Tale Of Two Genocides,
Congo And Darfur
By Glen Ford
18 July, 2007
"A human death toll
that approaches the Nazi's annihilation of Jews in World War Two unfolds
without a whiff of complaint from the superpower."
Possibly a quarter million
people have lost their lives in Darfur, western Sudan, in ethnic conflict.
The U.S. government screams its head off in denunciation of genocide,
in this case. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as many as
five million have died since 1994 in overlapping convulsions of ethnic
and state-sponsored massacre. Not a word of reproach from Washington.
A human death toll that approaches the Nazi's annihilation of Jews in
World War Two - an ongoing holocaust - unfolds without a whiff of complaint
from the superpower.
Why is mass death the cause
of indignation and confrontation in Sudan, but exponentially more massive
carnage in Congo unworthy of mention? The answer is simple: in Sudan,
the U.S. has a geopolitical nemesis to confront: Arabs, and their Chinese
business partners. In the Congo, it is U.S allies and European and American
corporate interests that benefit from the slaughter. Therefore, despite
five million skeletons lying in the ground, there is no call to arms
from the American government. It is they who set the genocidal Congolese
machine in motion.
Active U.S. Passivity
In 1994, Rwanda was on the
brink. The Hutu majority, which had for a century been oppressed by
Tutsi surrogates for European colonialists, feared that another massacre
of their kin was imminent. There had been many massacres of Hutus, before,
in Rwanda and neighboring Burundi, also under minority Tutsi control.
Pent-up hysteria exploded in an orgy of violence that claimed the lives
of as many as 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus that did not support the genocide.
The U.S. did nothing to interfere,
because they had two actors in the game. Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni
was now the Americans' guy in central Africa. Tutsi Rwandan exiles,
headed by Paul Kagame, were an integral part of Museveni's army. As
the genocide began, Kagame's forces launched an offensive from Uganda
into Rwanda. It did not halt the massacre of Tutsis, but succeeded in
driving the disorganized Hutus into neighboring Congo. The Americans
now had another player in the African game: the new head of the Rwandan
Tutsi-dominated state, Paul Kagame. His forces then invaded eastern
Congo, chasing the fleeing Hutus.
All hell broke loose. President Mobutu Sese Seko, America's man in the
Congo, then called Zaire, was terminally ill. He fled and died in exile
in 1997. The eastern Congo was now up for grabs, and everybody grabbed
some. Eastern Congo is one of the most minerally rich places on Earth,
an extractors' paradise. According to the CIA's "Factbook,"
the DRC abounds with "cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum,
industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium,
coal, hydropower, timber." All of these resources are exploited
by European and American corporations that maintain their own mercenary
armies to guard the extraction fields. For generations they have run
their patches of Congolese land like governments, with the support of
France, Belgium, the United States and other powers. The so-called civil
war effectively gave them full autonomy in the wake of Mobutu's corrupt
demise, as the power of the central government in Kinshasa, crumbled.
Mass carnage raged around them, but did not interrupt the extraction
In the thirteen years since
Rwandan Tutsi Paul Kagame's forces - surrogates for the U.S. puppet
president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni - invaded the eastern Congo, possibly
five million people have died. President Bill Clinton, the man who stood
aside while the Rwandan genocide took place, then presided over a far
bigger mass murder in Congo. He has apologized for only one. In a visit
to Kigali, capital of Rwanda, Clinton said:
"We come here today
partly in recognition of the fact that we in the United States and the
world community did not do as much as we could have and should have
done to try to limit what occurred."
But what occurred is not
over. The bloodshed spread rapidly to eastern Congo, unleashed by U.S.
surrogate forces, and continues to this day. Paul Kagame, the Rwandan
president, has served U.S. imperial ambitions well. He supported the
U.S. invasion of Iraq, and continues to destabilize Congo with his forces
in the eastern region. Multinational corporations, of course, operate
their own airstrips and communications networks. Their patches of Congo
proceed like business as usual, while the death toll mounts by millions
among the people, who are overrun by militias of various ethnicities
and Kagame's Rwandan army.
The Congolese genocide is
not part of the American political discussion. When Africa is mentioned
at all, it is about Darfur. A quarter million people have died there,
compared to five million in Congo. Both holocausts are crimes against
humanity, but only the smaller one, Darfur, is a fit subject for inclusion
in the U.S. political debate. During the June 3 CNN Democratic debate,
moderator Wolf Blitzer demanded that the candidates "raise their
hands" if they supported the imposition of a no-fly zone in Darfur
- an act of war against the government in Khartoum according to international
law. Only Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel declined
to endorse the violation of Sudanese sovereignty. In the following Republican
debate, the consensus was almost unanimous, except for Rep. Ron Paul:
impose a no-fly regime over the western Sudan.
Imperial Chess Game
The Congressional Black Caucus
follows the same script as Wolf Blitzer. Members have lobbied and demonstrated
against the Sudanese regime, to the applause of the corporate press.
But they have never said a word, as a body, about the hellacious carnage
in Congo. It is a taboo subject, too close to "vital American interests."
But the Sudanese conflict is fair game, and so the Black Caucus joins
in the general mob attack. They make common cause with imperial ambitions
in the Horn of Africa, while ignoring the murder of millions in central
The preferred narrative of
Darfur fits nicely with that of the Israeli lobby in the United States.
Although all the antagonists are Black Africans and Muslims, the aggressors
are classified as "Arabs." A regional inter-African, inter-Muslim
conflict is made to appear as part of the "clash of civilizations"
- the new Cold War. The proof is that the Chinese are partners with
the Khartoum regime, having engaged in oil contracts. The evil Chinese
menace threatens American interests, and it follows that any country
that deals with the Chinese is involved in an anti-American conspiracy.
If they are Arabs (although black as my shoe), then the narrative is
complete. Arabs have collaborated with Chinese to kill Africans just
as black as themselves. Let's declare war on them, beginning with a
no-fly zone that violates their sovereignty.
The scenario is the same
as Iraq: take control of their skies and the land beneath it, and bomb
at will. Remove any semblance of government authority, under the guise
of ending genocide. Extend the reach of the U.S. military's paws in
the Sahel region. The African Union has tried mightily to put an effective
peace-keeping force on the ground in Darfur, but the United States and
the Europeans refused to supply the logistical forces that are necessary;
the C-130s to reinforce and supply the African troops. The Americans
and Europeans held out until the African contingent was at the breaking
point, and then forced through the UN Security Council a plan to place
26,000 U.S. and European-led soldiers on the ground. Another piece of
Africa will pass into foreign hands.
Darfur has been made into
a stage-set of anti-Arab conflict, which perfectly suits the pro-Israel
lobby in the U.S. Congo, where far more people have died, remains a
gargantuan killing field, uncovered by the corporate media and ignored
by the Congressional Black Caucus and the array of Democratic presidential
candidates. Genocide depends on who is doing the killing, apparently.
Glen Ford is executive editor
of Black Agenda Report. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis
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