Congo Slips Into Chaos Again as Rebels Gain

In the past week, the rebels have been unstoppable, seizing a provincial capital and eviscerating a chaotic Congolese Army.

Comments: 90

  1. Sorry, but I believe that Congo along with most African nations need a muammar gaddafi and a Socialist Union Party, and they need to nationalise their own national resources. I fear nothing else will work, especially not bought off democratic politicians.

  2. Africans are often blamed for their problems, like rape victims who are blamed for their rapes (Africas was literally raped by Europe).

    But all the African countries with resources, like Nigeria, are controlled by corrupt leaders paid off by foreign and U.S. oil companies.

    Thus, in Nigeria, one of the world leading oil producers and a country were most people live on less than $2 per day, gasoline costs the same as in the U.S. because Nigeria has no oil refinery. Why does Nigeria export petroleum and then import gasoline? 'xplain it to me, Lucy.

    The "good" news (irony) is that communist China is quickly pushing the democratic, capitalist west out of Africa.

  3. You say Congo is a mess, one repeated internationalist attention has failed to clean up. And the recent crisis came about because its corrupt chief executive stole an election and the international community did nothing. Then it pressured that same corrupt executive to arrest one of his generals wanted for war crimes, and it all backfired, resulting in the present rebellion.

    So we're at fault because we don't enforce fair elections in Congo (and how precisely would we do that), but, in the interests of humanity, we insisted on risking civil war to arrest a criminal in uniform. And now thousands of people in a foreign land are paying the price for our preferences.

    Seems to me the common thread is that somehow it's all everybody else's fault but those who actually live in Congo. And this time, at least some of that criticism of the West's role may be right. When we provoked the situation with Mr Ntaganda, what precisely were we trying to achieve? He may very well be a war criminal, but was his apprehension, trial, and punishment worth the risk of lighting the fuse on this fire? How much is our desire to do good actively working against maintaining the stability of states such as Congo?

    I don't doubt our intentions throughout aren't malevolent, but is that really enough to keep sticking our nose into other countries, whose citizens will have to face the consequences of our dillettantist concerns? Why not stay out entirely?

  4. I really doubt that the international community could do anything about that artificial country called the Congo, that sprang from the desolate ruins created by another artificial country, Belgium.

    But I am 100% certain that Congo, like Haiti, will never receive any attention from the west never has in the past.

    About the only thing we could do is monitor war crimes there and then arrest and prosecute any Congolese war criminals so at least they will not be able to spend their ill-gotten gain outside the Congo.

    By the way, genocide-ravaged Rwanda is one of THE leading forces behind the war in Congo, which itself has been in a state of war for about the last 20 years.

  5. With about 800.000 people killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the world was outraged. With more than 8 millions killed in Congo since 1996 the world is still scrambling for solutions and positioning. If there was no minerals in this part of the Congo no one would have tolerated such aberration. It seems to me that when it comes to Congo's situation, even in the 1880 at the Berlin Conference, the world stops being civilized. Bloody money becomes more tasty than human dignity and human life.

  6. The people who run the Congo want top have a weak army. That way they are free from fears of a coup. When a foreign nation invades, there is always the UN to turn to,so that a deal may be made. As for tnot care too much.he people, who cares? If the people cared, they would rise up. As they don't, they must be used to it. Not our problem.

  7. So much trouble, in countries that the West created to suit itself. Congo, Israel, Jordan, Syria and so on and so on.

  8. You mention King Leopold but no mention of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and the western backed coup to install Mobutu?

  9. It is easy to work backwards and state what they're missing in the Congo. From this perspective, Graham is perhaps correct; only a dictator could nationalize resources and funnel profits into the structures needed to run cities, villages, and to educate Congolese. However, find a wise and benevolent dictator anywhere at any point in human history. S/He would be rare indeed. Solomon perhaps.

    So we're left to wonder how to work forwards from where they are.

    Greed is a powerful factor preventing progress. As unrealistic as it may sound at first, it's perhaps time to coordinate a trade embargo as was done to South Africa. (The people won't suffer from this because they don't benefit from mining resources and the involvement of foreign corporations.)

  10. King Solomon, the man with 300 wives, the lustful old lecher who, out of envy and lust coveted his neighbor's wife and so had the man placed in circumstances under which he would certainly be killed? That "wise" old King?

