Why Nobody Cares About Congo

Why Nobody Cares About Congo

JIMMIE BRIGGS

 

6 hours ago

Lack of U.S., world efforts to stop brutal war in Congo shows devaluation of African lives

 

The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not necessarily reflect those of Loop 21.


Sitting in front of a lukewarm mug of cocoa at an eerily quiet hotel restaurant in west London yesterday, I couldn’t help staring at an image in a local tabloid newspaper. It was a color photograph of a young Congolese boy staring toward the sky, with wide, delirious eyes and a mouth frozen in a scream. A short distance behind him stood a phalanx of soldiers in green camouflage uniforms with automatic rifles slung low across their shoulders.

 

A little over a week ago, rebels overtook the national Congolese army, as well as the boy’s home community of Goma, an area that straddles the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Peace talks between the rebels and the government began Sunday, but the rebels have threatened to retake Goma if the negotiations fail.

 

It was hard to tell if the boy in the picture was celebrating the cease-fire, or expressing a madness born out of the futility of this latest rebellion.

Either way, I understood, and sighed.

 

Over the last decade and a half, the central African nation synonymously known as Zaire, “the Congo,” Democratic Republic of Congo and the “heart of darkness,” has enthralled and bedeviled me—much as it has the rest of the world. The Congo was the first war zone from which I ever reported, and a decade later it was the last. Over the years, I made dozens of trips there, reporting on child soldiers, then several wars later, rape as a weapon of war. The first time I set foot in the country as a naÏve, anxious magazine writer looking to prove himself, I watched thousands of Hutu refugees from neighboring Rwanda slowly starve to death in the jungle as a deliberate punishment for genocidal actions against their Tutsi countrymen. The images of starving mothers trying to nurse their dead babies back to life will forever haunt me.

I traveled through the long-contested eastern half of the country, visiting hospitals, displacement camps and communes, speaking with survivors of rape and sexual assault. Violence against women has for centuries been a recurring phenomenon of conflict, but in the Congo, it took on an entirely different meaning, where combatants raped infants, using sticks, broken bottles and rifle butts. The day I interviewed a 22-year-old who’d been gang raped twice in one day before watching her three children executed with successive rifle shots to the back of their heads, I knew my affair with the country would have to end. I didn’t blame the Congolese people entirely for what was happening to them and their country, but I did look to the global community and Western nations in

disbelief.

 

[READ MORE: STOPPING THE RAPE OF CONGO'S WOMEN SHOULD BE TOP PRIORITY]

The Democratic Republic of Congo exemplifies the risks and human cost that arise when world powers decide to put a nation together without regard for history, culture or geography. One need look no further than the disarray caused by the creation of Israel on Palestinian lands in 1948, the birth of Bangladesh from Pakistan and India, the regional split by France which led to Lebanon and Syria.

After the mid-90s fall of longtime president Mobutu Sese Seko, the mineral rich nation of Congo underwent two periods of formal, declared “war,” which seemed not only to bleed into each other, but also into the various uprisings and countless militia rebellions since.

 

Lack of U.S., world efforts to stop brutal war in Congo shows devaluation of African lives

 

The most recent one was sparked by a guerilla movement known as M23, or “March 23 Movement,” which has grown steadily since its birth last spring into a viable, unpredictable military threat. Before seizing control of Goma, which is a target perhaps because of its sizable expatriate community of journalists, relief workers and United Nations personnel, M23 was a fledgling array of veterans from an earlier insurgent group closely aligned with Rwanda, which has long held a stake in the country’s fate, since Mobutu’s fall.

 

Since the “First Congo War” of 1996-1998, Rwanda and a host of neighboring nations have directly exploited or engaged proxies to maintain the instability. The “Second Congo War,” which lasted from 1998-2003, was the region’s bloodiest, and drew the armies of close to a dozen countries into fighting so that the conflict became known as “Africa’s World War.” Those nations were the latest in a long line of benevolently exploitative parties, going back as far as the 19th century with the sadistic King Leopold of Belgium, to the United States who brought Mobutu to power through a CIA-sponsored coup in the early 1960s.


