Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:15 AM
Enrique (26,857 posts)
Ben Affleck: Congo urgently needs U.S. help
By Ben Affleck, Published: November 29
Ben Affleck is an actor, writer, director and the founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, a U.S.-based advocacy organization.
Last week, a heavily armed rebel militia, M23, took control of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the economic center and capital of the country’s North Kivu province. Unfortunately, to those of us who work in eastern Congo, the only surprise in this turn of events was how little attention it received.
Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote in The Post about the bloodiest war since World War II and its continued toll on the Congolese people. From 1998 to 2003, eight African nations fought on Congolese soil, killing millions, forcing tens of thousands of children to become soldiers and, in some areas of Congo, subjecting as many as two of every three women to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Violence continued long after combatants agreed on a cease-fire. With regional war looming once again, it is time for the United States to act.
President Obama is well acquainted with this crisis. During his career in the Senate, he authored the Democratic Republic of Congo Relief, Security and Democracy Promotion Act. The president should appoint a temporary envoy to signal clearly that finding a lasting solution is a priority for his administration. Past models for this approach — sending Sen. John Kerry to Sudan, veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke to the Balkans or Gen. Colin Powell to Haiti — demonstrate that high-level diplomatic intervention at the right moment can cut through deadly impasse and open the path toward lasting stability.
As a major humanitarian and foreign assistance partner in central and east Africa, the United States has significant diplomatic influence with the key players in this conflict. The Obama administration should leverage this influence first and foremost on behalf of an immediate cease-fire.
7 replies, 1329 views
Ben Affleck: Congo urgently needs U.S. help (Original post)
|Rosa Luxemburg||Dec 2012||#1|
Response to Enrique (Original post)
Sat Dec 1, 2012, 10:10 AM
frazzled (13,238 posts)
2. An interesting op-ed on it in the NYT today, plus
Perhaps this might be a good reason to be supporting Susan Rice for SoS, since African issues are her specialty, and it always seems like nobody really cares about that part of the world much. Congo has been a wreck for so long. At any rate, this was an interesting take on Goma and Congo and M23 today:
THE Democratic Republic of Congo, which erupted in violence again earlier this month, ought to be one of the richest countries in the world. Its immense mineral reserves are currently valued by some estimates at more than $24 trillion and include 30 percent of the world’s diamond reserves; vast amounts of cobalt, copper and gold; and 70 percent of the world’s coltan, which is used in electronic devices. Yet the most recent edition of the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index ranked Congo last among the 187 countries and territories included in the survey.
The international community has repeatedly dodged this reality by opting for so-called peace deals with shelf lives barely longer than the news cycle. Rather than nation-building, what is needed to end Congo’s violence is the opposite: breaking up a chronically failed state into smaller organic units whose members share broad agreement or at least have common interests in personal and community security.
In recent weeks, a rebel group calling itself the March 23 Movement, or M23, has stormed through eastern Congo, scattering poorly trained units loyal to the government and reducing a huge United Nations peacekeeping force to a helpless bystander as M23 seized control of Goma, the capital of the resource-rich North Kivu province. The rebel advance rekindled fears of a renewal of the bloody 1998-2003 Second Congo War, which drew the armies of a host of African countries as well as countless local militias into what was aptly dubbed “Africa’s world war.”
The M23 rebels appear indistinguishable from the several dozen other armed groups lurking in or around Congo, but in many respects they are quite different. Many M23 members are veterans of an earlier insurgent group, the National Congress for the Defense of the People, known by the French acronym C.N.D.P., which consisted largely of ethnic Tutsi Congolese who had banded together to fight the former Hutu génocidaires who fled to Congo following the end of their killing spree in Rwanda in 1994.
If Congo were permitted to break up into smaller entities, the international community could devote its increasingly scarce resources to humanitarian relief and development, rather than trying, as the United Nations Security Council has pledged, to preserve the “sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity” of a fictional state that is of value only to the political elites who have clawed their way to the top in order to plunder Congo’s resources and fund the patronage networks that ensure that they will remain in power.
Response to frazzled (Reply #2)
Mon Dec 3, 2012, 02:50 PM
Supersedeas (20,630 posts)
5. Susan Rice was the lead diplomat on African Affaires during the Clinton Administration
Her tenure then did not bode well for the people of Rwanda.
Response to ananda (Reply #3)
Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:59 PM
mojowork_n (2,332 posts)
4. What is The Eagle?
Two more links I just read, that brought me to this thread. Not much interest on D.U. for events in Africa: