No Jews, no news from the heart of darkness 9

We seldom quote the leftist anti-Semitic Guardian/Observer, but today we make an exception for extracts from a horrifying account, by Ian Birrell, of the little-reported savage war in the Congo. His completely irrelevant opening sentences tell you (or at any rate tell us) it is by a lefty anti-Semite – his bitter implication being “no Jews, no news” (but whose fault is that if not the likes of him?), but read on:

Once again, the apparently insoluble struggle between Israel and Palestine has flared up before flickering into uneasy standoff. As usual, world leaders issued fierce warnings, diplomats flew in and the media flooded the region to cover the mayhem as both sides spewed out the empty cliches of conflict. After eight days of fighting, nearly 160 people lay dead.

Meanwhile, 2,300 miles further south, events took a sharp turn for the worse in another interminable regional war. This one also involves survivors of genocide ruthlessly focused on securing their future at any cost. But the resulting conflict is far bloodier, far more brutal, far more devastating, far more destructive – yet it gains scarcely a glance from the rest of the world.

[It is taking place in] the Democratic Republic of the Congo – scene of massacres, of mass rape, of children forced to fight, of families fleeing in fear again and again, so many sordid events that rarely make the headlines. …

A rebel army of 1,500 men waltzed into Goma, a city of one million people, on Tuesday. In doing so, they humiliated not just the useless Congolese government but also the hapless blue helmets of the biggest United Nations peacekeeping mission, costing nearly £1bn a year.

Where on earth have UN peacekeeping forces been effective? Notoriously they themselves raped and murdered civilians in the Congo, as the Guardian itself reported in 2010.

There are so many peacekeepers and development agencies in Goma it has become a boom town, home to some of the most expensive housing in Africa. Yet again, all these people proved impotent. 

The leaders of this insurgent force, the M23, have declared their aim to march across this vast country to capture the capital, Kinshasa. Since it is backed by Rwanda and Uganda, which used proxy armies to do this once before in 1997, such threats cannot be dismissed. Joseph Kabila, the Congolese president, who, through fear of a coup, corruption and incompetence, castrated his own military, is reported to have responded by asking Angola to send troops to save him.

It is all a dismal echo of  the Great African War, which officially ended in 2003 but dribbled on for another five years. This began when Rwanda and Uganda invaded in 1998, saw 11 countries from Angola to Zimbabwe involved and left more than five million dead and millions more displaced. There were war crimes on all sides as armies brutalised those unfortunate people living above the fabulous seams of minerals that fuelled the fighting.

It is hard to fathom the real aims of M23, formed earlier this year by mutinous Congolese Tutsi army officers. It could be they hope the Kabila government will implode or it may be they wish to create an independent state in the east of the country. One thing is clear: the international community needs to take tough and urgent action to stop a festering sore from poisoning a huge chunk of Africa once again.

Ah yes. The West – read “chiefly the US”  - which Guardian journalists despise on principle, must intervene to stop Third World savages (whose culture, don’t forget, is quite as good as ours, if not better) are doing what they habitually do.

The west bears some responsibility for the latest act in the Congolese tragedy. Not just because the ethnic divisions that cause such fear were inflamed during dark years of Belgian misrule.

Albeit the Belgians – who did indeed govern their colonies cruelly – left the Congo more than fifty years ago, two generations back.

Nor simply because we gobble up those minerals that fund the warlords.

See how wicked we Westerners are? We buy their minerals, which lay unprofitably in their soil for millennia before any Belgian ventured into the heart  of their darkness.

But because at the heart of the horror in a country the size of western Europe is the tiny nation of Rwanda, darling of western donors seeking to assuage their guilt over inaction during its own genocide.

And we’re wrong, wrong, wrong, if we feel guilt for not intervening in the Rwanda massacre in 1994? Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Britain and America in particular have lionised a regime guilty of ghastly internal repression and gruesome foreign adventurism, with catastrophic consequences for millions of Congolese. Admirers of Paul Kagame, the despotic Rwandan president, praise his country’s economic development, ignoring that it is part-financed by trade in minerals plundered and pillaged from a ravaged neighbour. As far back as 2001, a Congolese rebel leader admitted such theft was Rwandan state policy.

Meanwhile, the west ignored repeated war crimes committed by this regime. The first invasion, originally to drive out Hutu genocidaires who fled over the Congo border and were allowed to regroup by aid organisations, led to an estimated 300,000 deaths of innocent refugees. One expert called this a genocide of attrition. The second invasion sparked even worse carnage. … Rwandan troops and their allies slaughtered children, women and elderly people, often with the crudest weapons such as knives, ropes and stones.

Yet western leaders hailed Kagame as the modern face of Africa and pumped vast aid into his arms.

Here’s a particular on which we at TAC agree with the writer. (We agree with him in general of course that what is happening in the Congo is pitiful and atrocious.) We are against all foreign aid (but we bet he isn’t!).

Britain is the biggest bilateral donor; we directly funded agencies of repression, then led moves for Rwanda to join the Commonwealth. The links between our two countries are alarmingly close … Tony Blair advises Kagame on “governance”, even while swanning around seeking peace in the Middle East. …

“Swanning around”? Implication of contempt. So again we can agree. Tony Blair and his mission are both superfluous to any requirement.