Defined by its vast natural resources of copper, caciterite, gold, timber, a third of the world’s diamonds and nearly three quarters of the global coltan reserves—an essential element of all electronic devices such as laptops, tablets and cellphones—the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. But it’s not. According to the United Nations Development Program’s annual “Human Development Index,” it ranks dead last in a survey of about 200 countries. An unstable Congo is ripe for the picking, and as long as the mineral flow east through Rwanda is maintained, we can continue to enjoy our electronic luxuries at the expense of a long terrorized civilian populace.

 

Within the past two decades, more than half a million women have had their bodies intentionally targeted for destruction in the Congo. An estimated 5 million people have so far perished from mortar attacks, automatic weapons fire, and light explosives.

 

If a seemingly never-ending war occurred somewhere in Europe, the United States, or the Near East, wouldn’t the world’s superpowers bring a swift end to it? The United States and the West have been numb to the travails of black, African peoples since the 1992 debacle of a humanitarian intervention in Somalia. The Congo is easily filed away as another example of Africans doing savage things to each other for no easily discernible reason, and no Western country is willing to risk the lives of its soldiers on African soil, as the Rwandan genocide so chillingly proved. If Congo’s coveted mineral resources can still be brought out to manufacture valued consumer goods without risky intervention, then there’s no need to do much more than the periodic news coverage or occasional non-profit awareness campaign. The lack of international effort on peace-making in the Congo is not only a statement of the devaluation of African lives, but the blatant inconsistency of so-called humanitarian principles.

 

Long overshadowed by crises and conflicts in more strategic, easily understood regions of the world where deploying soldiers and vast financial resources is accepted, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and so on,the Democratic Republic of Congo must matter, must be recognized and saved. Most of us will never set foot on the African continent or in the Congo, but we must learn more about it, and do more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins

 

AFRICAN AMERICA IS AT WAR

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICA

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON AFRICAN AMERICANS

THERE IS A RACE WAR ON BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

AMERICA'S RACISTS HAVE INFILTRATED AMERICAN POLICE FORCES TO WAGE A RACE WAR AGAINST BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA

THE BLACK RACE IS AT WAR

FIRST WORLD WAR:  THE APPROXIMATELY 6,000 YEAR WORLD WAR ON AFRICA AND THE BLACK RACE

Original Post

There are two statements that make me wonder about this. 

 

"The Democratic Republic of Congo exemplifies the risks and human cost that arise when world powers decide to put a nation together without regard for history, culture or geography. "

 

 

"Lack of U.S., world efforts to stop brutal war in Congo shows devaluation of African lives"

 

The first I don't disagree with, the second (in light of the first) makes me wonder about good intentions and genuine concern being used.

 

A commonality I've found among those who seriously discuss those issue continent wide are concerns (and outright distrust of most) of what's called R2P.  The question raised is does R2P mean, Responsibility to Protect or Right to Punish?  

   

Whenever there's a call for U.S. (read formal colonial powers) to militarily engage in ANY part of Africa (under the veil of humanitarianism......red flags go up! 

 

I don't think is the neglect of the international community to act, I think its the legacy of the international community (again colonial power) past actions, and current effort to destabilize the region for continued mineral extraction. 

 

 

Thus, there's' talks of a 'recolonization' of Africa............and it ain't by the Chinese.

Originally Posted by sunnubian:

"Thus, there's' talks of a 'recolonization' of Africa............and it ain't by the Chinese."

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Can you elaborate on this?

Give me a few days to revisit this.  I'll try and dig up some articles/lectures on this issue. 

 

Every now and again, the subject comes up in a much more clear fashion, (ie the invasion of Libya and then Secretary of State Clinton's "warning" while in Africa about Chinese Colonialism---which generated a lot of WTF articles....inside and outside the Continent.

 

IMHO the biggest problem with African conflicts is the thorniness of colonialism mixed with desire and attempts to "not go there" when discussing the issue when there's no real way around it.

 

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