Ben Buchwalter


A Disturbing Truth
October 29, 2008, 4:57 pm
Filed under: 2008 Election, Foreign Affairs | Tags: , ,

You probably remember when Russia invaded Georgia only a few months ago. Seeming a threat to revive the Cold War, Russia’s invasion was all over the news. The United States quickly declared its support of Georgia and this became a pressing issue in the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Barack Obama. John McCain even sent his own delegation to Georgia to assess the situation. Joe Biden suggested that the United States pledge $1 Billion in aid, a suggestion that was eventually adopted. This week, a group of Western donors pledged more than $4.5 Billion in aid to the post-soviet country. 

It’s not that this funding was inappropriate. I think that the international community was right to help this democracy after it was attacked by the former superpower that controlled it.

But I cannot help but wonder why this attack became such an international issue while the crisis in the Congo has flown under the radar. Since August, the deteriorating situation between the Congolese government and a rebel army led by Laurent Nkunda, who calls himself the protector of the Tutsis, has displaced more than 250,000 people.

This war could have a much more drastic result than the Georgia invasion if it does not conclude quickly. Congo’s Second Civil War (1998-2003) is often referred to as Africa’s World War because so many neighboring governments were pulled into the fighting. The civil war and the crisis that followed it has resulted in nearly 5.5 Million murders. As of January, 45,000 civilians continued to die per month, the same rate as directly after the Civil War.

Most haunting, is how the rival factions largely mirrored the Hutu/Tutsi conflict that led to Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. Rwanda borders the DRC to the east and could be pulled into their struggle if it remains a battle based on decades of Hutu/Tutsi hatred. After nearly being wiped out by the genocide in 1994, Rwandan Tutsis have consolidated control of the country and many have claimed that they are unlawfully suppressing the country’s Hutu majority, a claim that existed before the Hutus rose up to exterminate Tutsis in the 1990s. The fighting in the Congo could spill over to incite that hatred once again.

The New York Times has published a few articles about the crisis in the Congo, but the issue remains largely hushed within American politics. While we discuss Barack Obama’s character and John McCain’s age, people continue to be killed and displaced in central Africa because of their ethnic origin or ideological beliefs.

Are we still too afraid of the Dark Continent to protect it as we would countries with white majorities?

UPDATE: New NYT article. This situation could get a lot worse. Keep an eye out for it.

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