Author Topic: The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies  (Read 10102 times)

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Offline Biggs

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The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies

by Kambale Musavuli

Global Research, February 22, 2009
Online Journal - 2009-02-19

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two of Washington and London's staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents Rwanda's support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest expression of Rwanda's aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo's wealth by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008, United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda's role as the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II.

The report "found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defense Forces" to the DRC. The support is for the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N. reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo's exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures illegally exploiting Congo's wealth. His implication this time comes in financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame's Presidential Advisory Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of its aggression against the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda's CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of the land, theft of Congo's resources, and continuous human rights abuses caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create facts on the ground -- land expropriation, theft of cattle and other assets -- to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen's "Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?" in the New York Times reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila's government in the United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989 to 1993 argues, "Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product."

He adds, "The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles away." Continuing his argument, he believes that "the free movement of people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and Tanzania."

Cohen's first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means. Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to offer to its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due to Uganda's looting of Congo's natural resources and the commission of human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain's implication is becoming very clear. These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and, some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use in Congo to cause destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni's son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have suspended their financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers' support, we now see an estimated 6 million people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda's recent so-called "house arrest" of Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo's importance to Africa, it is remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for so long.

Rwanda's leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process; this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of Congo's wealth and devastation of its peoples.

 Global Research Articles by Kambale Musavuli

Offline Revolt426

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Soros-Man Organizes
A New Genocide in Congo

by Douglas DeGroot

Nov. 7—The London-based financial cartel has seized upon the flare-up of an anti-government rebellion, and resultant humanitarian crisis, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) province of North Kivu, as a pretext to target the sovereignty of any African nation that stands in the way of Brutish imperial designs.

The current Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British government with responsibility for Africa, Asia, and the United Nations,
Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, has called for British military intervention, indicating a shift to a more aggressive strategy by the financial cartel. The millions of people who have died in this region since 1998, never previously evoked this kind of professed concern, and call for direct action from the British.

At the same time that Malloch-Brown, who is a close associate of self-confessed Nazi-lover George Soros (see article, p. 31), was making his repeated calls for British intervention, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, in Saudi Arabia, that there was a danger of a repeat of Rwanda (a reference to the orchestrated 1994 genocide there) which, he said, must not be allowed to repeat itself. The British empire is preparing a more activist thrust against the nations of Africa, to drastically reduce their populations, a policy promoted by Henry Kissinger in his National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200), during the Nixon Administration. That memorandum states that available resources are dwindling worldwide, and that less-developed nations must reduce their populations so as not to use up the scarce resources coveted by the United States and Europe.

This British shift is taking place just before the installation of the U.S. Obama Administration, and the Brutish intend that the new reality being created on the ground in the D.R.C. will enable them to get the new American administration to implement a more activist anti-African policy of genocide.

What the British intend will make the Rwanda genocide in 1994, or that which has been taking place in eastern D.R.C. since 1998, seem moderate in comparison. An International Rescue Committee report in January 2008 put the number who have died in the eastern D.R.C. region since the second "Great War" began in August 1998, with invasions from Uganda and Rwanda, at 5.4 million. Most victims died from disease and starvation. That makes this war, and its continuing effects, the deadliest conflict since World War II. By comparison, in the often referred to 1994 anti-Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, at least 800,000 are said to have died.

The second "Great War," an ongoing Thirty Years War-style conflagration, was the second invasion of the D.R.C., backed by Uganda and Rwanda, which got near to the capital, Kinshasa, before it was turned back, with the aid of Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. The first invasion, in support of those in opposition to President Mobutu Sese Seko, in what was then called Zaire, led to the toppling of Mobutu, who, at the end of the "Cold War" was no longer needed by his former Western backers.

In the ten years since Mobutu has been out of power, the industrialized nations have done virtually nothing to help the D.R.C. become a viable, sovereign nation. No cooperation for significant infrastructural development has been forthcoming, and the industrial countries, themselves obsessed with security, have done nothing to help develop a strong, integrated army. Had this kind of aid been made available, the crisis being whipped up now would not be able to take place.

As a result, 80% of the population live in an insecure and vulnerable state of existence. It is very clear to any thinking observer, that the axioms of NSSM 200 are determining policy toward the D.R.C.

An African Solution?
A regional UN/African Union summit is taking place today, in Nairobi, Kenya. Before the summit, AU chairman, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, said that the AU was ready to take a leading role in the restoration of peace in North Kivu. He stressed that swift action was necessary to prevent escalation of the humanitarian crisis, calling for a ceasefire, in addition to building up the UN force. To this end, Kikwete called for support from regional leaders, and the international community. In attendance at the Nairobi meeting, besides Kikwete, were the Presidents of the D.R.C., Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and South Africa, in addition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, whom Ban has named special envoy for the North Kivu conflict.

An extraordinary summit of the Southern Africa Development Conference (SADC) set for Nov. 9 in South Africa, has also been called to discuss the D.R.C. crisis, as well as the situation in Zimbabwe.

The AU hopes to avoid foreign intervention by reinforcing the UN peacekeeping force in the D.R.C. Well aware of this, London financial forces had Malloch-Brown attend the summit in Nairobi today. Discussion of the D.R.C. situation in the House of Commons yesterday, expressed a great concern about violence toward civilians, and fully endorsed Malloch-Brown's trip.

After renegade Gen. Laurent Nkundabatware (usually referred to as Nkunda in the Western press) surrounded the city of Goma, Malloch-Brown said that EU military action in the D.R.C. cannot be ruled out, and reiterated, that, from the British standpoint, the military option is on the table. He said that plans for British intervention have been drawn up, and that British troops are on standby (using the pretext of providing security for aid convoys). African leaders, on the other hand, want to beef up the UN peacekeeping force from the present 17,000—of whom 6,000 are in eastern D.R.C. The peacekeepers' task is not easy since Nkunda's well-armed forces use hit-and-run tactics, and intermingle with the civilian population, making it very difficult for the UN forces to intervene to prevent harm to civilians.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband arrived in Kinshasa, on Oct. 31. British UN Ambassador John Sawyers said Miliband intended to push D.R.C. President Joseph Kabila to engage in direct talks with Nkunda, as Nkunda was demanding: "It's good for President Kabila to talk to Laurent Nkunda," said Sawyer, which is precisely what Nkunda has been saying. In sharp distinction to the British position of advocating talks with the rebel grouping, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is "fully backing" Kabila in the crisis. Kabila set up a transitional unity government in 2003, and Nkunda deserted some months later, in 2004.

Before Miliband traveled to Kinshasa, the London Guardian attacked the UN peacekeeping force, with the outrageous statement that the UN stood in the way of solving the problem, because it is picking sides in the conflict, by supporting the government.

Nkunda Challenges the Government
The latest flare-up of the crisis began Aug. 28, when Nkunda lit the fuse by breaking a peace agreement that his and 22 other armed groups had reached with the government on Jan. 23. The agreement had committed the groups to a ceasefire, and disengagement of their respective forces (Nkunda has an armed force of about 4,000, according to reports, and receives support via Rwanda).

