Donald Rumsfeld

par Jean-Pierre Arbon (former Flammarion Publisher Manager, singer & poet).

Although, I haven’t ever met him in person, I can still talk a little bit about him. Former defence secretary to President Gerald Ford, and future defence secretary to President George W. Bush (we owe him the responsability for the Iraq war, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib; I refer to the article in Le Monde daily for the official obituary), now deceased, headed in the 1980s the American Laboratory GD Searle, which was (along with Synthelabo, which later merged with Sanofi) one of the two shareholders of a joint pharmaceutical venture which I started and managed in the Netherlands.

Searle developed, in the 1960, the first oral contraceptive pill, then invented Asparatame, first synthetic sweetener, known under the brand names of Canderel and Nutrasweet. After huge success, the company began to decline, surrounded by a bizarre reputation. It was headquartered in Skokie, Illinois, in the suburbs of Chicago, where the National Socialist Party of America used to convene its meetings. They were cultivating there the most loathsome American bureaucracy. There was a paranoiac atmosphere. The manuals for internal control were composed of several dozens of volumes. The management was cumbersome and the operational audit suspicious.

Even so, during those years, Mr. Rumsfeld made a lot of money. It is true that from his actions as the CEO, we can hold back on three feats of arms, which delighted his shareholders: the suppression of multiple allegations of falsification of data concerning the safety of Aspartame, his flagship product; the aggressive downsizing of the workforce (in a few years, he succeeded in firing sixty percent of his employees); and finally the sale of Searle to the Monsanto Corporation (which itself was then acquired by Bayer), a company which hadn’t yet acquired worldwide reputation thanks to its GMO seeds, but was however already popular for his Agent Orange as well as for different other beneficial specialities available in its range of defoliants and its vast choice of pesticides.

It appeared that when I had, all on my own, bought my first Macintosh without asking anybody for permission, the work traced back to him and irritated him. What the hell was that this little shit from the other side of the Atlantic who ordered computer hardware without respecting the internal procedure for this kind of investment and without caring about getting the 15 necessary signatures? I therefore, for a few minutes, became the object of attention: after which he probably never heard from me again.

I would have liked if the reciprocal was true.

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