As many as five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A quarter million or so have perished in Darfur, western Sudan. Both are abominations, genocides, crimes against humanity, but only Darfur rates coverage in the U.S. corporate media, action by the United States on the diplomatic and military front, or concerted interest by the Congressional Black Caucus. The Congolese genocide, triggered directly by the U.S. and its surrogates, is masked in silence. In Darfur, "Arabs" who are indistinguishable from their Black African Muslim neighbors are demonized as enemies in the "clash of civilizations."
A Tale of Two Genocides, Congo and Darfur: The Blatantly Inconsistent U.S. Position
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
"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.
"The eastern Congo was up for grabs, and everybody grabbed some."
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 process.
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.
"A quarter million people have died in Darfur, compared to five million in Congo."
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 Africa.
"The Black Caucus makes common cause with imperial ambitions in the Horn of Africa."
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 [email protected].