  11. I don't know why the world pretends to ignore the perpetrators of this brutality. The rape, and killings of innocent civilians lay squarely on President Museveni of Uganda, and Kagame of Rwanda. Both these heads of state are dictators, and are determined to create a great lakes region that is dominated by a minority Tutsi government over the majority population. Both heads of state are murders that hide behind a veiled humanitarian fakeness, by providing troops in Somalia under the auspices of the war on terror. By doing this they get a pass from Western governments. We in Uganda have had the unfortunate circumstance of 27 years of Museveni's corrupt leadership, dominated by a Tutsi-Rwandese government that is determined to assert its influence by any means necessary. This blue print is what is being used to fight in the DRC. The intention being that Tutsi leadership in Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC will solidify the unquenched greed for resources by this minority. It is a recipe the world can no longer ignore. It will continue to displace thousands if not millions of innocent civilians, and fuel a genocidal war that has already killed more than 6 million people. Yoweri Museveni used the same tactics in Uganda in the Luwero Triangle pretending to be a freedom fighter in the 1980's.

  12. This kind of conspiracy theory of world domination sounds terrifying but is rarely true. It is overly simplistic and plays on peoples' worst fears without addressing the complex political forces that are the reality of the situation.

  13. Tim Horner - PA: "This kind of conspiracy theory of world domination sounds terrifying but is rarely true."

    I guess you never have heard of the former Soviet Union ("When we hang the capitalists, it will be with the rope they sold us"), or the aims of the current communist regime that rules China (we Americans designed the best rope but then our corporate leaders moved the rope factory to China to make hanging up more convenient for the Chinese).

  14. Tim Horner

    Tim Horner - PA
    Perhaps the word here is "We here in Uganda".
    From a perch in PA, it's much easier to dismiss or minimize.
    Voices such as this commentor (dd) have their own blood on the ground.

  15. Rwanda most certainly does NOT want to annex the Kivu area of DRC. Quite the opposite. If anything, Rwanda would like to seal tight their border with DRCongo. This fight is related to the botched humanitarian effort led by the French and operation Turquoise that ended up providing safe haven for thousands of Hutu extremists and genoicdaires in the camps of eastern Congo. And yes there were rogue generals who broke away from the RPF and began hunting down what they perceived to be the enemies of Rwanda: The Hutu. In the political vacuum that was/is eastern DRC, the 1994 genocide has taken on a life of its own. Kagame has no love for the remnants of the Hutu extremists that ravaged Rwanda in 1994 and still aims to 'finish the work', but he also has political interest in creating and fostering war in DRC. But the international community insists on seeing Kagame as personally responsible for supporting this conflict, even though it is probably the case that there are those within the Rwandan military and government who are more sympathetic to M23 than he is. And by the way, there is no such thing as a Rwandan-speaking person. Kinyarwandan is a language that has always been bigger than the border of Rwanda. It is precolonial and is still commonly spoken in the great lakes region of Africa, including DRC. It is not a criteria for separating out M23 from congolese.

  16. The soldiers and others who supposedly carried out the genocide in Rwanda have been recycled throughout this conflict. They have fought on all sides, including for the Rwandan army under the direction of Tutsi generals. When they are caught, they are simply swiveled around like pawns, and made to fight for whoever happens to be pulling their strings at any particular moment in time. As far as G_D being a horrific entity; blame man for what man does, and not G_D for man does. We aren't automatons.

  17. I have recently worked and lived in Kinshasa, DR Congo and was able to travel to Eastern DR Congo. I worked for the UN in Peacekeeping Operations. I can tell you it was a joke. Millions and millions (most coming from US) were being spent with little accountability for results. The old saying, "just throw money at it and it will be resolved/fixed" is the method being employed. IT'S NOT WORKING!
    Peacekeeping assets were used to move ballots during the last national election because the DR Congo government (their budget in the thousands of dollars) could not. They dropped the responsibility mostly on the UN to manage costing in the millions of dollars.
    I could go on and on.

  18. You express such surprise at the "chaos" in the Congo. You gloss over the genocidal reign of King Leopold who slaughtered 10 million people in the Congo and cut off the hands of millions more--men, women and children. The wealth produced through this massive violence created widespread prosperity in Belgium for a century-- so much so that there are monuments in Belgian parks that read, "Thank you, King Leopold, for giving us the Congo."

    You fail to mention the U.S. and Belgian role in murdering Patrice Lumumba in 1961, the elected prime minister who made his firm commitment clear: the resources of Congo would feed, clothe and shelter the people of the Congo, not international corporations and interests. For this he was tortured for over a month before being shot and chopped to pieces by Western powers.

    Since Lumumba the U.S. and European governments have backed and paid well the Mobutus, the Kabillas and every other henchman that would maintain the suffering of the people and political chaos in the country for the benefit of Western corporations and states.

    You do not mention the U.S. interests in maintaining control of Congo's valuable resources such as Coltan, necessary for cell phones and computers to function. (Congo has more than 80% of the world's reserves of coltan).

    There are African people who are working to liberate Africa, dispense with the colonial borders, and nationalize of all its resources for the benefit of the people. Their day will come.