Nkunda's forces surrounded Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, on Oct. 28. He halted his troops, and demanded that Kabila negotiate with him. He singled out the $9 billion joint venture deal Kabila had made with China, which he objects to. China is to provide $6 billion worth of road construction, two hydroelectric dams, and hospitals and schools, in addition to rail connections to southern Africa, and a railroad between the mineral-rich province of Katanga, in southern D.R.C., and the D.R.C.'s Atlantic port at Matadi, in return for copper and cobalt. Another $3 billion is to be invested primarily in developing new mining areas.

Strengthening the nation in this manner runs counter to the Brutish goal, which is shared by Nkunda, which may say something about how he is ultimately supported. He, along with other groups, run rogue mining operations in North Kivu, stealing minerals which they sell. Eastern D.R.C. is the second-richest mining area in the D.R.C., after Katanga in the South. The mineral merchant companies in Rwanda that buy these minerals, are no longer owned by the government, which has privatized them.

On Nov. 4, Nkunda threatened that if the government didn't talk to him on his terms, he would link up with other groups and overthrow Kabila. "We will continue fighting and we will fight all the way to Kinshasa," he said. That Nkunda would be able to do this with his 4,000 men, is considered ludicrous. No insurgency has been able to march from eastern D.R.C. to Kinshasa, in the past ten years, without the help of the Ugandan or Rwandan army. But until the D.R.C. has an adequately trained and equipped army, Nkunda will be able to keep the killing machine at work in North Kivu.

Kabila has refused to talk only to Nkunda, insisting on talking to all the groups in North Kivu. In addition to the over 20 militias, there are over 400 ethnic groups in the province, according to African sources. After Kabila's refusal, Nkunda's forces, over the last four days, asked the people to leave certain towns, and began systematically killing men who didn't heed their orders, according to news reports, because they considered them pro-government, and therefore, their enemies.

This activity is now being played up in the British press, allowing Malloch-Brown to militate for a greater role by Britain in this crisis, in order to bypass the UN and AU. Some are deluding themselves into thinking that because of the demands on Britain militarily, because of the Afghanistan deployment, the British won't have the troop strength to intervene into the D.R.C., and mess up the UN peacekeeping deployment. In fact, London's financial cartel would consider a British intervention into Africa, which would ultimately lead to a great population reduction, as having a higher strategic significance than Afghanistan, where other nations have been sucked in, to do little more than protect the drug production.

The intense ethnic conflict in Burundi and Rwanda, between Tutsis and Hutus, a legacy of the Belgian colonial period, continues to be the basis for manipulation in the region. No leader who ever tried to overcome this ethnic conflict, in either Rwanda or Burundi, has survived. The Tutsi-Hutu conflict has now spilled over into North Kivu, where members of both groups have migrated or fled. Nkunda is an example of this: He was born in the D.R.C., is a Tutsi, and fought alongside the Tutsi opposition in Rwanda, after the anti-Tutsi genocide there.

This conflict, which has claimed thousands of victims in both countries, has been easy for the London-based Anglo-Dutch financial cartel to manipulate. It provided the basis for the interventions into Congo, which was collapsing at an accelerating rate during the last seven years of the Mobutu dictatorship. In fact, the 1994 genocide was orchestrated by the British to worsen the conflict, and set in motion long-term prospects for destabilizing this part of Africa. No one outside the region who knew how it was set up, did anything to stop it.

D.R.C. Crises, New U.S. Administrations
The conflict in North Kivu is viewed ominously by concerned Africans because it is taking place right as a new administration is coming to power in the United States. African sources report that crises in the D.R.C. which have taken place before the installation of a new U.S. administration have. on previous occasions, been a signal for significant policy shifts. They note that on Jan. 16, 1961, nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba, who was allied with Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, was assassinated just days before John F. Kennedy's Jan. 20 inauguration. This occurred during a brawl between the newly independent Congo and the Anglo-Dutch financial cartel over who would control the country. Because of its mineral wealth and size, it was a potential economic powerhouse, once the Belgian policy of denying education and training were reversed. Kennedy was never able, during the short while he was President, to overcome the resulting manipulated chaos, and help get the country on a development track.

These sources also point to the assassination of President Laurent Kabila on Jan. 17, 2001, just before George W. Bush was inaugurated. They point out that Kabila, who succeeded Mobutu, had been opposed to taking on the massive debt, as demanded by the IMF/World Bank, that had been racked up by Mobutu. His son, Joseph Kabila, who succeeded him, got the message, and agreed to the IMF/World Bank demands. While these sources have no illusions that anything good would have happened for the D.R.C. during the Bush Presidency, this debt question was dramatically settled before Bush took office. As a result, the country was unable to develop, or to create a unified army, which has led to continued conflict. This left the way open for private arms dealers to supply local militias, feeding into the process of settling old scores, etc. Sources report that the EU had promised to help build up the D.R.C. military, but didn't do it.

In light of the recent blowup in North Kivu, Africans will be watching very closely to see if President Obama will play a leading role in implementation of a murderous de facto balkanization of eastern D.R.C. The fact that Soros, who is dedicated to wrecking nations, was a big funder of the Obama campaign, does not bode well. Neither does the report that Obama admires Malloch-Brown. These same networks are pressuring President-elect Obama to take strong action against the government of Sudan, because of the crisis resulting from the manipulated anti-government rebellion in Darfur.

Africans have also observed that some of the same figures who were in high-level positions in the United States when the 1994 Rwandan genocide was set up, have been gravitating to the Obama camp.

Eastern D.R.C. is one of the most fertile regions in Africa, and could become a breadbasket for the continent. But, if the Brutish scenario is played out, it will take the rest of the country down with it.
"Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate … It will purge the rottenness out of the system..." - Andrew Mellon, Secretary of Treasury, 1929.

Offline minscape

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According to news media Rwandan troops withdrew from the Congo in February.

I know this to be false. While I was there this June I witnessed lots of troops heading towards the border. We saw seven white UN trucks full of troops crossing into the Congo, along with a column of several hundred Rwandan troops marching towards the border. We were about 3 miles from the border when we saw them. I managed to capture a quick video out the window as we passed them. I'll be putting it on youtube soon enough. This was on June 13th. While  in the border region we also saw many troops combing fields, doing who knows what.

Rwanda is quite the staunch U.S. ally these days.

Also, when we were leaving the country (also when we left Uganda) the inside of our plane was sprayed down with terrible chemicals that made everyone cough for a few minutes. This was "to kill mosquitoes" that might have malaria. BS.

The political situation in Rwanda is rapidly deteriorating, especially as the outside world finds out the truth about the RPF. Once Kagame dies there will be a huge power vacuum and almost certainly another war, if not a genocide.

Offline Biggs

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According to news media Rwandan troops withdrew from the Congo in February.

