Clinton’s Congo Collapses

Clinton’s Congo Collapses

2004 Painting by Cheri Samba
The UN’s actions in eastern Congo to stop the escalating war might work for the moment, but they are useless down the line without an American pivot in Rwanda.

America was drawn into this mess because of the political weakness and inept statesmanship of Bill Clinton.

As time accelerates off those years Clinton comes into sharp focus as a politician par excellance but a pragmatic leader without vision. He road a wave of latent 1960s American aspirations that he was unable to fulfill domestically.

So when Blackhawk Down undid his lofty rhetoric about the global arena, he cowered like a dog who had wandered unintentionally into a mad neighbor’s yard. And he failed to recover quickly enough to stop the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

Instead, a year later he and other equally timid western leaders began an extraordinarily expensive cleanup, which like BP in The Gulf was cleverly crafted as a great humanitarian accomplishment.

The big then hidden problem was that cleanup included the enthroning of Paul Kagame, the single greatest cause of the Congo flareup, today.

And because the American economy was growing gangbusters, technology was exploding with one grand surprise after another, and America was wallowing in the presumed glory of having won the Cold War, Clinton was capable of assuming greatness just for being around at the right time.

It was inevitable that his terrible neglect – specifically of Kagame’s own obvious vision for Tutsi domination of the region — would one day return to haunt us all … and that day is today in The Congo.

A significant UN Peacekeeping force has been successfully challenged by M23, a powerful warlord army, in Kivu Province in the eastern Congo, and today the local population is being displaced as if Katrina had descended onto middle earth.

The tinderbox will explode at any minute. The only half-rational functioning society in Kivu, the main town of Goma, is due to either fall or be wiped out and the UN sent running.

Yesterday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called the leaders of The Congo and Rwanda, the two greatest arch adversaries on earth, to beg for peace. They won’t give it to him.

I’m not sure how to undo a generation of politics predicated on Clinton’s cowardice, but one thing is certain. The U.S. and Europe must stop the unchecked and often unaccounted for support of Rwanda’s merciless dictator, Paul Kagame.

Kagame is front and center in the conflict, a likely billionaire as a result of it, and a fanatic who believes that ethnic conflicts are irresolvable. He has jailed his opponents, likely assassinated them abroad, and struck terror through his population.

And he is funding the war in The Congo, with U.S. and European aid money.

But the U.S. and Europe are stuck trying to justify the past and simply can’t pivot out of their culpability. The U.S. and Europe promote policies of ethnic reconciliation that cost millions but go nowhere, and support Kagame for lack of any alternative because they were the ones that put him in power.

You know, it’s time to own up to our mistakes. We’ve got to step out of a history of governance entrenched in the notion that the past was always right.

America’s vision — Clinton’s plan — for reconstructed Rwanda isn’t working. It’s like culling deer. You might save the roses where you cull, but the problem only then gets worse on the periphery where culling didn’t occur.

The periphery of Kagame’s power is Kivu, the sore that festers and will soon burst. Kagame’s American vaccinations give him immunity so he can wade into the puss and extend his power westwards.

The conflict in the eastern Congo is so complex and daunting that a blogpost seems useless without deep background. Much of what I believe rests on personal experience and a formidable body of often conflicting intelligence and analysis. In fact, probably the only evident truth about The Congo is that its complexity is its undoing.

Study Jason Stearns: His book, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, was published last year, and I have used above the Samba painting that tops his invaluable blog, Congo Siasa.

Recalibrate your support for Kagame, America. Clinton’s shame is old news.