Civil War in The Congo: Template for Neo-Colonialism
On November 20th Goma, the Congolese city of a million people in Kivu Province, was taken over by M-23 ‘rebel’ forces and cut off from any assistance. The UN mission, MONUSCO with 17000 troops in country and an undisclosed number in the area, stood by and watched. On Nov. 22nd, the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the takeover. ‘Rebel’ forces were ordered to leave. With the power to come and go M-23 officially withdrew. Rapes and killings by a rebel group are reported at a nearby refugee camp of thirty thousand. The Congolese Army may enter the city instead.
The takeover of Goma by M-23 brings to public awareness Rwanda’s control of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kivu Province. Despite Rwanda President Kagame’s firm denials, the evidence of M-23 control by Rwanda is strong enough for the U.K., the U.S., Netherlands among others, to publicly suspend overt military aid. The exposure may implicate military suppliers in Rwanda’s retaliatory genocide against 200,000 Hutu within the resource rich area in 1996-7, and subsequent war crimes against civilians. The current takeover repeats Rwanda and Uganda’s takeover of Goma, November 2008, by ‘rebel’ forces then called National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), led by Laurent Nkunda, a former Congolese general, Rwandan Patriotic Front (Kagame’s RPF ) army officer, who is currently “imprisoned” without charges in a Rwanda villa.
M-23 forces are identified as an amalgamation of previous rebel groups consisting of Tutsis and defectors from the Congolese army. The force was reportedly formed from a mutiny last March of several hundred Congolese troops, dissatisfied with pay and their integration into the Congolese Army as former CNDP rebels. Corporate media initially refused to confirm Rwandan involvement in the ‘rebel’ force action, while UN reports have traced control of M-23 to the Rwandan military (Rwanda’s Minister of Defence, James Kabarebe) as well as to Uganda. By December first, control of M-23 by Rwanda was still found tentative by the New York Times, while the BBC reported M-23 forces intermingled with Rwandan troops and paymasters.
M-23′s leader, previously chief of staff for the CNDP rebels, Bosco Ntaganda, born in Rwanda, also a veteran of Kagame’s RPF, is under International Criminal Court indictment for war crimes during two previous rebel commands. Mr. Ntaganda’s nickname is “The Terminator.” Current M-23’s military commander is Sultani Makenga, and its political leader, Jean-Marie Runiga. M-23 is estimated as a force of 1000 to 6000. Since its inception last March nearly half a million Congolese civilians fled their homes and their survival rates aren’t available. The Congolese Army stands at 150,000 and is underpaid. It’s Air Force is non-functional. A rival ‘rebel’ force of Hutu, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is currently small and occasionally noted for atrocities. A military force the media avoids mentioning is Uganda’s to the north. Uganda’s Air Force has an estimated 20 combat-capable aircraft. Uganda has received 500 million dollars of U.S. military aid since 2008.
Uganda was the base for Kagame’s invasion of Rwanda, and the closest land base to John Garang’s independence movement in Sudan. Roger Winter of the NGO, U.S. Committee for Refugees, a U.S. government asset, worked Sudan and the Great Lakes region starting in the 1980′s. He was an ally to the rebel movement leaders, John Garang in Sudan, and Kagame, as the lives of millions in Sudan and Rwanda were lost, casualties of war, displacement, general starvation, and genocide. Garang’s Sudanese southern independence movement trained Darfur militia, followed by the loss of another two million civilians. Susan Rice of the U.S. State Department’s Africa desk, was an official U.S. liaison, faithful to both Kagame and Garang, and there are questions of involvement in covert funding based on mineral extraction from the Eastern Congo. As millions of Africans died, North Americans were reluctant to connect the phenomenon to the interests of Western corporate expansion and military controls. Ms. Rice is currently U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and occasionally considered a replacement for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In the Congo, the war crimes against civilians who are through helplessness neutral whatever their histories, are particularly criminal and without obvious tactical purpose. The raping, killing, starving, displacement, of a civilian population is so shameful it may be an effort to exterminate the entire group; as in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as in southern Sudan and “Darfur,” as in the Sri Lanka’s massacres of Tamil populations under the cover of war; as in the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya. The United Nations has turned its back on these war crimes.
The casualness of the powerful with regards to human life is often justified by a program of elitism or supremacy which places entire peoples, races, religions, etc. outside the realm of humanity. Genocides of WWII focus on the Holocaust of six million, as millions of others died in the Nazi’s effort to advance a ‘master race’. Disregard for human life of those outside the elite is a mindset adapted to military planning for nuclear wars. All permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council are nuclear powers, ie. relying on use or threat of nuclear weapons targeting entire cities or populations of civilians. Nuclear war inherently involves genocide.