I know this to be false. While I was there this June I witnessed lots of troops heading towards the border. We saw seven white UN trucks full of troops crossing into the Congo, along with a column of several hundred Rwandan troops marching towards the border. We were about 3 miles from the border when we saw them. I managed to capture a quick video out the window as we passed them. I'll be putting it on youtube soon enough. This was on June 13th. While  in the border region we also saw many troops combing fields, doing who knows what.

Rwanda is quite the staunch U.S. ally these days.

Also, when we were leaving the country (also when we left Uganda) the inside of our plane was sprayed down with terrible chemicals that made everyone cough for a few minutes. This was "to kill mosquitoes" that might have malaria. BS.

The political situation in Rwanda is rapidly deteriorating, especially as the outside world finds out the truth about the RPF. Once Kagame dies there will be a huge power vacuum and almost certainly another war, if not a genocide.

thank you for sharing your experiences, I am sorry to hear that Rwanda is again in a situation where things could go horribly wrong again, as if the people have not suffered enough.

Offline minscape

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Here's the video I was talking about. I started uploading my videos fro mthe trip last night. You can watch the account for more if you like

This was shot about 3 miles from the border. Only about half of the column is in the video; it took me a bit to get my camera out when we came across them.

And yes, this is my video.

Offline Biggs

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what strikes me when watching your videos is just how beautiful that part of the world looks, yet people associate it almost entirely with slaughter and suffering, not without reason there has been so much, but the beauty of the places really struck me in your brief videos, many thanks.

Offline bigron

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Conflict Minerals: A Cover For US Allies and Western Mining Interests?

by Kambale Musavuli and Bodia Macharia

November 28, 2009

As global awareness grows around the Congo and the silence is finally being broken on the current and historic exploitation of Black people in the heart of Africa, a myriad of Western based "prescriptions" are being proffered. Most of these prescriptions are devoid of social, political, economic and historical context and are marked by remarkable omissions. The conflict mineral approach or efforts emanating from the United States and Europe are no exception to this symptomatic approach which serves more to perpetuate the root causes of Congo’s challenges than to resolve them.

The conflict mineral approach has an obsessive focus on the FDLR and other rebel groups while scant attention is paid to Uganda (which has an International Court of Justice ruling against it for looting and crimes against humanity in the Congo) and Rwanda (whose role in the perpetuation of the conflict and looting of Congo is well documented by UN reports and international arrest warrants for its top officials). Rwanda is the main transit point for illicit minerals coming from the Congo irrespective of the rebel group (FDLR, CNDP or others) transporting the minerals. According to Dow Jones, Rwanda’s mining sector output grew 20% in 2008 from the year earlier due to increased export volumes of tungsten, cassiterite and coltan, the country’s three leading minerals with which Rwanda is not well endowed. In fact, should Rwanda continue to pilfer Congo’s minerals, its annual mineral export revenues are expected to reach $200 million by 2010. Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen says it best when he notes "having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product." As long as the West continues to give the Kagame regime carte blanche, the conflict and instability will endure.

According to Global Witness’s 2009 report, Faced With A Gun What Can you Do, Congolese government statistics and reports by the Group of Experts and NGOs, Rwanda is one of the main conduits for illicit minerals leaving the Congo. It is amazing that the conflict mineral approach shout loudly about making sure that the trade in minerals does not benefit armed groups but the biggest armed beneficiary of Congo’s minerals is the Rwandan regime headed by Paul Kagame. Nonetheless, the conflict mineral approach is remarkably silent about Rwanda’s complicity in the fueling of the conflict in the Congo and the fleecing of Congo’s riches.

Advocates of the conflict mineral approach would be far more credible if they had ever called for any kind of pressure whatsoever on mining companies that are directly involved in either fueling the conflict or exploiting the Congolese people. The United Nations, The Congolese Parliament, Carter Center, Southern Africa Resource Watch and several other NGOs have documented corporations that have pilfered Congo’s wealth and contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict. Some of these companies include but are not limited to: Traxys, OM Group, Blattner Elwyn Group, Freeport McMoran, Eagle Wings/Trinitech, Lundin, Kemet, Banro, AngloGold Ashanti, Anvil Mining, and First Quantum.

The conflict mineral approach, like the Blood Diamond campaign from which it draws its inspiration, is silent on the question of resource sovereignty which has been a central question in the geo-strategic battle for Congo’s mineral wealth. It was over this question of resource sovereignty that the West assassinated Congo’s first democratically elected Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba and stifled the democratic aspirations of the Congolese people for over three decades by installing and backing the dictator Joseph Mobutu. In addition, the United States also backed the 1996 and 1998 invasions of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda instead of supporting the non-violent, pro-democracy forces inside the Congo. Unfortunately and to the chagrin of the Congolese people, some of the strongest advocates of the conflict mineral approach are former Clinton administration officials who supported the invasions of Congo by Rwanda and Uganda. This may in part explains the militaristic underbelly of the conflict mineral approach, which has as its so-called second step a comprehensive counterinsurgency.

The focus on the east of Congo falls in line with the long-held obsession by some advocates in Washington who incessantly push for the balkanization of the Congo. Their focus on "Eastern Congo" is inadequate and does not fully take into account the nature and scope of the dynamics in the entire country. Political decisions in Kinshasa, the capital in the West, have a direct impact on the events that unfold in the East of Congo and are central to any durable solutions.

The central claim of the conflict mineral approach is to bring an end to the conflict; however, the conflict can plausibly be brought to an end much quicker through diplomatic and political means. The so-called blood mineral route is not the quickest way to end the conflict. We have already seen how quickly world pressure can work with the sidelining of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the demobilization and/or rearranging of his CNDP rebel group in January 2009, as a result of global pressure placed on the CNDP’s sponsor Paul Kagame of Rwanda. More pressure needs to be placed on leaders such as Kagame and Museveni who have been at the root of the conflict since 1996. The FDLR can readily be pressured as well, especially with most of their political leadership residing in the West, however this should be done within a political framework, which brings all the players to the table as opposed to the current militaristic, dichotomous, good-guy bad-guy approach where the West sees Kagame and Museveni as the "good-guys" and everyone else as bad. The picture is far grayer than Black and White.

A robust political approach by the global community would entail the following prescriptions:

1. Join Sweden and Netherlands in pressuring Rwanda to be a partner for peace and a stabilizing presence in the region. The United States and Great Britain in particular should apply more pressure on their allies Rwanda and Uganda to the point of withholding aid if necessary.

2. Hold to account companies and individuals through sanctions trafficking in minerals whether with rebel groups or neighboring countries, particularly Rwanda and Uganda. Canada has chimed in as well but has been deadly silent on the exploitative practices of its mining companies in the Congo. Canada must do more to hold its mining companies accountable as is called for in Bill C-300.

3. Encourage world leaders to be more engaged diplomatically and place a higher priority on what is the deadliest conflict in the World since World War Two.