After weeks of prevarication, Britain has finally admitted evidence of Rwandan support for M23 was “credible”. Now we must make up for supporting this monstrous regime by cutting all aid, imposing tough sanctions and seeking war crimes proceedings against Kagame and his senior officials. The UN needs to review its peacekeeping mandate in Congo. Rwanda is set to join the UN Security Council in January, even as fears grow it may end up with a pliable client state carved out in eastern Congo.

Rwanda carving out a client state? How the world turns!

Rwanda is far from the only villain in this drama. Uganda, another western ally, is also linked again to the latest unrest, the president’s own brother accused of backing the M23. But Rwanda is the cause of much of the trouble. The truth is that six times as many people have died already in the Congolese wars as died in the Rwandan genocide. Time to say never again – or does the blood of Congo not count?

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  • Kerry

    Interesting post. I lived in DRC for more than 3 years. I am acquainted with the political leadership there as well. I would only add that the situation in Goma will not be solved easily because there is a great deal of smuggling going on…cassiterite and coltan. The profits go into the pockets of those that could halt the conflict but are under no pressure to do so.

    In addition, I am ashamed to say that the US is in part responsible for the horrendous 30 years inflicted upon the people by Mobutu Sese Seko. There was such paranoia about the USSR that America enabled and turned a blind eye to the atrocities by their puppet President. It is amazing to consider that in 1970, DRC had a GNP equivalent to South Korea!

    There are many people in Congo, educated in the West, that have gone home to build a better society. They have all the raw materials but it takes a strong leader willing to stand against corruption. The Chinese have filled the void left by American disinterest, and that remains to be seen if that is a good long term fit, or just the swapping of one task master for another.

    • Jillian Becker

      And a highly interesting comment.

      Comment from someone who has personal knowledge of the subject under discussion is always extra valuable. Information is treasure.

      Thank you, Kerry! We are very lucky to have you as a reader and commenter.

      You have obviously lived an unusual life, rich in experience. We hope you will tell us more about it.

      • Kerry

        It will be my distinct honor to share as we go along. I have lived more years out of America then inside the 48…ok 50. I have just done a bit of research on your background as well. Most interesting if I may say so. I will particularly enjoy your work on Hitler which I will download tonight on NOOK. In my sparse library in the States, I have the largest collection on Lincoln with Hitler running a close second. I was always intrigued how a nation could blindly follow and perpetuate such atrocities….well I only had to look in the mirror. My Christian God at that time also demanded blind obedience and instructed his people to preform terrible deeds.

        This will be fun I think. I am glad I found you.

        • Jillian Becker

          My book “Hitler’s Children” is not about Hitler but about the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang. It is not yet an ebook but will be soon – before the end of the year I hope.

          • Kerry

            Yes I understand, but they, the Baader-Meinhof gang was an outgrowth of student unrest in West Germany during the war culminating in a rather prominent militant group around the ’70′s. No Hitler, no B-M Group. I am not very well versed on it so it will be an educational experience. And if I am not mistaken, they were also influenced by the writings of Mao.

            Ah, I do not think any bookstore in Taiwan will carry the book so let me know when it is on ebook.

      • Kerry

        Just thought you would like to know that I will be in DRC next week for some time. I will see if there is any new information about the current situation. I have learned that often, the reporting done from these remote corners of the world is not as accurate as it might be. One reason is that most people in the world cannot point out DRC on a map, and since nothing that “happens” in Congo affects the lives of the vast populations of people in other countries, it is not surprising that only cursory reporting is done without any in-depth analysis.

        I will be having meetings with those who WILL KNOW the current status of and perhaps a few interesting factoids about all things DRC. I will let you know what I find.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.m.cardon Steve M Cardon

    It’s would be laughable were it not tragic. I am guessing left leaning MSM are free to put whatever conflicts they want on their respective front pages.

    Also laughable that if Rwandans, Congolese, what have you… were to unite they could easilyt drive out the evil white men who are “exploiting” their natural resources. The fact is they themselves are at least as greedy and brutal as western white men upon whom they blame everything only to be echoed by misguided white liberals. They were subjugating and exploiting each other long before white men showed up, and resumed doing so after they left (for the most part) Zimbabwe is still a horror, and of course the Congo and many other places in africa.

    The continuing situation in the Congo is horrible, but in the end locals must learn to police themselves… unless they want more colonialism. Again Liberals encouraging people not to take personal responsibility for their lots in life. They say its terrible that we let it continue, but to prevent whatever trade they are blaming and step between warring factions would require a large military presence. By the time you start defending everyone (which we obviously don’t have the resources to do), you get accused of doing so for nefarious reasons by the left. You can’t win with those guys.

    …and sorry, if it must be Israel or Islam, I choose the more advanced of the two. I choose the one who is not seeking to institute Sharia over the Constitution, who doesn’t abuse and repress women…. is that wrong?

    • liz

      I read an article on the Japanese, that they don’t allow Muslims to immigrate to Japan, and have alot of other restrictions on them there. I wish we could have that much common sense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/steve.m.cardon Steve M Cardon

        The Japanese have a lot of great social ideas, they are also generally disliked by other asian countries because the consider themselves superior… truth hurts I guess lol.

        ION: PAUSING TO RELOAD…

        ‘Satellites show Iran moving quickly to rearm Hamas’

        By JPOST.COM STAFF

        11/25/2012 09:54

        ‘Sunday Times’ cites Israeli official claiming Tehran shipping Fajr-5 rockets through Sudan to the Gaza Strip.Photo: IRNA / Reuters

        Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other material in Iran believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, the UK-based Sunday Times reported, citing Israeli officials.