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“It's time to stand up - not to cheer, but to fight back.”
--Senator Russ Feingold, On Executive Power. (Daily Kos, 2006-02-02)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Yet another failure of US intelligence and diplomacy

On October 27th, 2006 President Bush signed yet another Executive Order that once again clearly demonstrates why America needs a complete change of leadership. This Executive Order seemed straight forward enough, freezing the assets of “war lords and arms dealers” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One man, General Laurent Nkunda is singled out for particular attention and reveals the scope and depth of the breakdown of the American intelligence and diplomatic network. We must also never forget that an Executive Order from President Bush that gives him powers under the National Emergencies Act, can never be accepted as straight forward.

Most Americans know very little about the situation in the east of the DR Congo. According to the UN many very large American, British and German multinational companies have played an active, critical role in supplying arms and supporting many of the government and armed militias ability to carry out significant human rights abuses in this part of the world for many years. The international news media for its part will only print or report about stories in the DR Congo that confirm how the east of this country is a “lawless” place where people die. The last UN Human Rights Report, for the month of September 2006, reveals that the Integrated National Army of the DR Congo is the main perpetrator of the more than 60 Human Rights violations registered during that month. There were no violations attributed to the forces of General Nkunda.

So why did President Bush choose this moment in time to view General Nkunda as “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” This is the same President Bush who prides himself on being tough on terror and national security issues and who has been conspicuous by his total lack of concern for the results of the UN report implicating many well known multinational American, British and German firms in engaging in arms for minerals deals in the east of the DR Congo that have continued for at least the last 10 years. The timing of this Executive Order when there are no ongoing armed hostilities in General Nkunda’s area and coming so close to the American midterm elections, appears to reflect that intelligence is once again being used for partisan American political purposes. Over the last few months General Nkunda has expressed his heartfelt belief that there has in fact been far too much death and dying in his country and was willing to engage in discussions to resolve any outstanding issues. A reasonable American who has witnessed the unnecessary death and dying in Iraq must therefore conclude that President Bush’s Executive Order is more clearly linked to American domestic politics in the run up to the US mid term elections next week than to any US security threat posed by General Nkunda.

The reality of the situation on the ground in the east of the DR Congo is that there is a continuing human tragedy that needs to be addressed in a comprehensive manner if economic freedom and prosperity is ever to come to this very troubled yet exceedingly beautiful land. America needs to be part of the process of developing economic and political solutions for the east of the DR Congo. The last thing the east of the DR Congo needs is instability that is driven by an American Presidents need to retain his majority in Congress.

General Nkunda is quite open in his willingness to discuss how investment and diplomacy can be utilized to help restore lasting peace in the DR Congo. The failure of American intelligence and diplomacy experts to be willing to consider any other option than the Iraq model of “sanctions turning into American military intervention” leads a reasonable American to conclude that we need a complete change of direction for America. The Bush/Rice Foreign Policy reality is to lead America into an endless series of hopeless Vietnam style quagmires much like what we are witnessing in Iraq. As Americans, are we willing to accept a continuation of the DR Congo tragedy so President Bush can retain his majority in Congress?

To help us understand how far we as a country have fallen from our ability to lead the world through diplomacy, let us compare the visions for America of President Bush and President Kennedy. Present Bush finds “threats” and National Security emergencies that require sanctions and military action when others are asking for a diplomatic solution. President Bush expresses his vision for America as an endless number of people and situations that “…constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” President Kennedy referred to his vision for our nation with these words, “We are always conscious of the obligation which rests upon all members of the United Nations to seek peaceful solutions to problems of this sort.”

I hope that we as Americans have had enough of these constant “threat” declarations that are based on faulty intelligence and diplomacy. We are a nation of diplomacy and peace that has never been afraid to use force as a last resort and when necessary, but how many more American soldiers need to needlessly die in places like the east of the DR Congo or Iraq before we are willing to elect leaders who are not afraid to use diplomacy more often than sanctions and military force.

This current Executive Order can only be termed another failure of the US diplomatic and intelligence communities. President Bush by unilaterally and preemptively issuing his Executive Order before even attempting to discuss other options has once again chosen to lead America on a path toward instability and less security at home and in places like the DR Congo and Iraq. Places that have only known instability, death and dying for far too many years.
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Background Links:
Link to the Executive Order
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061031-2.html
Link to the Monuc (UN) Monthly Human Rights Assessment: September 2006
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