  19. I mostly agree that much of the history is glossed over, in particular the 1960s. We can discuss the evils and horrors of King Leopold's personal colony over and over again but the Cold War legacy probably has more of an impact on the present.

    Specifically, Belgium (after Congo was an officiai colony) was so frightened of going through the experience that the French did in Indochina and Algeria that they de-colonized much too abruptly. All the institutions of government collapsed overnight after being handed over to the natives. The army mutinied against their Belgian officers and took to the streets with heavy weapons...sound familiar?

  20. Thank you for expressing my thoughts on this so clearly. Sadly this is the story of the continent I was born on and still love sso dearly and have so much hope for. People forget that an entire crop of men like lumumba who had big dreams and plans for the continent were sysytematically killed of or silenced in favor of a crop of inept henchmen like mobutu and bokassa and bongo etc whose only jobs are to oversee the plundering of the national treasures for the benefit of foreign interests and their own bank accounts. Someday will people will rise up and join the fellowship of nations who control theirown wealth for the good of their own people.

    ps: Can someone tell me how a ragtag bunch of rebels can be so well armed? who supplies their weaponry, who launders their cash? The day we go after the arms dealers of the world with the same intensity with which we hunt "terrorists" is the day we have a safer planet.

  21. The Congo will never be a united country. Around the United States many college students are taking Cultural Anthropology and one of the textbooks being required to read is "King Leopold's Ghost" by Adam Hochschild. This is a huge book on the fragmented culture of the Congo. The deeper on gets into the book the more one comes away feeling that the only way a true peace will return to the Congo is a return to a pre-colonization state - many tribal ran nations. The Congo did not want to be together in the first place.

  22. Most countries in Africa are creations of the colonial powers, so as you say, it is not surprising that there are centrifugal forces that tend to tear them apart.

    That said, many African countries have made a go of it. If there is a country that should have flown apart, it would be South Africa, but despite its many troubles, it has stayed together and encouraged everyone to think of themselves as South Africans, rather than as Afrikaaners, Zulus, etc.

    Nigeria went through a terrible civil war and is now dealing with Salafist terrorism, but it holds together, more or less.

  23. I remember hearing an interview with writer Roger Rosenblatt on how he became an atheist after the tragic death of his daughter.

    Rosenblatt said the choice "a good God exists" no longer existed for him, and of the remaining two choices, "God is evil" or "God doesn't exist", the latter was only reasonable choice.

    I agree with Rosenblatt completely. A good God would not have subjected Africans to centuries of genocide. But ironically, and like most Jews, most Africans still worship a horrifically evil God.

  24. Agreed but we should not call it "tribal" ran - is France "tribal led" by the presumed descendants of the Gaulois? Or the UK triballly led by the Angles and the Saxons? There must be better terminology.

  25. Much as I hate to say it but almost any role the "West" would try to take now would probably exacerbate an already devastating situation because of past abuse and and exploitation going back for generations in Congo.

    Couple that past to the impact of the way Europeans defined the present and rediculous national borders with their own wealth opportunities in mind over logical, ethnically related and functional considerations and I see little hope at all for this vast and naturally gifted land;...unless either a strong leader from within comes suddenly out of nowhere, or some nation not historicaly involved comes in and cleans house.

    That nation could well be China and if so, painful as it might be for us in the West, maybe the best thing to do would be to do nothing as they become involved. China has expressed major interests in Congo's vast resources. From the Congolese general population's standpoint it would likely be better, a lot better than any other option on the horizon.

    My daughter happens to live in Zambia just to the South of Congo and a country nearly cut in half by those rediculous borders by what is called the Congo Pinnacle. Zambia is a stable and growing country with a relatively good government and a bright future. China is making significant investments in the country and the economy is reflecting that fact. Could the same eventually happen in Congo? I hope so for the health and future of my own daughter, only one border away from the violence.

  26. Not to worry.

    Most Americans know far more about and are far more interested in the fortunes of their favorite football team than they care about U.S. soldiers dying in Afghanistan (except when football fans stand up for 1 minute to "honor" our wounded warriors; then the game goes on like nothing happened).

    And keeping prices low at home requires us to shamelessly exploit the poor in Bangladesh, China and the Democratic Congo. Heck, if we didn't do it, someone else would.

    Finally, the one true religion Capitalism is not moral or immoral; capitalism is totally amoral. The one true God has finally arrived: Money. "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell" (Edward Abbey). But it's the only ideology we have left, and amazingly enough, Capitalism actually beats the complete immorality and corruption of organized religions.

  27. I worked in Kinshasa over twenty years ago and it is sadly apparent that not much has changed. Back then you paid in the market with blocks of currency because money was virtually worthless while high level soldiers drank vintage champagne in elegant Belgian restaurants. Perhaps it is time to admit that the Congo was never a real country. Like so much of Africa the borders were imposed by colonial powers without regard to ethnic or economic realities. Instead of trying to prop up Kabila it might make more sense to allow secessionary tendencies free reign, starting with Katanga.

