Monthly Archives: December 2008

More history of U.S. foreign policy

Check out the National Security Archive website today

Today the National Security Archive announces the publication of a comprehensively unique, thoroughly-indexed set of the telephone conversation (telcon) transcripts of Henry A. Kissinger, one of the most famous and controversial U.S. diplomats of the second half of the 20th century.  Consisting of 15,502 documents and over 30,000 pages, this on-line collection, published by the Digital National Security Archive (ProQuest)is the result of a protracted effort by the National Security Archive to secure this critically important record of U.S. diplomacy during the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford, when Kissinger served as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State. 


BBC:   UN envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has said there is a “hidden genocide” taking place in the country.

Human Rights Watch has the stories of some who’ve fled in this report: So Much to Fear.

Couple more Congo links

Lydia Polgreen in the NYT today on rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

And for great info on the broader picture in the DRC check out this Human Rights Watch backgrounder and especially the recent and substantial and sobering HRW report: “We Will Crush You.”


Who knew? The Office of the Historian at the State Department publishes something called the Foreign Relations of the United States, a series of volumes documenting the official history of U.S. Foreign Policy.  It’s referred to as “FRUS” which is pronounced “Fruice.”  Last week Stephen Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists published a blog entry describing “a tense and adversarial” meeting of the Department’s Historical Advisory Committee at which the chairman resigned after reading into the record a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice detailing his and the committee’s concerns about the State Department Historian’s alleged mismanagement of the office and its expected effects on the quality, integrity and timeliness of the FRUS.  (That last sentence of mine would NEVER have gotten past a radio editor.) Aftergood’s post includes the letter and supporting documents as well as emails between the chairman and the Historian’s boss Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack; the result is a remarkably full account of the issues. For a quicker but less detailed version, check out the (3 minute 48 second) radio story I did today:


“It’s an insanity that goes way beyond war.”

I never thought I’d be blogging so much about Eastern Congo but the recent violence there has brought renewed attention to the conflict and especially to the war against women waged by armed groups on all sides. Today on The World, Lisa Mullins interviewed a UK-based nurse called Leah Chishugi who is originally from Goma in the DRC. Chishugi went back recently to interview women there about the sexual violence they’ve endured. The Guardian has a profile and video she shot while she was there.

The Nation is also on the story–Ann Jones has an excellent piece this week about the Kamanyola Women’s Collective. Kamanyola is a town in South Kivu Province, near the Rwandan border.With the help of the International Rescue Committee the women there banded together to help rape victims in their community and created a remarkable organization that gives women a voice where often they have none.   I visited the same women a year ago and did this radio piece about their work. (Scroll down to see a few photos too.)  The Nation piece has more detail though and you can tell Ann Jones spent real time there. Mine was only a fleeting visit.  

Mia Farrow has just returned from Goma and environs as well. Here’s some audio of her from yesterday. She tried to describe the situation: “I don’t like to call it war. The people there will call it the war. To me it’s an insanity that goes way beyond war. In the absense of all order and all systems you have a complete rampage of armed groups tearing apart the civilian population and you have an atmosphere of complete impunity.”

And a couple more links of the day:

Herman Cohen on what a common market  could do for Congo and Rwanda in the NYT.

Les Roberts on death-by-fear in Eastern Congo at Making Sense of Darfur. (This post was prompted by Hugo Slim’s new book Killing Civilians: Methods, Madness, and Morality in War. It sounds like a must-read for this death-and-destruction reporter. Sigh.)

The Never Ending War

Eve Ensler and Stephen Lewis on the indifference to the war on women in Congo at The Huffington Post.

The EU and Congo

Today I look at the debate over whether to send an EU “bridging” force to Congo.  The UN plans to beef up the UN force in Congo, MONUC, but it can’t mobilize additional troops for months. The idea behind an EU deployment would be to get a small agile force on the ground quickly to secure strategic towns and provide some stability while the UN force refocuses on civilian protection outside the cities.  The massacre in Kiwanja last month unfolded even with a UN peacekeeping base nearby.  Belgium has offered troops and its foreign minister is keen to see an EU force go but Britain and Germany, countries that actually have troops standing by for emergency deployments, are reluctant to deploy them.  It doesn’t make sense for France to send troops to Congo because it has terrible relations with neighboring Rwanda (which is anyway accused of stoking the conflict in eastern Congo–an accusation it denies.)  President Sarkozy said today he thought African troops should go, not European troops. Yesterday EU leaders failed to agree on an EU force. It’s not clear that the idea is dead yet though. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday.

Here’s the piece: