The Curse of Intervention
Last year, in my Presidential Debate Q&A I discussed why I do not agree that the US (or Europe) should get involved in Sudan (or anywhere else in Africa). The main reason for this was that I believed that the interventions created or continued a mentality of dependency in the countries involved. Specifically, there would be no incentive for the people of Africa, well the people in the areas in conflict to work out their own problems since all one would have to wait for is the UN to come in and mediate an "agreement" and then get to share power. However; what was most problematic about outside aide was the fact that the reason why most of these conflicts can actually occur is due to outside influences. And for the record we need to recognize that China is a huge conmtributor to the wars in Africa. This does not get the press that it should but Chinese companies are in fact getting oil from Sudan and those monies keeps the Jangaweed armed.
The New York Times has published an article in their magazine section entitled: The Congo Casewhich more or less underscored my point. The article did not however, get into what brought the Congo into it's current situation. In a case of selective amnesia they place all the blame of the situation in the DRC on Rwanda, various militias and Mobutu:
South Kivu was a victim of the same neglect that almost every part of Congo suffered during the 32-year kleptocracy of Mobutu Sese Seko. But the region has endured an extra measure of suffering owing to its proximity to Rwanda. In 1994, thousands of Rwandan Hutu génocidaires fled across the border before the advancing Tutsi forces, settling in the rural areas of South and North Kivu and living off smuggling, ''taxes'' on local markets, kidnapping and plunder. Starting in late 1966, the Rwandan Army poured over the border and massacred its Hutu adversaries as well as thousands of civilians. After the Hutu threat had been suppressed, the Rwandan Army remained in the Kivus, turning much of eastern Congo into an economic protectorate. And when the Rwandan troops finally left under international pressure, the 10,000 to 15,000 remaining members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or F.D.L.R., as the Hutu militia called themselves, returned to their brutal exactions.
Congo's great problem is the same one that plagues so many African countries -- poor governance. But this technocratic term scarcely does justice to the self-perpetuating machine of immiseration that one Congolese leader after another has operated for over a century. King Leopold II of Belgium put the mechanism in motion in the 1880's when he reduced the tribes of the region to so many employees of companies devoted to sucking up Congo's treasures, principally ivory and rubber. The Belgians ultimately bequeathed the country a decent infrastructure, though they left it ludicrously unprepared for self-government. (At independence, none of Congo's 14 million citizens -- zero -- had university degrees in law, medicine or engineering.) Five years after independence, Mobutu toppled Congo's only elected president in a coup and instituted a home-grown version of Leopold's rapacity. Mobutu stole billions over the years, while the roads and hospitals and schools the Belgians had left behind disintegrated into the bush. Unlike the Belgian king, Mobutu lavished Congo's bounty on his collaborators, who frequently left a presidential audience with $5,000 or $10,000 in their pockets. Kabuya Lumuna, a former World Bank consultant who served as Mobutu's spokesman and deputy chief of cabinet in the last years, said: ''Mobutu created an image for the Congolese people that enrichment through the state was normal practice. It is normal for a person to say: 'I have finished my studies. If I can't get a government post, I will live my entire life in poverty.'''
It would have been historically accurate to discuss the fact that the first president of an independent DRC, was Patrice Lumumba who was assasinated and replaced, with the aid of US intelligence agencies, with Mobutu. This largely because Lumumba was willing to deal with the Soviets and spoke 'intemperently" to white folks (apparently there is no greater sin). It would also be informative that Mobutu enjoyed wide support from successive US Administrations. That single act of international terrorism by the US and Belgium is the cause for much of the DRC's problems. There is no telling how a proper Patrice administration would have turned out. But let's get back to current events.
When Aristide was deposed by so called "opposition" in Haiti, I discussed how the so called leadership of the "Opposition" was more concerned with power than by doing anything for the population. Each "opposition" movement seemed more intent on financing killing sprees and looting and gang warfare rather than the building of civil society. In the case of the Congo the same thing apparently holds true:
Later that afternoon, I drove out with a squad of soldiers in open transports with machine-gun mounts. We stopped at a plateau ringed by steep green hills. Here the men would stay for the next 12 hours: if word of an attack came from any of the government soldiers they had posted in the local villages, they would bounce down the rutted lanes and confront the rebels with gunfire if necessary. Maj. Mohammed Younis, the commanding officer, pointed out the local villages along the ridge lines and said, ''When we first began, in late March, we had three to four incidents every week.'' An F..D.L.R. raiding party would wait until nightfall and then attack a village, stealing food and raping women; they frequently kidnapped villagers, took them back to the forest and threatened to kill them if relatives didn't pay ransoms. But Operation Night Flash, as the Pakistanis called their nocturnal vigil, had at least temporarily closed down the crime wave. Younis said that there hadn't been an incident for close to a week.
Since the article freely admits that the Congo has no real government save that which aides in the removal of resources, then where and how are all these armed militias able to remain armed? Similarly for the contries that got themselves involved. None of them produce the weapons needed to sustain these wars. Thus while singers are asking for more aid for Africa, there is no discussion about the seemingly endless aid given to arms dealers and militias.
More importantly though, is the fact that we have "movements for Democracy" and "Fronts for Democracy" which provide nothing for their constituent groups. They provide no services, no schools, not anything. Clearly what is needed in Africa is not peacekeepers. It is not more aid, It is very simple in design though difficult to implement:
1) A complete arms embargo to any and all countries involved in some sort of war. You want to kill, you make your own weapons to do so.
2) A complete financial lock of any corporation or where arms are originating. This is perhaps the hardest one to do since most of Europe and China would be on the receiving end of such sanctions. SHould make for a good show in the UN though.
Of course I'm aware that since no.2 will not occur, then the whole plan goes down the tubes. So what will happen? The times offers a glimps which echos my original concern:
The Congolese I talked to want to be saved from themselves, or at least from their desperate predicament. Even those who accuse Monuc of spinelessness or complicity add immediately that of course the U.N. troops mustn't leave. They want more troops, not fewer, and more insistent political engagement...f we believe that in the post-9/11 world we can no longer afford to let failed states fester, then we plainly owe it to ourselves to stop the Congolese political class from preying on its people and to shape the nascent institutions of state in such a way as to give legitimate economic and political activity a decent shot at survival. Is that, in fact, a prescription for some kind of benevolent imperialism? If so, then bring it on.
I am in no way in suppoirt for imperialism, benevolent or otherwise, but there clearly needs to be some means to bring order and stability to the Congo and Sudan. A Pan-Africanist state could have dealt with this but so far the so-called leadership of Africa are too concerned with thier little fiefdoms to go that route.
It is clear that with the intervention of the "West" and China the people have lost faith in themselves to solve their own problems and would welcome thier former masters to come in and save them, thereby proving the idea that black folks are incapable of self rule.
read the entire article.