  28. Friend, a lot of top level military in the US are worth millions and tens of millions. Nothing new under the sun.

  29. I am sorry to said but not country will get on his feet if first they can control the corruption,and it is always easy to blame the western country and Europe but at the end of the days we the people of Congo have to take responsability of Congo and his destiny.

  30. Reading your comment gives me hope for your country. Sincere best wishes to you.

  31. Thank you for injecting common sense among so many comments that seek to apportion blame but do not provide pathways to a solution. I agree with you completely, and I hope that you and millions of like-minded Congolese citizens can find a way to reduce corruption, increase security and move forward as a nation.

  32. Really? How do unarmed people face down corrupt regimes and armed rebels? This takes us off the hook, but that laptop you typed your comment on needed the resources extracted from the Congo. Do you know how they were "procured?"

  33. Somehow the writer omitted the fact that war in the Congo has cost literally millions of lives, a second Holocaust that the world has ignored because its victims have been black and ignored by the news media. One other comment. If I remember right,Don Corleone established peace among the dons by going to the mattresses ( a gang war). Well, the Congo has been going to the mattresses ever since it was created in 1960 and the Western world has largely been guilty in its insouciance, guilty in supplying arms, and guilty in maintaining the struggle by its greed for the country's resources.

  34. Colonial and post-colonial "borders" and "states" will never function for the people of the African continent. The ethnically based borders of modern Europe were forged out of millennia of bloody warfare that terminated only 6 decades ago after the horrors of mechanized warfare and the creation of the atom bomb.

    What makes the western enforcers of the current international order believe that peoples will live together within artificial borders and thrive under governments that do not have the consent of the governed? I must conclude that they don't believe that they will and that the current state of affairs in Africa is an intended consequence, making it easier to leverage favorable conditions for continued exploitation of Africa's natural resources.

  35. Mr. Bailey is correct. The borders of Africa reflect European colonial empires and have nothing to do with the realities of ethnic and tribal regions that existed long before the advent of colonialism. The powers departed much too quickly at the end of WWII and left the current mess. Millenial enemies were locked together within the same countries and began fighting almost immediately. One or two regions were lucky to be left with one tribal area, such as the Zulu, in a single country and escaped the bloodshed. Sadly, no clearcut solution looms in the near future.

  36. Colonialism ended 50 years ago, or more. How many decades do the people of Africa need to re-draw the maps to suit their liking?

    Look at a map of Europe from 50 years ago and then today. Very different and still changing. At some point, you have to stop blaming history and make your own.

    I don't underestimate the deep and long-lasting effects of colonialism; but Africa wasn't exactly a peaceful, settled place prior to colonialism, and its that tribal-rivalry legacy that continues haunt many of these regions, as this article indicates.

  37. This region knows only one means to limit its runaway population growth rate: war.

  38. Actually, in Rwanda the government has been funding birth control clinics and now Rwanda has one of the lowest birth rates in its region, maybe in Africa. This could prevent another Rwandan Genocide.

  39. Prunier's Africa's World War is an excellent book to read for understanding more of this context. Rwandans have long pointed to newly developed Kigali and said "this comes from the DRC." While the West applauded Kagame's fiscal efforts parents of the sons forced into battle in the Congo have known better. Museveni and Kagame have their hands in M23 and the fact that Kagame still receives so much funding from the West when that could be a significant lever is highly problematic. The UK just sent a big check and the US still sends its share. Our ambivalence over Rwanda is paralyzing and the people most hurt are the citizens of the Great Lakes region who live in terror and poverty. Congo and the Great Lakes region should be on Obama's list for the most serious short and long-term issues to tackle in his second term. What is taking place now, however, needs high level diplomacy with Museveni and Kagame of the kind that has temporarily halted the violence in Gaza. Hillary Clinton needs to get on a plane immediately.

  40. Not our business. Let the former colonial masters clean up the mess.

  41. The reason we fund Kagame's government is that it is one of the least corrupt governments in Africa. If you go to Rwanda you will see a beautiful, clean country, with schools and roads that function. The birth rate in Rwanda is also much lower than in neighboring countries because Kagame had the foresight to fund birth control clinics, which may well prevent another genocide. Kagame is not a democratic leader; he came to power in a war which makes me automatically skeptical of him. But he has done great things for Rwanda.

    That said, I still agree with you that Obama and Hillary should do something about this crisis, and get tough with Kagame and Museveniif he is indeed funding the M23 movement. We might have to end military aid, but we should not end economic or humanitarian aid to Rwanda.

  42. If the Congo successfully defended itself, the US and the UK would be at a terrible loss and go running in to aid Rwanda with more money and more weapons.