4. Reject the militarization of the Great Lakes region represented by AFRICOM, which has already resulted in the suffering of civilian population; the strengthening of authoritarian figures such as Uganda’s Museveni (in power since 1986) and Rwanda’s Kagame (won the 2003 "elections" with 95 percent of the vote); and the restriction of political space in their countries.

5. Demand of the Obama administration to be engaged differently from its current military-laden approach and to take the lead in pursuing an aggressive diplomatic path with an emphasis on pursuing a regional political framework that can lead to lasting peace and stability.

Kambale Musavuli is spokesperson and student coordinator for Friends of the Congo. He can be reached at [email protected]. Bodia Macharia is the President of Friends of the Congo/ Canada. She can be reached at [email protected]. Read other articles by Kambale Musavuli, or visit Kambale Musavuli's website.


Offline bigron

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Orphaned, Raped and Ignored


February 02, 2010 "New York Times" January 31, 2010 -- Sometimes I wish eastern Congo could suffer an earthquake or a tsunami, so that it might finally get the attention it needs. The barbaric civil war being waged here is the most lethal conflict since World War II and has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake.

Yet no humanitarian crisis generates so little attention per million corpses, or such a pathetic international response.

That’s why I’m here in the lovely, lush and threatening hills west of Lake Kivu, where militias rape, mutilate and kill civilians with a savagery that is almost incomprehensible. I’m talking to a 9-year-old girl, Chance Tombola, an orphan whose eyes are luminous with fear.

For Chance, the war arrived one evening last May when armed soldiers from an extremist Hutu militia — remnants of those who committed the Rwandan genocide — burst into her home. They killed her parents in front of her. Chance ran away, but the soldiers seized her two sisters, ages 6 and 12, and carried them away into the forest, presumably to be turned into “wives” of soldiers. No one has seen Chance’s sisters since.

Chance moved in with her aunt and uncle and their two teenage daughters. Two months later, the same militia invaded the aunt’s house and held everyone at gunpoint. Chance says she recognized some of the soldiers as the same ones who had killed her parents.

This time, no one could escape. The soldiers first shot her uncle, and then, as the terrified family members sobbed, they pulled out a large knife.

“They sliced his belly so that the intestines fell out,” said his widow, Jeanne Birengenyi, 34, Chance’s aunt. “Then they cut his heart out and showed it to me.” The soldiers continued to mutilate the body, while others began to rape Jeanne.

“One takes a leg, one takes the other leg,” Jeanne said dully. “Others grab the arms while one just starts raping. They don’t care if children are watching.”

Chance added softly: “There were six who raped her. One raped me, too.”

The soldiers left Jeanne and Chance, tightly tied up, and marched off into the forest with Jeanne’s two daughters as prisoners. One daughter is 14, the other 16, and they have not been heard from since.

“They kill, they rape, burn houses and take people’s belongings,” Jeanne said. “When they come with their guns, it’s as if they have a project to eliminate the local population.”

A peer-reviewed study found that 5.4 million people had already died in this war as of April 2007, and hundreds of thousands more have died as the situation has deteriorated since then. A catastrophically planned military offensive last year, backed by the governments of Congo and Rwanda as well as the United Nations force here, made some headway against Hutu militias but also led to increased predation on civilians from all sides.

Human Rights Watch estimates that for every Hutu fighter sent back to Rwanda last year, at least seven women were raped and 900 people forced to flee for their lives. “From a human rights perspective, the operation has been catastrophic,” concluded Philip Alston, a senior United Nations investigator.

This is a pointless war — now a dozen years old — driven by warlords, greed for minerals, ethnic tensions and complete impunity. While there is plenty of fault to go around, Rwanda has long played a particularly troubling role in many ways, including support for one of the militias. Rwanda’s government is dazzlingly successful at home, but next door in Congo, it appears complicit in war crimes.

Jeanne and Chance contracted sexually transmitted diseases. Like other survivors in areas that are accessible, they receive help from the International Rescue Committee, but Chance still suffers pain when she urinates.

Counselors say that most raped women are rejected by their husbands, and raped girls like Chance have difficulty marrying. In an area west of Lake Kivu where attacks are continuing, I met Saleh Bulondo, a newly homeless young man who was educated and spoke a little English. I asked him if he would still marry his girlfriend if she were raped.

“Never,” he said. “I will abandon her.”

A girl here normally fetches a bride price (a reverse dowry, paid by the husband’s family) when she marries. A village chief told me that a typical price would be 20 goats — but if the girl has been raped, two goats. At most.

Thus it takes astonishing courage for Jeanne and Chance to tell their stories (including in a video posted with the on-line version of this column). I’ll be reporting more from eastern Congo in the coming days, hoping that the fortitude of survivors like them can inspire world leaders to step forward to stop this slaughter. It’s time to show the same compassion toward Congo that we have toward Haiti.


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They still cut off each others hands in Congo. Its a traumatised country

I guess the european elites were so impressed with Belgium they made it home of the EU

Offline bigron

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April 30 - May 2, 2010

Obama's Rwanda?

The Slaughter in the Congo


On a trip to Rwanda in March 1998, President Bill Clinton issued what has come to be known as the "Clinton apology." Speaking on the Kigali Airport tarmac, he (in)famously stated: "We come here today partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the world community did not do as much as we could have and should have done to try to limit what occurred [in Rwanda].” He then added in true Clintonesque style:

It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in offices, day after day after day, who did not fully appreciate [pause] the depth [pause] and the speed [pause] with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.

By “unimaginable terror,” Clinton was referring to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 in which Hutus, in a campaign orchestrated by the Hutu-led government, slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu political moderates. “We did not act quickly enough after the killing began,” he apologized. “We should not have allowed the refugee camps to become safe havens for the killers. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide.”

In this mea culpa, “Slick Willie” artfully dodged his and U.S. culpability in facilitating the genocide. As the old adage asks: What did he know and when did he know it? According to Samantha Power, the Harvard foreign policy scholar and now with the Obama National Security Council, Clinton woke up to the horrors of Rwanda while reading a “New Yorker” article by Philip Gourevitch. She reports that he forwarded the article to his national-security adviser, Sandy Berger, demanding: "’How did this happen?,” adding, ‘I want to get to the bottom of this.’"

And getting to the bottom of it he surely didn’t. As Power reminds us, “The President's urgency and outrage were oddly timed. As the terror in Rwanda had unfolded, Clinton had shown virtually no interest in stopping the genocide, and his Administration had stood by as the death toll rose into the hundreds of thousands.” [Power, “Bystanders to Genocide,” Atlantic, September 2001]

Clinton, secretary of state Madeleine Albright and others within his administration knew for years what was taking place in Rwanda and did little to halt the genocide. After the bloodletting ceased, Clinton awoke from a somnambulist stupor, saxophone in hand, and, being America’s “first black president,” flew to Kigali to apologize. His apology rang hollow to those who had suffered due to Clinton’s inaction.