Resource-rich areas may have innate protection from attacks with weapons that irreparably contaminate the resources. In Kivu Province there’s a parallel to the indiscriminate effects of nuclear war, through what has happened to the human beings while the resources remain available. The scale of the damage to people is overwhelming. Conversely, when there are mass slaughters and mass displacements of civilians, when the news is suppressed, when areas attacked have rich resources that continue to be extracted during warfare, one might look for the military planners at the level of nuclear powers rather than in the more modest uses of war by governments of neighbouring African countries.
Two motives for indiscriminate mass death are: 1. Population removal / murder as a corollary of corporate resource-extraction development. 2. Population removal / murder in an elite’s agenda to kill everyone it considers expendable and any witnesses. The abuse of human beings in the Eastern Congo suggests a non-African military agenda that places no value on human life.
Criminal resource-extraction efforts have robbed African countries for several centuries, with and without overt slaughter. Currently Western corporations pay national leaders to present favourable contracts. This pattern of neo-colonial controls creates a class of the very rich and leaves the people impoverished, susceptible to disease, starvation, and conflicts. True leaders of the people such as Patrice Lumumba are murdered, and peacemakers such as Dag Hammarskjold are murdered, both with provable implication of U.S. and British intelligence networks. The practice of sacrificing the people for profit is familiar. In the Congo the brutality plays out in real time what happens more subtly in all countries serving corporate rule, as if the Congolese are all of us in a dream we can’t quite remember.
But nothing rational explains the scale in the loss of human life during Rwanda‘s genocide, nor the uncountable ongoing losses of humanity in the DRC. The International Rescue Committee estimates the unnecessary deaths between 1998 and 2003 in Kivu Province at five million people. In 1905 Mark Twain protested (King Leopold’s Soliloquy) the 10 million Congolese murdered in the Congo Free State under Belgium’s King Leopold. The mortality statistics from intentional programs then, suggests the victims weren’t regarded as human beings. In 2012 similar statistics suggest either supremacist social engineering and controls, or a hatred of life.
Conventionally, motivation for the slaughters is to obtain a region’s wealth. Civilians are murdered or displaced so they can make no claim to payment for the resources extracted from their lands. Since the people of Eastern Congo are owed for the extraction of resources from their lands, since they require safety, security, services, education, opportunity, or simply to be left alone, government leaders and resource extraction corporations have in common the bond of betraying the people who’s resources are being taken. This mechanism is the template for neo-colonialism. In the Eastern Congo the huge influx of non-native refugees, may present the problem of who has indigenous rights to the resources, but from the people’s perspective, A. the borders were imposed by European colonialism, and B. the rights belong to Africans.
As millions on millions of Africans die in the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya a pattern emerges from the tragedies. AIDS, societal disruption, destabilization, starvation, military actions, bombings, press campaigns vilifying one African leader after another (Mugabe, al-Bashir, Gbagbo, Gaddafi), and the gulf between Africa’s richness of resources and the opportunities of its people, are abnormal and increase each country’s reliance on foreign powers. Standard colonial attempts to keep Africa divided and conquered have exceeded themselves. Collectively, these become a covert criminal policy. What is its real purpose ? Its effect is to enforce the impoverishment and suffering of Africa‘s people. As in the U.S. / NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, the West’s strategists exclude victim populations from all their human rights. The denial of human rights is an assertion of superiority. The West’s guiding policy in Africa is supremacist.
Why was the Hutu defence of their Rwanda homeland turned to a program of genocide? Beyond the wars of the Talmud, Bible and Koran, genocide is a particularly European industrial concept. Entirely criminal, against social behaviour which sustains life, as a tactic of either revolution or defence, the slaughter in Rwanda couldn’t proceed if there were a substantial United Nations response, or a serious intervention by a major power complying with its signing the Convention on Genocide. The United Nations’ desertion of General Dallaire’s forces confronting the unacceptable, permitted the massive civilian slaughters to proceed.
As economic polarization increases, as lack of concern for the victim peoples increases, the victims are continually those sacrificed by the powerful elites who know the people’s final defence against them is the people acting together. So the people are decimated. The more unjust the new world order is, the more it will insist on death, if only to reduce the number of innocent people trying to live their lives because that’s what people do.