Thursday, November 20, 2008

Africa, the Forgotten Continent, and Congo, its Most Tormented Nation

The Republic of the Congo has been in a state of almost constant war since 1996. Its natural beauty and abundance of natural resources would logically be a blessing. Instead, warring militias enslave the population in mines that provide income for their predatory wars against each other and the population.

Approximately three million people occupy this country that is half the size of Texas. Its resources have been taxed and its tranquility shattered by refugees from Rwanda who have complicated the existing intertribal conflicts raging in the country.

Even a cursory examination of almanac type statistics deepens my puzzlement in looking at this tormented country. Its population is three million, yet deaths in war are estimated to have been almost six million since 1996. The only explanation I can come up with is that many have fled and thereby diminished the population and that conflicts spilling over the border from neighbouring countries have swelled the death toll.

The warring militias have made daily life a living hell for the population. Enslavement, murder and rape are the norm. The justice system is nonexistent in a country where the central government is almost nonexistent. Refugee camps are set up in the country. They are run by the United Nations, whose soldiers and workers often add to the stream of abuse endured by civilians.

There are some conflicts that are so awful that harsh dictatorship is a welcome respite. Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was such a place. Between 1975 and 1979 it lost about a third of its population under the infamous Khmer Rouge genocide. Although Vietnam is historically a hated adversary, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia was the beginning of healing in that tormented country. Predictably, the invasion was condemned by the international community, which did nothing to alleviate the suffering of the Cambodian people. The United Nations was predictably useless in the resolution of the conflict.

There seems to be no neighbour strong enough and ruthless enough to invade and tame the Congo. Although the Belgians and perhaps the French would be a logical choice to head a humanitarian invasion, the official “truth” that colonialism is bad and independence is good stands in the way of a practical solution. Where in America and Europe political correctness is an annoyance, in the Congo it exacts a dizzying toll in human suffering.

The abundance of natural resources, from petroleum to tin ore to copper, uranium and agricultural products would logically make the Congo a focus of economic interest. The world was indifferent to the genocide of one million in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994. I am capable of the intellectual contortions that would enable me to dismiss racism as a reason for the world’s indifference to the suffering in Rwanda.

Europe created a European Union that has not yet dissolved into chaos. The need to redraw borders within Africa seems almost painfully obvious. When the colonial powers divided Africa, they created countries and borders that had little to do with previously existing tribal and national divisions. Tribalism has led in many places to the imposition of one party rule. The commonest excuse is that only a single party can avert the danger of countries fracturing on tribal lines.

The United Nations is visible and vocal in the Middle East. The body count in that region is a tiny fraction of that in the various nations in sub Saharan Africa.

Click here to read my complete article in The American Sentinel

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