The question before President Obama is whether he will, like Clinton and many other of his predecessor, awake from his presidential slumber in a few years and travel to Kinshasa to make yet another apology for his and his administration’s failed policies with regard to the slaughter taking place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)? Standing aside in the face of horrendous slaughter, be it formally “genocide” or another form of mass killing, rape and pillage, is as American as apple pie. Sadly, Obama seems to be continuing this ignoble tradition.

* * *

The DRC has been in a state of war since 1994 when the Rwanda Genocide spilled across its eastern border. Civil struggle, ethnic conflicts, foreign invasions and battles over mineral wealth have repeatedly overwhelmed this fragile country. Estimates of those killed since the outbreak of the “First Congo War” in 1996 range from 3 million (Human Security Report) to 5.4 million (International Rescue Committee). No matter which estimate one accepts, the ongoing slaughter taking place in the DRC represents the greatest bloodletting since World War II.

Oxfam International recently released a study, “Now, The World Is Without Me," assessing the growing horror of violence being inflicted on the noncombatant population in the DRC, especially the systematic campaign of rape of women and young girls. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative conducted the study. More than 4,000 rape victims were interviewed from 2004 to 2008 in a hospital in the eastern city of Bukavu.

Rape has long been an instrument of war, a tactic used to terrorize the noncombatant population. [See “’The Hard Hand of War’: Rape as an Instrument of Total War,” CounterPunch, April 4, 2008] In the DRC, members of the Congolese army, Rwandan militias and armed gangs have raped tens of thousands of women. According to the Oxfam report, there has been a 17-fold increase in civilian rape over the past few years. More than 9,000 people, including men and boys, were raped in 2009.

The study’s findings are deeply disturbing:

# 60 percent of rape victims surveyed were gang raped by armed men;

# 56 percent of assaults were carried out in the family home by armed men;

# 16 percent took place in fields and almost 15 percent in the forest;

# 57 percent of assaults were carried out at night.

Sexual slavery was also reported, affecting 12 percent of the women with some being held captive and repeatedly raped for years.

More revealing as to the spread of the “fog of war” to civil society is the finding that in 2008 civilians committed 38 percent of the rapes, compared to less than 1 percent in 2004. The study notes: "These findings imply a normalisation of rape among the civilian population, suggesting the erosion of all constructive social mechanisms that ought to protect civilians from sexual violence."

Rape is an act of violation and, in a traditional or patriarchal society, a mark of shame often borne by the victim for years. The Oxfam study reports that female rape victims feel stigmatized by the act of violation, that they are somehow responsible for the crime perpetrated against them. They often are rejected by the their families and 9 percent report being abandoned by their spouse. They often do not seek medical care for fear of being identified as a victim; only 12 percent come to the local hospital within a month of the assault and over half of the women waited more than a year before seeking treatment. Sadly, very few women came for treatment in time to prevent HIV infection.

“Rape of this scale and brutality is scandalous," said Krista Riddley, director of Oxfam's humanitarian policy. "This is a wake-up call at a time when plans are being discussed for UN peacekeepers to leave the country. The situation is not secure if a woman can't even sleep safely in her own bed at night." Susan Bartels, Harvard’s chief researcher, warns, "Sexual violence has become more normal in civilian life. … The scale of rape over Congo's years of war has made this crime seem more acceptable."

* * *

America has a long history of denying immoral socio-political barbary. It starts with Thomas Jefferson, who not only wrote eloquently as to the rights of human subjects, but accepted the horrors of slavery as part of the fabric of the new nation and, as a slave-owner, fathered six children with a slave woman he clearly loved.

Andrew Jackson, the valiant commander of the victorious forces in the Battle of New Orleans, waged a vicious war against America’s native people, most notably his slaughter of the Seminole and Creek Indians in 1817. As he advised, "We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war."

The first modern genocidal war took place amidst World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Between 1915-1916, Turkish troops slaughtered an estimated 1 to 1.5 million ethnic Albanians. Efforts by Woodrow Wilson to make Armenia an official U.S. protectorate were rejected by Congress in 1920; however, later that year, the Republic of Armenia was established.

As the climate for America’s entry into the 1940s European conflict intensified into what would become a second world war, it is now clear that Franklin Roosevelt and his closest advisors knew about Nazi anti-Semitism, concentration camps and the mass imprisonment of Jews. Whether they knew that Jews and others were being exterminated in gas chambers remains an open question.

Nevertheless, Roosevelt approved Operation Thunderclap, the firebombing of Dresden in which tens of thousand of noncombatants were incinerated. He also seems to have known of mad-dog Curtis LeMay’s plan to firebomb Tokyo and other Japanese cities and kill hundreds of thousand of noncombatants. More so, he approved the development of the nuclear weaponry that would incinerate noncombatants in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. FDR did not live long enough to give the final order to bomb Japan; this honor fell to his replacement, Harry Truman.

In the half-century since the end of world war, mass slaughter has been institutionalized. China’s politically-orchestrated famine of1958-1961 saw between 15 and 40 million people suffer and die. An estimated one million people were killed due to the partition of Pakistan; two million were exterminated in the Cambodian genocide of 1975-1979. During this period, American’s great conservative leader, Ronald Reagan, approved the killing of tens of thousands of populists in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and other parts of Latin America. Clinton’s decision to have NATO undertake a 78-day bombing assault on Serbia in 1999 seems to be the lesson he learned from his failure to halt the Rwanda Genocide. However, the terrorization of noncombatants and the rape of the civilian female population taking place in the Congo signals a new, degenerate, stage in modern warfare.

President Obama is not unaware of the horrors of that defile the Congo. As a Senator, he sponsored a bill approved in December 2006 to provide relief and promote democracy in Congo. He also cited rape in the Congo as part of his Nobel Prize speech rationalizing just war:

Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one. … The same principle applies to those who violate international laws by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur, systematic rape in Congo, repression in Burma – there must be consequences.

So, what are the consequences for the continuing slaughter inflicted in the Congo?

So far these consequences seem only cosmetic. In 2009, Hillary Clinton visited the Congo, only her non-diplomatic outburst due a translation error garnered headlines while the ongoing ware in the DRC was ignored. Obama appointed Howard Wolpe as a special advisor for the region. One only wonders whether he will be any more successful then his colleagues Sen. George Mitchell for Israel-Palestine and Richard Holbrooke for Afghanistan-Pakistan.

Sadly, as DRC President Joseph Kabila is seeking to have the UN’s 20,000 peacekeeping mission withdrawn, the decision by Obama’s UN representative Susan Rice to not participate in the Security Council’s scheduled visit to the DRC helped scuttle the trip. This may signal the UN’s capitulation to Kabila’s demands.

Having visited Rwanda in the wake of the 1994 slaughter, Rice remarked: “I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing corpses outside and inside a church. Corpses that had been hacked up. It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen.” Apparently truly shocked, she added, “It makes you mad. It makes you determined. It makes you know that even if you’re the last lone voice and you believe you’re right, it is worth every bit of energy you can throw into it.”

