Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Worst Thing in the World

     I guess my perspective can be summed up as "Body Count."  I'd rather hear about 100 dead people in Rawalpindi than 99 dead people in Iowa, although I certainly make an exception if it might actually impact my life (very local events).

     By this measure neither Iraq nor Sudan were the great crises occurring during the infamous reign of George Walker.  By far, far, far the biggest meat grinder has been the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This is especially sad since the DRC was also the worst ruled of all African colonies.  It was the setting for Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" which formed the framework of Stanley Kubrick Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocolypse Now."

     The Mobutu regime had lasted for 32 years, with support from the United States.  His country had been staging grounds for attacks by rebels in Uganda and Angola.  Combined with the secondary impacts of the Rwandan genocide, Angola, Uganda, Burundi and Rwandan Tutsis, rebels marched on Kinshasa and replaced Mobutu with Laurent Kabila (the First Congo War, 1996-97).  Kabila ended up surrounding himself with Rwandans, which didn't endear him to the locals, and he didn't put a stop to Rwandan rebels in DRC attacking Rwanda.  It wasn't long before Uganda and Rwanda (mostly) started up the war again, this time against Kabila (the Second Congo War, 1998-2003) whom they had helped put in power.

     It is estimated that about 3,900,000 people died.  That's 100 times as many as Saddam Hussein was accused of killing, it happened five times as fast, and it all happened in the last decade.  I seem to recall one week in the last 7+ years when the topic came up in the national political debate (during the 2004 Olympics, after the conflict was officially over). 

     This is one of the more confusing wars.  The anti-Kabila forces of the Second Congo War were not united, and formed three separate rebel groups in different parts of the giant country.  Many of them had been his allies in the previous decade.  Did I mention it was a giant country?  Look how big. 

     Why did I bring this up?  Fighting is starting again.

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