  43. Maybe, just maybe M23 may be the long-sought answer!!!

  44. So you wouldn't mind if an armed Mexican group with aid from the Mexican government were to try to wrest Texas and all her mineral wealth from the US?

  45. So you pose an asinine questions that has nothing to do with the actual topic at hand? Texas - despite what some may believe - is not ruled by a dictator who steals from the people to fill his own pockets. Unless you're accusing Obama of being something akin to a mild mannered Saddam Hussein. In which case - you're questions still is not applicable. Let's try apples to apples shall we?

  46. "So you wouldn't mind if an armed Mexican group with aid from the Mexican government were to try to wrest Texas and all her mineral wealth from the US?"

    If Mexico ever tried something like that, I am sure that it would be the end of Mexico.

  47. At some point, we have to see these people - and all the world's people - as worthy of support. We ignore them because it's not cool, they have no oil, and they aren't a terrorist threat to us. Like the increasing earth temperature, we ignore them at our peril.

  48. Michael, nice thought but wishful thinking. Something constant .... I am afraid the Western nations regard all Africans as equally worthless.

  49. Yes that is exactly the kind of conspiracy theories I am talking about. They are simplistic sound bytes and do nothing to solve the real problems of this complex world. These theories always throw their hands in the air in surrender. I will not surrender.

  50. Indeed, western miscalculation not only over the Rwanda's intent in the eastern Congo, but mostly about Kabila's capacity to govern the country and to help economic growth. The west knew Kabila was not popular and was linked to a mafia of mineral trafficking and human rights violation in complicity with Rwanda where Kabila started his political journey. Kabila was favored by the west because of the so called predictability while the opposition leader, very popular in Congo was seen as too nationalist and not easy to work with. The price of this is what we see today, blood, blood and blood by the same folks supported by the same countries that have been looting minerals and raping, killing, and torturing in Congo. Rwanda takeover of the eastern Congo will lead to worse crises then now. Congolese Tutsi are not threatened in Congo, at the same time Tusti show more ties with Rwanda than to Congo. But they know they can't govern Congo given the repeated grievances against other Congolese ethnic groups. Can the civilized world feel this pain and stop this bleeding?

  51. 750 Congolese Soldiers Graduate from U.S.-led Military Training, Form Light Infantry Battalion (KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sep 20, 2010). I read this a year or so ago. Hopefully, we continue to build on this effort so the govenrment forces can win out against the rebels.

  52. Why do you want the government forces to win?

  53. The current international borders throughout Africa were drawn in Brussels, London and Paris and did not arise organically. The notion of "nationality" that is familiar to other countries does not exist there. Loyalties are to individuals, not ideas. Much of Africa is passing through the same ritual of blood and fire that Europe did in the Dark Ages and later. In Europe the crescendo of war and death mounted unabated for over a millennium until it became so catastrophic in the 20th century that their civilization could no longer bear it. Only then did the will arise to put an end to it.

    The same process is playing out again. It will end only when the situation gets so bad that something approaching extinction will force African civilization to literally choose between life or death.

  54. Could not have said it better, except i pray that when that generation of men and women step up to forge a better way forward they are not mowed down by entrenched power brokers with the help of foreign monied interests.

  55. True. The "international community" seems to have more of an interest in maintaining the current "sacred" borders in Africa more than the Africans themselves.

    Unfortunately for African peoples, the current conflicts are being fought with the tools of mechanized warfare and not with swords and spears (a simplification, I know but the horrors of mechanized warfare forced Europe to a continent-wide peace only within living memory after millennia of constant warfare).

    In Europe, the Germans have Germany and the French have France. Imaging forcing the Germans and the French to share a country especially if both peoples had their colleagues populating neighboring "countries."

    The ill-fated Biafra war in the 1960s proved that the "international community" preferred that ethnic-based nationhood and its resultant stability should be a feature reserved for Europe only. Twelve million Swedes are allowed to have their own country but not 25 million Igbos. The result, a continuing dysfunctional and ungovernable fiction called Nigeria.

    Across the continent, this beat goes on.

  56. "Rebels" marching forward. What? "Rebels"? "Activists"?
    It's high time Washington realized its duties and arm them.
    I mean: Arm them better! That's what Washington does with "rebels", isn't it?

  57. So, to summarize most of the comments so far -- the West caused these problems by meddling in Africa's internal affairs, and the West prolongs these problems by failing to intervene in Africa's internal affairs. Somehow the USA simultaneously causes and ignores what is happening in the Congo. It's an astonishing accomplishment.

