Yes, nuclear proliferation is ugly stuff – but you might as well squeeze a few dollars from it, right? A smart guy always plays the angles – and, as the hero-worshiping American media never stop telling us, Rumsfeld is one smart guy.
In fact, he’s so smart that he’s now playing dumb. A Pentagon spokesman says Rumsfeld “can’t recall” discussing the Korean deal at ABB board meetings. And his erstwhile ABB corporate colleagues say that it’s possible the subject never came up. Of course it didn’t; going into the nuclear business with a Communist tyranny that very nearly launched a nuclear war against the West just four years before, in a deal that involved high-level negotiations with the governments of the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union – that’s certainly the kind of thing that would be handled by a couple of junior executives in a branch office somewhere. Nothing for the bigwigs – especially hard-wired government players like Rumsfeld – to trouble their pretty heads about. A perfectly reasonable explanation.
And so Rumsfeld joins the roster of Bush Regime boardroom honchos who once trumpeted their “business savvy” as selling points for their right to national leadership but now claim to have been “hands-off” figureheads who had no idea what their companies were up to. Bush, in his sinkhole of insider trading and stockholder scamming at Harken; Cheney, making fat deals with Saddam Hussein (yes, after the Gulf War) and muddying up the corporate books at Halliburton; Army Secretary Thomas White, gaming the power grid and stealing millions for Enron in the manufactured California “energy crisis” – all of them went from mighty moguls to mere “front men” the instant their corruption was brought to light. None of it was their fault; nothing ever is.
Whatever happened to Bush’s much-trumpeted “era of responsibility?” These guys are not only chiselers, hustlers, hypocrites and war profiteers – they’re a bunch of gutless wonders as well. So you’ll pardon us if we are just the tiniest bit cynical about the “moral arguments for war” and other such buckets of warm spit this gang is now forcing down the world’s throat.
And what became of that 1994 pact with North Korea? UN inspectors entered the country to make sure the weapons program was put on ice. Pyongyang signed a number of lucrative deals with various politically-connected Western firms, like ABB, to build the promised energy plants, while waiting for the normalization of relations with the United States to begin – a move which most observers thought would set North Korea on a course toward China-style “moderation” of its monolithic regime.
But normalization never came. Clinton, pressured by rightwing forces (such as Rumsfeld’s commission) who opposed any truck whatsoever with godless commies, did his usual folding number, with much windy suspiration of forced breath – and no action. The KEDO companies pocketed Pyongyang’s cash but dithered about the actual construction. Pyongyang – while not exactly a font of smiling cooperation itself – concluded that the pact was being deep-sixed. This suspicion was confirmed when Bush took office, calling Korean leader Kim Jong Il a “pygmy” and declaring the county part of the “Axis of Evil.”
Pyongyang then accelerated its weapons program, kicked out the UN inspectors, and is now threatening to unleash a nuclear war if Bush, a la Iraq, makes a “pre-emptive strike.”
A dicey situation, sure – but at least Don Rumsfeld made some money out of it.