Nicholas Kristof has an article in today's New York Times called, "The Grotesque Vocabulary in Congo." The title refers to two terms used to describe things that happen in the seemingly endless war.
“autocannibalism,” ... describes what happens when a militia here in eastern Congo’s endless war cuts flesh from living victims and forces them to eat it. ... Another is “re-rape.” The need for that term arose because doctors were seeing women and girls raped, re-raped and re-raped again, here in the world capital of murder, rape, mutilation.This is what real war crimes look like, as opposed to ridiculous charges over whether the treatment of some terrorist constituted torture. Kristof thinks the U.S. needs to do something about the Congo War -- as if it is somehow a U.S. problem.
isn’t it time for the U.S. to lead a major, global diplomatic push for peace?No, it most definitely isn't. One, because it isn't in the U.S. interest. Two, because we are not currently in a good position to do anything about it. And three, because a "push for peace" in Congo would be useless. Let's consider Kirstof's four point plan:
1. Pressure on Rwanda to stop funding its pet Tutsi militia in Congo. Good luck with that. Even if successful, that wouldn't stop the conflict.
2. An international regime to monitor mineral exports from Congo so that warlords do not monetize their militias by exporting minerals through Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Oh please. Anything with the word "international" in it is not going to work effectively. Corruption in Africa is endemic. There have already been similar attempts to restrict imports and exports.
3. A major push to demobilize Rwandan Hutu fighters and return as many as possible to civilian life in Rwanda or settlements in Congo or Burundi. That should be coupled with a crackdown on leaders in Congo and those who direct action from Europe and the United States. Would that help if it were possible to accomplish? Maybe a little. But the conflict in Congo would continue.
4. A drive to professionalize the Congolese Army and end the impunity for murder, torture and rape, starting with the arrest of Jean Bosco Ntaganda on his warrant for war crimes. Completely unrealistic. "Professionalizing" the Congolese Army is far easier said than done -- ask the people training the Afghan army -- and aid directed to that purpose is almost certain to be misused. And arresting an individual for war crimes is pointless and nothing more than a drop in the bucket.
Rather than a "push for peace,"a more likely solution for stabilizing the Congo involves far greater violence and mass killing, where groups like the Lords Resistance Army are destroyed, their leaders killed, their followers slaughtered in great numbers, and the remainder terrorized into submission. As long as there are multiple factions, strong enough to fight and kill their enemies, but too weak to effectively control the country, the war is probably going to continue. Getting the U.S. more involved in the Congo is a terrible idea. In Afghanistan we already face a similar situation on a somewhat smaller scale. And there is no end in sight to that conflict. The last thing we need is a massive nation building project in Africa -- because that's what it would take, another war directed by the U.S., involving more and more U.S. troops, and an incalculable amount of money and other aid.