Rand Corporation, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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Founded by the U.S. Air Force as a think tank in 1948, the Rand Corporation now identifies itself as an "independent, nonprofit research and educational organization." Even today, however, three of its five research divisions are sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, respectively; 84 percent of its revenues come from the federal government; and 75 percent of its research funding is on national security. [1] Its "independence" is thus hardly complete, and Rand is responsive to its founder's needs. In 1984, for example, Rand was approached by the Pentagon with the idea of a study on Latin America, using as the source of information former General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, an unemployed former leader of the Honduran death squads for whom the Pentagon was trying to make work. Alvarez Martinez was put on the Rand payroll. [2]

Rand also conducted a study of Central American policy for the national security establishment in 1984, in which its authors reject a reliance on diplomacy as not providing enough "incentives" for Nicaragua to behave itself. While urging the United States to "abide by the time-honored principle of nonintervention;' and to continue its traditional support of "moderate forces" and "pluralist, democratic institutions" in the area, the authors recommend the implementation of low-intensity warfare, stressing attacks on "soft" targets-i.e., U.S. state-sponsored terrorism-as the appropriate U.S. policy toward Nicaragua, a country with which the United States was not at war. [3] One of the authors of this report, Brian Jenkins, is Rand's resident top expert on terrorism.

In the field of terrorism, Rand has for some years maintained a Security and Subnational Conflict Group, which sponsors conferences and seminars, publishes articles and monographs dealing with terrorism and counterinsurgency, provides experts to those in need, and maintains a "terrorism data base." It is a relatively large and scholarly operation for the terrorism field. The Rand data base on terrorism, however, in common with those collected by other institutes, security firms, and government agencies, exhibits a fundamental bias that fits and supports the Western model of terrorism. It focuses on terrorist incidents of "violence waged outside presently accepted rules and procedures of international diplomacy and war... designed to attract worldwide attention to the terrorist and to inspire fear." Incidents are included only if information is "publicly available." [4] As governmental acts of violence are often not designed to "attract worldwide attention and to inspire fear;' but only to inspire fear (and decimate an opposition), the Rand principle of selection excludes a large part of wholesale terror from the start. Furthermore, government violence very often does not yield "publicly available information" (e.g., the work of death squads and government torturers), and is claimed (often falsely) by the terrorist states to be within the "presently accepted rules" of warfare. As the evidence of the victims is often not accessible and is countervailed by the claims of the victimizing states, government terror does not produce authenticated incidents. There are numerous other problems in determining and weighting terrorist incidents. [5]

As noted, Rand's top resident expert on terrorism is Brian Jenkins, author of 'International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict' and numerous monographs and articles on the subject. As Jenkins is a major figure who frequently writes for imd is interviewed by the mass media [...]. It is noteworthy, however, that despite his affiliation with an air force-sponsored organization, and his long-standing role as a counterinsurgency expert and advocate, Jenkins stands to the "left" of such figures as Cline, Ledeen, Alexander, and Sterling, and fits category (1), "establishment moderate." Nevertheless, he focuses exclusively on the West as the victim of terrorism and on suitable means of controlling terrorists as seen from the Western vantage point.

In addition to acting as host to Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Rand has provided a base for Paul Henze as a resident "scholar"; both cases illustrate the "parking" or "warehousing" service that the industry institutes perform for suitable experts or "assets" in need of a temporary institutional affiliation. Henze thus was able to work on the Bulgarian-KGB plot to kill the pope as a Rand scholar rather than as a longtime CIA officer specializing in propaganda.


  • ^. 1. The Rand Corporation, 1986-1987, pp. iii and 110.
  • ^ 2. Charles Babcock and Terri Shaw, "Ousted Chief of Honduran Military Was Hired as U.S. Defense Consultant;' Washington Post, May 10, 1987. While working at Rand, Alvarez also served as an advisor to retired lieutenant General Gordon Sumner, Jr., who paid Alvarez $50,000. Sumner's firm had been given a Pentagon contract to assess low-intensity conflict in Central America, with an agreement that Alvarez Martinez serve as the "sole source" of information. Sumner is head of the extreme right-wing Council for Inter-American Security, a group that strives to refute charges of death squad involvements in Salvadoran and Guatemalan political killings. John Singlaub, until recently head of WACL and still chairman of its American branch, serves on its board of advisors. Sumner is also affiliated with the Moonie-dominated International Security Council (ISC), and has attended several Moon-CAUSA-sponsored events, cochairing an ISC conference in Paris in February 1985. The council is the Moon-CAUSA foreign policy wing, as described below. On Alvarez's background as U.S. and Argentine police and counterinsurgency trainee, and his record as a state terrorist, see Richard Alan White, The Morass (New York: Harper & Row, 1984), pp. 184-95.
  • ^ 3. Edward Gonzalez, Brian Jenkins, David Ronfeldt, and Caesar Sereseres, "U.S. Policy for Central America: A Briefing," Rand Report R-3150-RC, March 1984, pp. vii, 8, 9, 21, 30.
  • ^ 4. This language is taken from a data base description put out by William W. Fowler. "Terrorism Data Bases: A Comparison of Missions, Methods, and Systems;' Rand, March 1981.
  • ^ 5. Some of these problems are discussed by Ted Gurr in "Empirical Research on Political Terrorism: The State of the Art and How It Might Be Improved;' in Robert Slater and Michael Stohl, eds., Current Perspectives on International Terrorism (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988). But Gurr presumes that the problems are resolvable by more resource inputs and rigor in definition and analysis â€â€? that is, more money allocated to members of the terrorism industry. We believe that the problems run deeper and that the ambiguities in conceptualization, difficulties in getting data, and the policy-oriented nature of the demand for terrorism data by governments and business will continue to inject massive bias and abort any really scientific data gathering on the subject of terrorism.