One can only wonder where Rice’s anger, along with that of Obama and Clinton, are with regard to the rape and murder taking place in eastern Congo? Most likely, if the UN peacekeepers are withdrawn, the slaughter will increase and more women will be victims of rape and abuse.

David Rosen is the author of “Sex Scandals America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming” (Key, 2009); he can be reached at [email protected]

Offline bigron

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Media Coverup on the Corporate Pillage and Destruction of sub-Saharan Africa

by Dr. P. Wilkinson

Global Research, May 2, 2010

Noting that periodically sub-Saharan Africa receives some attention in the US and at least since Mr Clinton moved into the Big House has occasionally been given attention by news and pundits-- of all persuasions-- I remain struck by the determination to treat the events in the Congo Basin/ East Africa as unique and detached deformities of the Dark Continent. Reporting and commentary acquire more colour and sparkle but once squeezed into view, reveal themselves to be the same dubious paste of unknown content. This situation has by no means improved now that the Big House is occupied by a man of Kenyan and Kansan descent. One example washed through the US liberal journal, Atlantic, is an article by Samantha Powers. The writing to the Left is not much better since with few exceptions her assumptions are shared widely across the North American and European political spectrum.

Rwanda is not unique-- despite the attempts to wrap it in its very own "war crimes tribunal" (ICTR). In fact the proper comparison for Rwanda is Indonesia (1965) where a million odd were murdered at the insistence of US and UK corporate interests represented by their governments overtly and covertly. The US and its international harem of corporate-driven states used the same tactics in Rwanda that they did when they gave Suharto the green light to annihilate anyone who might be capable of continuing support for the post-colonial nationalism of Sukarno. This is the genealogy that needs to be reported: Congo's Lumumba (1960), Ghana's Nkrumah (1966), Indonesia's Sukarno were just the most prominent personalities murdered or forced into exile to prevent the people of their respective countries from attaining independence and control over their own resources.

Despite the work by veterans like Stockwell, Agee, et al. who detail first hand the USG function as enforcer of corporate control over the resources of former colonies and dependencies or even the journalistic efforts of people like Kwitney, Blum, and others to record the heinous conduct of corporations that could be named, the "news" and "commentary" rarely takes even the barest notice of what could be found in an hour's desk research. Banalities are uttered about the government's dramatis personaewithout even checking their official biographies-- which often enough show the slug-like slime trail of their careers in corporate or covert action.

Just to take some typical examples, reporting of the diplomatic missions of deceased General Vernon Walters and current US pro-consul in Central Asia, Richard Holbrooke, involves routinely ignoring their ignominious careers providing ground support US-sponsored terror regimes -- although this information would have made their conduct for more comprehensible to the reader. Sometimes the reporting is so myopic that the author has apparently neglected to read anything else published in the same medium or as in the case of one broadcaster reporting on a "colour" movement in Iran, neglected to review even her own past reporting on the same subject.

Another curiosity is that in media obsessed with statistics there are rarely if any cumulative reports of the death tolls. Reporting incidental daily figures in isolation prevents anyone from grasping the volume or proportion of deaths and casualties, either absolutely or relatively. Everyone can quote 6 million Jews. Those with somewhat more circumspect mental faculties include the 20 million who died because of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. However who can say how many Africans have been murdered in the Congo Basin. Never mind those who still dispute the number of deaths in the "triangular trade". The Société Générale destroyed the records for the Belgian contribution but despite almost constant UN presence in the region there are no reliable totals. Those that are used pertain almost entirely to the Rwanda case as if the rest of the Congo had been pacified since 1960. Are we to believe that if we have no memory of African history then no one in Africa does either? Of course the only parts of Africa that receive any coverage are those where there is visible fighting. The "peaceful" plunder of the remainder of the continent goes largely ignored.

Americans-- and as a result those bombarded with US media too-- are saturated with stories about the extractive practices of the NSDAP regime (well supported by all the major extractive corporations on the Allied side). People here and in the US can repeat from memorising (to call it memory would be gross distortion) often incomplete, inaccurate or downright false statements about the operation of our government under the NSDAP. Yet no one can say anything coherent about more than two centuries of vicious extraction from Africa-- let alone the ongoing theft and murder. People standing at the bar over a drink can chat away about "lampshades" made from the skin of murdered KZ prisoners. Yet no one can say a word about the men, women and children who were disfigured, tortured, murdered and robbed by American and European corporations to supply free copper or other raw materials for super-profits. A footnote some time ago explained that one of the rare materials (coltan) in the Congo basin is a mineral needed for cell-phone production. Do iPhone-linked liberals think about the corporate mass murder in the Congo which contributes to their exclusive and stylish 24-7 reachability? Certainly almost no one reports about it. Roger Casement was probably the last person to report the high crimes of the Congo in any depth and he was destroyed as a person by the Belgian and British States for doing it.

So perhaps it is dangerous to publish the whole story-- not the one that focuses on the Tarzan-vision of Africans-- when talking about Rwanda, Burundi, and Congo. Authors who are fixated on the violent results rather than the chain of causality, make the same mistakes repeatedly. But maybe these are not mistakes. Maybe this is the real purpose of such articles, to confirm the prejudices with spice. Mr Clinton's "apology" for neglecting the Rwanda crisis had nothing to do with being "black" in even the most absurd sense of this deceit, reported by at least one commentator. Like most US presidential posing it was duplicitous.

The massacres were not the tragic rage of peasants in factional warfare but the orchestrated assault on broad swathes of the population with machetes bought en masse and deployed by death squads of the same calibre US and UK governments have organised in every part of the world to murder and demoralise rural populations. Neither Clinton needed to know any of this. Whether Mr Clinton did is also immaterial. His posturing was part of the campaign in part orchestrated by the institutions like the IRC to sell a new brand of "missionary"-style intervention to defend corporate plunder.

In the 19th century Christian missionaries were sent into target countries-- usually with generous support by whatever companies had a financial interest in the territory. The provocation of aggressive and caustic Christendom normally triggered resistance and such resistance was then marketed at home as brutal native savagery against "peaceful Christian missionaries". (In fact it could be argued that the sole reason why Christendom is so obsessively described as "peace-loving and humble" at home is to mask its thousand-year history of filthy, brutal, self-righteous greed.) Thus the protective forces of the sending State acquired a pretext for invasion and slaughter, followed by occupation of the targeted lands and enslavement of the local labour. Today this doctrine and strategy is called "humanitarian interventionism". While in the Big House, Mr Clinton was its principal missionary. People like the Bush presidents spared us the hypocrisy of humanitarianism, preferring the more overt language of "full spectrum dominance" and "global war" etc.

There is still no common coherent recognition of US imperial policy in Asia starting with the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth. Yet only by taking seriously the emergent US vision of Japan as a base for US force projection fed by the rice bags from Korea and Indochina (elaborated esp. in Vol. 2 of Bruce Cumings Origins of the Korean War) can one grasp the tenacity of US aggression in the region. In Latin America there was at least nominal independence so the actions there are properly treated as invasions and subversion. None of this has really stopped and when it did, was rarely more than for "the pause that refreshes"-- soft drink diplomacy, so to speak.

