a report entitled
Supporting the War Economy in the DRC: European Companies
and the Coltan Trade.
The report details partnerships between Rwanda, Uganda
and associated rebel groups with European companies
to sustain the war effort in the DRC.
"The private sector plays a vital role in
the continuation of the war by facilitating the exploitation,
transport and marketing of Congo's natural
resources." The continuation of the war presents
terror networks such as Al Qaeda with the opportunity
to profit alongside the Europeans, Americans,
Israelis, Arabs, and Asians.
Just as 9/11 attack brought attention to the suffering
of the Afghan people, Al Qaeda activity in the DRC is
bringing attention to its chaotic condition.
The enrichment of terrorist networks is simply
a by-product of this condition. In a recent Washington Post article, "Diamonds
in the Rough, and More, Found at Chic Hotel,"
The Grand Hotel, a prominent hotel located in
the capital Kinshasa is described as "a
bad acid trip." "The boutiques that line the
hotel's tiled hallways offered fashionable lingerie
from Paris, imported whiskeys and thelatest electronic
The few shoppers were the elite of the city: senior
army officers from Angola, generals from Zimbabwe, Ukrainian
mercenaries, Spanish diamond dialers and Kinshasa's
most expensive hookers. "You can say that Kinshasa is truly
a melting pot of capitalism," said a European diplomat.
"You have Lebanese diamond dealers working with
Israeli diamond buyers.
You have all the major powers, all of Africa,
and the North
Koreans and Chinese all doing business here. It is pure, brutal capitalism."
As long as it is internationally acceptable to
go to the Grand
Hotel to shop for "diamonds, weapons or a new pair
of sunglasses," agents of Al Qaeda will continue
shopping alongside western businessmen and
enjoying the fruits of capitalism.
If the U.S. would like to end Al Qaeda's dependence
on Congolese diamonds, the Bush Administration should
address the urgent need for massive humanitarian aid
to build an infrastructure that has been devastated
by years of war. Stability in the DRC could lure miners and traders
into legitimate trade. But as long as smuggling is the most lucrative business in
the 'lawless' DRC, Al Qaeda will have continued access
to the country's abundant wealth.
the War Economy in the DRC: European Companies and the
Coltan Trade www.broederlijkdelen.be/publicaties/coltan14-1.doc
Farah, "Diamonds in the Rough, and More, Found
at Chic Hotel," Washington Post, January 6, 2002.
Frida Berrigan, Research Associate,
World Policy Institute
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