    It reminds me a bit of how George W. Bush's answer to any economic question was to cut taxes. Budget surplus? Cut taxes. Deficit? Cut taxes. Recession? Cut taxes. And so on. It quickly became mutually exclusive and then incoherent. Perhaps people need to start recognizing that they are doing the same here. Not everything is the West's fault. You can always nitpick Western policy towards Africa, but the fact remains that the continent has had the same opportunities over the past 50 years as Asia and Latin America. If Africa never stood a chance, then why did places like Poland, South Korea or Chile prosper? Why are the Gulf States advancing? Why is Costa Rica a stable nation? It can't always be somebody else's fault.

  58. The answers to your questions are available, if you'll read up on the history of the Congo. It has mineral resources, and greedy westerners willing to money laundry and deal with and prop up unsavory characters to get to them. Those unsavory characters were protected by western politicians.

    Costa Rica is not the example you are looking for. Guatemala, El Salvador -- those countries with their wealthy landowners and death squads -- those are the parallels. (And remember the connections with Romney's Bain Capital?) And one doesn't have to look far to find the connections to United Fruit in Latin America and then to diamond and gold interests in the Congo.

  59. pa, you've missed my point. (I actually know the answers to my questions, I was asking rhetorically.)

    Every nation deals with greedy exploiters. Australia, for example, is a thinly-populated nation rich in natural resources, which began as a penal colony and for two centuries suffered from colonialism, Asian militarism and Cold War geopolitics - just as Africa.

    Costa Rica is precisely the example I was looking for, actually, because unlike its immediate neighbors it lacks "wealthy landowners and death squads" willing to destabilize it. Those are indigenous problems. Don't tell me about United Fruit unless you are willing to explain how it's any different than Standard Oil or any of a million other corporate or state interests that operate around the globe.

    If your theory is correct, and it all comes down to "western politicians" and western interests, then the difference between successful and failed states anywhere in the world boils down to whether the West wants them that way or not. So India is (relatively) stable because the West wants it that way, while Pakistan is not because of our whims. We wanted China to be decrepit until we decided to make it strong and prosperous. We wanted Japan one way and then another - nothing the Japanese did with their own nation after the 1850s was as influential as what we Westerners came up with. And so on. Of course, that's patently absurd.

  60. You cant talk about The Congolese war without noting that the Rwandan genocide is the core cause for Rwandan (Tutsi ) involvement. Large remnants of Hutu militias are active in the area, supported by the Congolese government. These groups also attack ethnic Tutsi Congolese who are native to the area.

    Kagame is far from a saint, and the Tutsi are not blameless in the conflict, but Rwandan Hutu militias killed 800,000 Tutsi in 3 months in 1994 (as well as numerous moderate Hutu) and the killers then fled into the Congo when Ugandan based Tutsi forces forced them out.

    Shame over Western inaction during the genocide and sympathy for surviving Rwandan Tutsi are two reasons why Western powers are hesitant to put too much pressure on Kagame.

  61. A pattern appears.
    As soon as we "know" of a country because of its resources, war, conflict and human suffering breaks out like a plague. We "knew" the South for its cotton . . . which needed slavery. We know the Congo for its "vast" mineral wealth . . . Liberia for its diamonds . . . Saudi Arabia for its oil . . . The story of each county, especially regarding women, is scathing. The more "singular" the resource aim is the worse the situation. Zimbabwe was once known for agriculture . . . now it is know for diamonds or some other single metal . . . Bangaldesh for its shirt factories. Narrow vision is an inevitable loss. Or so it seems to me.

  62. When you say "we" you mean a very small number of powerful capitalists unencumbered by morality or their governments, without the informed consent of their governed. Remember, "we the people" also ended slavery (in this country, at least).

    The "we" of today, thanks to the communication explosion, are a much different group. Such much so that we not only object loudly to our own government's failings, but attempt to support just causes around the world. This is a huge victory for civilization. The capitalists may still have myopia, but the people have a much broader vision.

    Perhaps if the Congolese could realize the value (through tourism, etc) of their elephants and other natural wonders they could find an economic path out of this mire that wouldn't include selling boxes of ammunition to poachers. No idea how to get there from here, but that approach is at least starting to work in some other regions.

  63. "We "knew" the South for its cotton . . . which needed slavery."

    The South did not "need" slavery for cotton. When slavery was abolished after the Civil War, it raised as much cotton using sharecroppers than it did using slavery.

  64. The most baffling part about the crisis in the DRC is that which many have already commented: the fact that the rest of the world ignores this issue. The United Nations was created to keep and organize peace, yet there's minimal involvement in the DRC now. The UN needs to reform as well to allow more leniency in intervention. The world said that after 1994 Rwanda: "Never Again." Yet it has happened again and again and again, with little involvement or caring by the rest of the world. It's time for an intervnetion force from the UN to exist and be ready to bring peace to regions like this, forcefully or not.