Before it was the "white man's burden" and "manifest destiny". Then it became development and anti-communism. Now it is "humanitarian intervention" and "globalisation". These are all re-branding for the same vicious, greedy practices of an elite raised in filth and hypocrisy, to put it nicely. As Noam Chomsky has often said (see also an interview posted to GR) there is a tendency to focus on governments as if they were the only actors in international affairs. This has not been the case at least since the British crown chartered the Honourable East India Company in 1708.

The reporting today reminds me of an experience I had in the not too distant past. For whatever reason, mainly habit, I have used the same brand of white toothpaste for decades. Periodically the packaging and labelling are changed so that it is impossible to detect from the now five or six different variants of toothcare substance under the same brand the plain white paste that I have been using since I was a child. I cannot say whether this toothpaste is of particularly high quality but it has the least repulsive taste and feel of all the stuff I have had to try on various occasions in my life. No one in the store could tell me which of the packages contained plain white toothpaste. Of course the same product is still made but in the pathological determination to disguise a standard product with novelty even the name is changed at varying intervals. The machine for marketing this firm's product cannot grasp the notion of clear and consistent labelling for its standard product(s). In fact there is no interest at all in selling products which one can understand and/ or identify.

That is the way most people write about current events-- especially those which are not new but comprise standard products produced more or less the same for decades or centuries. There is no interest in the reader recognising the product for what it is. The reader has also become addicted to this planned ignorance and no longer even asks about the genuine product content-- happy as he or she is to see new packaging, the more sparkling the better.

It would be an enormous assistance to readers to identify the product in consistent and clear ways rather than presenting and re-presenting the "events" as if they were new, simply because of the need to dazzle with new packaging (presidential or ambassadorial as the case may be).

Some stores here and probably in the US offer the option of disposing of the outer packaging of an item bought-- at the checkout before leaving the store. One idea is to encourage the store to reduce the amount of packaging the customer is obliged to take home and to aggregate the collection of such waste and recyclables. But the question remains-- why should the packaging be necessary in the first place? Well maybe before writing an article about a "news" product, the same question ought to be asked: why is the "news" packaging needed? Much fuss is made about government secrecy but this is truly exaggerated. The main reason people are misinformed is not government secrecy but the continuous re-packaging of low-fact paste and its witting and unwitting distribution by lazy or somnambulant journalists and pundits. Maybe the most ecological way to inform readers is to write the story, the history, without the dazzle and sparkles designed to distract-- to allow the reader to see the facts on the shelf plainly.

That would be an enormous improvement in the original product indeed.


Offline bigron

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Published on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 by Foreign Policy in Focus

Congo's Quest for Liberation Continues

by Bahati Ntama Jacques and Beth Tuckey

Congo has long been the focus of resource exploitation. The first era of colonization in Africa, beginning in the mid-1880s, was most pronounced in this central African country. Belgium's King Leopold brutalized the population in his quest for rubber and riches, leaving a legacy of natural resource exploitation by white Europeans in the heart of Africa.

Today, at the 50th anniversary of Congo's independence, the country continues to be a source of wealth for the world, yet the Congolese people live in poverty. Like many African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is suffering under this new era of neocolonialism, where natural resources belong not to those who live on the land but to those with power and access to global markets.

The pursuit of true independence and liberation in Congo will continue until foreign nations cease their policies of exploitation.

History of Violence
When Patrice Lumumba began agitating for independence in early 1960, there was great hope that Congolese people would benefit from the resources of their land, lifting the country out of poverty and into an era of prosperity. Instead, after nearly three months in office as Congo's first elected prime minister, Lumumba was deposed in a coup and four months later killed in a plot orchestrated by the Belgian government with the complicity of the United States. Mobutu Sese Seko, a staunch opponent of communism, took power in a CIA-backed coup and became one of Africa's most brutal dictators. He drove Congo — which he named Zaire — into ruin.

In 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo and forced Mobutu to flee, while a new leader, Laurent Kabila, rose to power. Since then, eastern Congo has been mired in conflict, overrun by rebel groups and government militias, each of which seeks control of Congo's vast wealth. It's estimated [1] that between 1998 and 2007, 5.4 million people died in DRC as a direct or indirect result of conflict. Meanwhile, the world has come to depend on minerals such as tungsten, tin, and coltan, used in electronics and sophisticated weaponry, which come primarily from the Congo. Western love for the Congo has always been for its resources, never its people, which explains the lack of any genuine interest in helping to build Congo's state capacity.

Lack of transparency or regulation in the mining industry in Congo makes it nearly impossible to prevent the sale of conflict minerals in electronic products. And although many companies have expressed interest in disclosing their supply chain information, tracing which minerals come from the conflict zone in eastern Congo remains a significant challenge.

In the 110th session of Congress, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Conflict Minerals Trade Act [2] "to improve transparency and reduce trade in conflict minerals," and Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-KS) introduced the companion Senate legislation [3] "to require annual disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission of activities involving columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, and wolframite from the Democratic Republic of Congo." Also in May, Brownback was able to attach a related amendment [4] into the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which passed the Senate and is being reconciled with the House version of financial reform. While an admirable start considering the inadequate U.S. government attention paid to Congo, such legislation is only a small part of a more holistic policy shift needed to address the economic colonization of DRC.

America: Part of the Problem?
The United States can do much more to promote true security and prosperity in Congo.  However, time and time again the United States has been part of the problem. In 2008, the United States was among a group of nations that negotiated the premature and hasty integration of former rebel forces of the Rwanda-backed rebel group, the National Council for the Defense of the People (CNDP) into the Congolese national army. These Rwandan troops, as part of the national army, today represent a serious threat to sustainable peace in eastern Congo.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Rwanda relationship continues to be very problematic as far as peace and stability in Congo is concerned. From 2000 to 2009, the United States provided $1.034 billion to Rwanda when its government was occupying large territories in Congo and plundering Congolese resources. While Washington argues that it never intended to aid the Rwandan invasion in the Congo, U.S. financial support possibly helped the Rwandan government secure money within its budget to wage the deadly war.

As a senator, Barack Obama introduced legislation [5], ultimately signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush, that requires the U.S. Secretary of State to "withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961…other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo."

But it wasn't the United States, ironically, that took action. Sweden and the Netherlands, after looking at the evidence of Rwandan involvement in the conflict in the Congo made available by a UN panel of experts' report in 2008, threatened to withhold their financial support to Rwanda. This action, which drew international attention to the issue, held the Rwandan government accountable by requesting an immediate withdrawal of its troops from the Congo. Instead of following suit, the United States participated in the misleading and failed integration of former CNDP forces into the Congolese army. So far, the Obama administration shows no sign of implementing the legislation that Sen. Obama worked so hard to promote. The key to the U.S. relationship with Rwanda is rooted in access to Congo's resources.

