The 'Blood Diamond' Hoax, Liberia as a Parlor Game and You

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by Robert Wenzel: Are
Regulators Attempting to Kill Off the Money Market Mutual Fund Industry?



consultant, Jack Jolis, has an informative op-ed
at WSJ on the absurd goings on in The Hague. Here
are some snippets.

Thanks to
Naomi Campbell’s clueless testimony before the U.N. Special Court
for Sierra Leone in The Hague, the manufactured nonscandal of
"blood diamonds" is once again being trundled before
the collective gullibility of the world.

The hoopla
is over some diamonds that allegedly were given during a gala
fund-raiser hosted by the sainted Nelson Mandela to Ms. Campbell
by Charles Taylor, the apparently infatuated accused mass murderer
and ex-president of Liberia (and erstwhile friend of Americans
such as Jesse Jackson and Jimmy Carter).

But despite
what much media coverage would have you believe, the parallel
occurrences of diamonds and internecine mayhem in Africa are in
no way related – certainly no more than are violence and
any other commercial commodity found on the continent. When was
the last time we heard of "blood manganese," or "blood
copper," or, for that matter, "blood bananas" or
"blood cut flowers"?

The fact
is that most African diamonds are produced in places that are
reasonably-to-perfectly peaceful (such as Botswana, Namibia and
South Africa), whereas there are murderous African conflicts that
rage elsewhere without the slightest "assistance" from
diamonds (such as Rwanda, Uganda and the Sudan).

Alas, this
simple truth is no match for the combined forces of liberal guilt
and the commercial interests of a few players in the diamond industry.
So the "blood diamond" charade has marched on unimpeded,
passing through Congress (where I testified about the absurdity
of the whole notion 10 years ago), through Hollywood in the hands
of Leonardo DiCaprio (in "Blood Diamond"), and most
recently last week with a supermodel’s testimony in The Hague
about her "dirty pebbles." In this faux-morality play,
everyone has an assigned role:

  • Cover-seeking
    panjandrums of the diamond industry – egged on by the canny
    PR spinners at DeBeers. The latter’s main interest is in eliminating
    independent diamond production. But the campaign against "blood
    diamonds" is eagerly latched onto by many others in the
    industry who see any intergovernmental anti-"blood diamond"
    scheme, no matter how unworkable or feckless, as an opportunity
    to reap respectability and goodwill.

  • Cynical
    NGO charlatans who know a good racket when they’ve stumbled
    on one, and who know that emotive images of amputees and child
    soldiers, when pictured (no matter how incongruously or unjustifiably)
    beside diamond-bedecked Naomi Campbell types, will prove irresistible
    to the unknowing public.

  • Venal politicians
    on every continent, who will leap onto any bandwagon that provides
    a vehicle for cheap moral preening…..

have no legally dispositive geographical DNA. As I believe they
say on 47th Street, "fuggeddabahdit."

To the extent
that this intercontinental tail-chasing of a "Kimberley Process"
results in anything at all (other than the moral salving of the
consciences of the world’s bien-pensants), it is to diminish the
desperately needed revenue of those who are most courageous and
blameless in the entire diamond pipeline – i.e., the independent,
artisanal local diggers in Africa (and to a lesser extent, in
South America).

If the campaigns
of groups like Global Witness result in any fewer sales of diamonds
from Sierra Leone, Liberia or the Congo, it will not diminish
the income of Harry Winston or Cartier or Bulgari, nor of Africa’s
"Big Men," whether in presidential palaces or rebel
redoubts. The only loser would be the poor devil in torn shorts
and flip-flops on a muddy riverbed with a shovel and a wheelbarrow,
who, if he knew what was being done supposedly in his name, would
not be grateful in the slightest.

As for the
real reason Taylor was ousted from Liberia, it was strictly international
global politics, with various U.S. factions using Liberia as something
akin to a parlor game.

I happened
to have something of a front row seat to observe the player that
the then out-of-office Colin Powell was promoting to replace Taylor.
This new man was to end all the corruption going on in Liberia under
Taylor, or so the propaganda went. Of course, the son of Powell’s
man was not in Liberia but in D.C. trying to sell off concessions
to every piece of Liberian business he could think of, before his
father was even in office.

the rest of the article

12, 2010

Economic Policy Journal

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