Friday, June 04, 2004

The reality of Bout - more horror in a place that has plenty

Well, it would appear that some of the content of the alleged Ruprah-FBI correspondence has been borne out by events. The documents IPIS Research claim to have obtained include references to a planned deal to produce currency for the RCD-Goma rebels in eastern Congo in exchange for diamonds. Now, Air AK47 would not be getting involved there for the first time. Multiple sources report that various Bout operations were involved at various times in the war there, importing guns and exporting minerals in return. It has been alleged that one of the Bout operations was involved in arming the Rwandan militias. Now, the UN-arranged truce between numerous warring factions seems about to collapse with news of a new offensive by an outfit called the RCD Goma against the town of Bukavu. Link RCD stands for Rassemblement pour le Congo Democratique, a name that recalls the old crack about the Organisation of African Unity - it wasn't united, organised or African, so the only true word in the title was "of". It is one of several front organisations or puppet armies established by Rwanda to control its gains in eastern Congo after the (supposed) withdrawal of its own forces. The addition of the town of Goma to the name shows something of the constant factionalism among these groups. Since the 1996 invasion, they must have gone through a good five or six proxies. As the political background is much the same, with the Rwandans still fearful of the ex-interahamwe they chased into the interior coming back and no working government in Congo to control them, to say nothing of the self-interest of their army, it's no surprise that the policies have been much the same.

This area of the world has been something close to hell in the last few years. Its inhabitants have suffered war, genocide, epidemics, exploitation, civil war, volcanic eruption, rape and cannibalism. Without the privatised war structure afforded by Air AK - the ability to export minerals and import arms - little of this could have happened, and certainly it could not have been sustained as long. So - what is the overriding reason to deal with these people?

Was it deniability? Surely, though, an operation to support the Northern Alliance in late 2001 would have barely needed it. Everybody except the enemy agreed! Bush had (in case we forget) declared a war on terrorism, and everyone knew it would start in Afghanistan. So - why get involved with a bunch of dangerous gun runners, running the risk of blowback and double-crossing, not to mention really bad publicity? I'm beginning to think that the real reason may lie in the conservative revolutionism of the Bush team. All must be changed! Neo-conservatism rules! Bush has, I see, hired a lawyer to advise him on the Valerie Plame case. The man he chose, James E. Sharp, also defended the Iran-Contra men. It seems to me that many in the current US government see it necessary and good to restore the amoral freedom of action the CIA enjoyed in Southeast Asia in the 60s or Latin America in the 70s. Covert action is in. Congressional oversight is out. The same pattern is visible in the background to the torturers of Abu Ghraib, with its organisational links back to Don Rumsfeld's private intelligence staff in the Office of Special Plans. The neo-cons are the political heirs to the true believers of the cold war, and one thing they share is their covert-action fascination. There is no Air America these days, so someone else had to be found.

Thanks to "a source" for putting me on to the Congo story.

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