Congo as Heart
All governments must enact strict laws against the import of products that fuel conflict, use child labor, or otherwise support human rights violations in Africa. Companies should also be forced to pay fines and reparations to communities they have damaged in the creation of their goods.

But at the same time, and equally as important, governments must work to engage Africa in the global economy in a way that encourages human security. Although coltan and tungsten fuel deadly conflict in eastern Congo, they also provide local people with jobs and some means of income. The Congolese government, with the support of the international community, should ensure that those local people reap the true benefits of their labor, which requires strict attention to worker's rights. In this way, Congo and the outside world can partner to advance resource sovereignty and local ownership.

Congo is the heart of Africa. Yet, after 50 years of political independence, it still does not beat on its own. Nor does it sustain the health of other African counties. Lumumba once famously said, "free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese." The liberation of Congo — which is a key part of the liberation of all of Africa — requires that people in countries that profit from Congo's wealth stand in solidarity with those who rightfully own it. That means, most importantly, taking action as citizens and pushing governments to create more responsible policies toward central Africa regarding the use of its natural resources.

Bahati Ntama Jacques, a Congolese national, is policy analyst at the Africa Faith & Justice Network in Washington, DC. Beth Tuckey, former associate director at Africa Faith & Justice Network, is currently an executive intern with Africa Action in Washington, DC. They are both contributors to Foreign Policy In Focus.


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Saving the Congo, Or Not: One Piece At A Time

by Netfa Freeman

July 1, 2010

The most resource-rich region of Africa also "experiences the least socio-political and economic control over its 'riches’ than any other part of Africa. Fifty years after nominal independence, the Democratic Republic of Congo – where five million have died in the past decade and a half – remains a victim of "the foreign political and economic machinations that have made peaceful progress in the Congo impossible."

Congo: One Piece At A Time

by Netfa Freeman

"Why is there is a Save Darfur Campaign, but no Save Congo Campaign?"

June 30th should mark 50 years of independence for the Democratic Republic of Congo but not everyone is celebrating. The DRC, as it is commonly known, is the richest area on the African continent. But it has almost no populuar control over its wealth, even by African standards. The security and sovereignty that should accompany 50 years of independence does not go well with the reality of today's Congo, with a fourteen-year resource conflict claiming six million lives and hundreds of thousands of women raped.

The so-called "genocide" in Darfur pales in comparison to the situation in Congo but it is plain to see that it is treated as just the opposite. On June 2, the body of Floribert Chebeya, a noted DR Congolese human rights leader, was found tied up in the back seat of his car. Chebeya died of "unknown causes" after being summoned to meet the head of the national police force in Kinshasa on the previous evening. The masses of Congolese are demanding an independent investigation into his murder but tellingly not nearly receiving the commensurate support for this just demand from the "international community," a term often used as code for the Western governments, and those within their sphere of influence.

Only the deliberately blind among social justice advocates can fail to see the connection between the present state of Africa in general and Congo in particular versus imperialism on the other side. There are those, however, who claim to work on behalf of the interests of Africa and her people, claim to work for the interests of Congolese but who insist on embracing an approach out of sync with the lessons of history and out of sync with the current exigencies of Africa and her children, scattered and suffering throughout the world.

"The whole of Africa saw a series of coup d'états, assassinations and destabilization measures designed to stem a growing movement for a liberated and united continent."

During the same period that the CIA conspired with Belgium and other imperialist forces to murder Congo’s democratically elected Patrice Lumumba (January 1961) the whole of Africa saw a series of coup d'états, assassinations and destabilization measures designed to stem a growing continental movement for a liberated and united continent. This is the historical context that should inform any understanding of what is at stake, that should illuminate the only way forward to the realization of true independence for Congo in particular and Africa in general. By and large White liberals working on Congo and Africa issues do not truly respect and cannot acknowledge the natural connection of African-Americans as ultimately African. There is an unspoken denial among them of the fact that as Black people we have an inseparable and vested interest in a truly liberated Congo and united Africa. Because for them to acknowledge this means their approach to justice work regarding Congo would have to give deference to Pan-African ideals and mean challenging Western governments and corporations with words and ways that they are not prepared to stand by.

They instead hold on to the belief that justice for Africa and thus Congo can be realized by a piece-meal approach; that is, seeking to reform the US government’s Africa policy country by country and issue by issue. They are comfortable with simply appealing to the moral conscience of those in power who, as a group have no morals and have no conscience.

Furthermore, accepting that "African-Americans" are not simply "fellow Americans" who share the same interest toward Congo as they, means nonprofit organizations whose mission it is to "bring a just US policy toward Africa" should be made up predominantly of African/Black people and be guided by African/Black conclusions and analyses that are not beholden to the dispositions of the status quo and the Non-profit Industrial Complex. The truth is, after all, that we are an African people whose destiny is inseparably entwined with the fate of Congo in particular and Africa in general. This is a view that gets at best a blank stare or an uncomfortable smile from most White liberals.

"Nkrumah outlined the foreign political and economic machinations that have made peaceful progress in the Congo impossible."

Congo’s vast mineral resources, geographical position and ecological potential for providing electrical power to the whole continent and beyond gives it a vital role in the movement for a truly liberated Africa and anti-imperialist world. The late Kwame Nkrumah, first president of Ghana and a prime ideologue to the African liberation movement wrote the book Challenge of The Congo; A Case Study of Foreign Pressure in an Independent State. In this instructive work Nkrumah outlines the foreign political and economic machinations that have made peaceful progress in the Congo impossible. Nkrumah was the African head of state most closely involved in attempts to preserve Congo from the clutches of imperialism between its independence in June of 1960 to January of 1961, and tried to save the life of our beloved Patrice Lumumba. The most valuable feature of Nkrumah’s Challenge of The Congo is its inclusion of diplomatic records, such as correspondences and documents illustrating the circumstances that led up to Lumumba’s assassination and the usurping of the will of the African masses in Congo. This book is a must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in deconstructing and understanding the current state of the DRC.

Since video documentaries have become a more popular and compelling way of revealing such truths, I also recommend seeing Apocalypse Africa: Made in America by journalist Del Walters. Apocalypse Africa uses once classified footage and secret documents from the archives of the United States government to tell the story of how the actions of the U.S. ultimately brought about the collapse of Africa and her just quest for independence.

Given the state of Congo today, it is all too fitting a question to ask why is there a Save Darfur Campaign, but no Save Congo Campaign? The amount of noise that one will hear about Zimbabwe, and no noise about the Congo must surely raise questions. There is the good work of organizations like Friends of the Congo and Congo Global Action. One would think such organizations could enjoy the same level of funding and support as does the Save Dafur Movement. However, this is obscenely far from the case – although easily understood when informed by insights like those of Nkrumah and with an intimate understanding of the nature, interests and methods of capitalism.


Netfa Freeman is a longtime activist in the Pan-African and international human rights movements and a co-producer/co-host for Voices With Vision, WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington DC. He can be reached at [email protected]