    Regarding some previous comments, I don't see Rwanda as being directly involved in the conflict in DRC. There may be some underlying meddling, but the idea of Rwanda seeking to annex eastern Congo is inaccurate. I've been a student of Rwanda for years, and this is not the track the government is on.

    As far as the past and future of Africa, there's no use debating the facts of how the African borders were drawn. What's done is done. What we need is to see real change by the people, supported by developed states like the USA and China, so that progress can actually have a chance. Right now, there's no chance at all. And frankly, China's involvement in Africa is a good point of hope for the future, but that country's sole focus on investment and not the human condition will not be the solution to any of these problems.

  65. “We are not a rebellion,” said Benjamin Mbonimpa, an electrical engineer, a bush fighter and now a top rebel administrator. “We are a revolution.”


    They are a devolution. Any uprising utilizing slaughter, torture and rape as method is chained to its own doom. Children and the innocent always pay the price. Instability of tribal fault lines and border claims are wounds easily festered by interests that stand to profit from war and more war...from cleansing. Territories cleared of population are so easily converted into westernized economic stations. With such rich reserves down in the soil, multi-nationals are eyeing the opening they see on the horizon. A weak, ineffective president serves the purpose. Let them 'self' deport' as Mitt Romney said. Let them self destruct. All the more for us when the smoke clears. If only Congo's 'revolution' could be an evolution,loosed from the horror of torture and death. Will our earth ever be free of murder, always running with blood? Will it ever be free of lust for power and greed?

    The US has not set a good example. Rifles are rifles. Then we have
    Enola Gay and Shock and Awe.

  66. Quick, recognize the rebels so they will sign over the diamond and gold mine before France beat us to it again. We already lost enough oil well to the French in Libya and Syria.

  67. The United States and England had an opportunity a decade ago to put pressure on regional client states, Rwanda and Uganda, and they failed to do so, because the US and the UK leadership hated Laurent Kabila and his proposed 3% tax on mineral sales. The Rwandans are a major part of the problem, they have every interest in destablizing the Eastern Congo when it suits their interests and convenience. The Congo didn't create the Hutu militias. The SADC, tried to dislodge the Rwandans and Ugandans from the Congo for many years, only the US and UK refused to stop backing the Rwandans and Ugandans, the result was a prolonged conflict and an estimated 6 million dead. Talking about Congress looking into illicit mineral sales and a link to armed conflict now is a damn pathetic joke.

  68. Earth is filled with misery, as seen in Congo, but the solution seems within pur reach - if only we would reach for it!

  69. I would argue that the solution is for the first world to cease exploitation of this continent. As long as we continue to ravage its vast resources under the name of development and falsely propagate indigenous social structures as savage or primitive, war will ensue. To bring in troops will only pour gasoline on a raging fire.

  70. The roots of this mess are in the Rwandan genocide which the west, specifically Bill "the cigarman Clinton" and his helper Susan "do you spell genocide with a capital G?" Rice, could have helped to avert or at least mitigate. Let's not kid ourselves, we have a big stake in what happens here. We need the minerals that come out of the Congo for our cell-phones and our computers...we also have a responsibility to help clean up the mess that we helped to create.

    I am disgusted by Americans and Europeans who sit back and look at Africans like a lifeguard looks at a drowning person who then yells, "hey you, you're drowning." The swimmer is indeed drowning but in the end he may bring down more than himself.

    Five million people were killed in the Congo during the 1990's when the rest of us were getting a rush from the internet 'boom.' Now we have no excuse. We have to help make this right, Ask Ben Affleck.

  71. Genocide has been the policy of Western colonialism for 500 years. 10 million Africans were killed in 20 years under Leopold, all for rubber. In recent history, it's been, gold, graphite, columbite, oil.. all for Western elitist consumption. It was the CIA who organized Patrice Lumumba's killing, knowing that "chaos" would result as the article above so glibly describes as if the globalized capitalist system has no responsibility.

  72. Ah, the good old days of Belgian colonialism... when native Congolese workers had their hands chopped off if they didn't meet their daily labor quota. And you're carping about Bill Clinton?

  73. I would say that it's more pertinent that Western agriculture and medicine have been responsible for population growth in Africa to levels unknown in pre-colonial times. This would be the opposite of genocide.

  74. "Congo Slips Into Chaos Again"? When has the Congo not been in chaos? Certainly chaos has reigned for the past two decades, in the form of war, corruption, illegal extractions, starvation, and refugees.

    Chaos has existed in Congo since Patrice Lumumbo was assassinated, just after its independence from Belgium.

    Indeed, the Belgian colonization of the Central African area was the antecedent of all of the chaos.

  75. What makes you think that chaos wasn't present before the Europeans colonized Africa? While the Europeans surely did their share of the harm, to blame them for the current state of sub-Sahara Africa is goody-goody guilt-ridden Caucasian naivete.

  76. I've spent over 10 years working in, writing on and being involved in work on Rwanda. Read Stephen Smith's excellent London Review of Books piece on Rwanda or watch the Open Society's Revising Kagame talk on line. The people in the hills don't have clean roads or food or enjoy and stability or security, They live in fear.

  77. Spent a couple of years in Kigali awhile ago and was run out by Kagame & Co. Just visited there again recently and noted that, if anything, the regime is even more pervasive than ever. But people remain afraid to speak out. Appearances can be quite deceiving in Rwanda.

    Very nice to read that someone who clearly knows shares the same opinion as me!

  78. After Mobutu had pillaged the country and ruined it, the father and son Kabila succession has been extraordinarily inept as well as corrupt. Much of the country would surely welcome any half-way effective leadership, however brutal, as a welcome change, which seems to be why the army is melting away and the M23 rebels are advancing so fast.

  79. Of all place's we should really be this is it not the middle east not anywhere else but here helping to rebuild this country and its people

  80. Rwanda and Uganda have been supporting rebels in Congo for more than a decade now with complete impunity. The international community is only now waking up to the role that Rwanda has been playing in destabilizing the eastern part of Congo. The US and the UK need to do more than just cut a few hundred thousands in military aid to show the Rwandan authorities that they will not tolerate a so-called ally who is supporting rebels involved in war crimes and whose leader, Bosco Ntaganda, known as the Terminator, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

  81. White guilt can stop blaming European colonialism and the Western world for the present state of the "Dark Continent." Yes, obviously it preceded it, but in nearly all cases many, many decades have passed since Africa was liberated from colonial rule. Many African nations have far greater natural resources - notably, oil, but gold and diamonds and other precious minerals certainly play into that - than most Western nations yet the vast majority of its citizens live in unimaginable, grinding poverty and have been by ruled by one hideous and terribly corrupt despot after another (Idi Amin, anyone? Mugabe? Mobutu? The list is long and inglorious) who live in opulence, rule with an iron fist, and have zero reservations about killing their own people. Genocide may have been popularized by the white man but African and Asian despots have turned mass-killing into a fine art. Read Teju Cole's singularly brilliant "The White Savior Industrial Complex" where he finally unpacks our often misplaced and most often simply false assumptions about Africa and what we are "to do about it." Let's get away, fundamentally, from our desire to "save" Africa and let her get about the business of saving herself.

  82. "many decades" - that's not very long.

  83. Sadly, "many decades" have not passed since the west has been meddling in Africa. It simply does it differently now. Corporations with business interests can support their own dictators and death squads, or lobby western politicians to send weapons here, look the other way there.

    King Leopold was the devil once, check Canon, Nikon, and Nintendo now. Or read up on Shell Oil in Nigeria.

    The only thing we could save Africa from is ourselves.

  84. Too many assumptions here to even know where to begin. Africa, liberated from colonial rule? Can Africa "save herself" while the international community enforces the old colonial borders against legitimate ethnic aspirations (see France and Germany, better yet, see Belgium)? Can Africa "save herself" while billions in foreign currency supports one side or the other or all sides in the never-ending conflicts? Can Africa "save herself" while ever more billions in natural resources are exported to a world whose vested interests require political corruption (ah, yes - guess where did Amin, Mobutu and Mugabe got their money) and chaos to get the best possible terms?

  85. Reading this story.... Really not much different than south chicago.....

  86. No Bill. This is not south Chicago. This is what someone from the suburbs thinks about South Chicago, forgetting that while there is poverty and violence, there are also small children walking to school, people going to work and hoping for better for their children. Your comment trivializes the suffering of those in the Congo, and demonstrates a lack of appreciation for what a functioning society can do to hold off the worst. I think we can do better, but we are a long way from the Congo.

  87. It frustrates me to see the comments which suggest the west has had nothing to do with these situations. Whether it is the death squads in Latin America or the oppressive regimes in Africa, follow the money! Ask yourselves what you really know about western business interests in the region, and whether those interests haven't had a hand in suggesting what leaders should be protected (all the better to make off with the resources) regardless of how incompetent and repressive they have been. And as we saw in Nicaragua, repression breeds rebellion, and rebel leaders are not always virtuous either.

    Nigeria has oil, the Congo has diamonds, gold, and other minerals found in your laptop. The raped women and children there are not walking around with the latest IPhone. But somebody is getting rich controlling the land and the resources.

    It may be comforting to think this is about overpopulation or homegrown misrule, -- but that is pure ignorance.

  88. Weren't our Special Forces inserted into this region precisely to prevent this?

  89. I think they were sent to look for Kony.

  90. The Congo has been going downhill ever since Moise Tsombe was overthrown.