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Obama’s Congo moment: Genocide, the U.N. report and Senate Bill 2125

October 1, 2010

by Ann Garrison

This cartoon, reflecting the high hopes in Africa for an Obama presidency, ran in the New York Times on Nov. 3, 2008, two days before the U.S. election.
The official Oct. 1 release of the U.N. Report on Human Rights Abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1993-2003, documenting the Rwandan and Ugandan armies’ massacres of Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, should be a defining moment for President Barack Obama. How will the USA’s first African American president respond to the detailed and widely publicized U.N. documentation of genocide in the heart of Africa, committed by the USA’s longstanding military proxies, the armies of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni?

Few Americans realize that the Rwandan and Ugandan armies are armed and trained by the U.S. or that the U.S. military uses both countries as staging grounds, but they may learn about it now.

Few realize either that the sole piece of legislation that President Obama shepherded into law on his own, as a Senator, was S.B. 2125, the Obama Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006, in which, in Section 101(3), he quoted USAID:

“Given its size, population, and resources, the Congo is an important player in Africa and of long-term interest to the United States.”

Indeed. In 1982, the Congressional Budget Office’s “Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral” noted that cobalt alloys are critical to the aerospace and weapons industries, that the U.S. has no cobalt worth mining, that 64 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves are in the Katanga Copper Belt running from southeastern Congo into northern Zambia and that control of the region is therefore critical to the U.S. ability to manufacture for war.

Foreign powers and corporations’ determination to control Congo’s cobalt and the rest of its dense mineral resources has made the Congo conflict the most lethal since World War II.

Section 101(5) and (6) of Obama’s 2006 Congo legislation reads:

“(5) The most recent war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which erupted in 1998, spawned some of the world’s worst human rights atrocities and drew in six neighboring countries.

“(6) Despite the conclusion of a peace agreement and subsequent withdrawal of foreign forces in 2003, both the real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi continue to serve as a major source of regional instability and an apparent pretext for continued interference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by its neighbors [Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi].”

A displaced Congolese man in Kibati camp in Goma listens to the radio announcing that Obama won the U.S. election. This photo ran in the Guardian of London on election day, Nov. 5, 2008. – Photo: Stephen Morrison, EPA
What Obama identified as the “real and perceived presence of armed groups hostile to the Governments of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi” was, most of all, the real and perceived presence of “Hutu militias.” They were indeed the “pretext” for the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Army’s massacres of Hutu civilians, Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, with the help of the Ugandan People’s Defence Force – massacres now documented in the U.N. report leaked to Le Monde on Aug. 26, then officially released Oct. 1.

Since Obama described the militias as “apparent pretext for continued interference” in 2006, we can assume that he understood them as such on his Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009, when Rwandan troops again moved into Congo. On that day, world headlines, alongside those he himself was making, included “Rwandan Troops enter D.R. Congo to hunt Hutu militias” (Telegraph), “Rwandan troops enter Congo to hunt Hutu rebels” (BBC) and “Rwandan troops enter Kivu to hunt Hutu rebels” (Radio France International).

On the same day, the Christian Science Monitor, in “Rwandan Troops enter Democratic Republic of the Congo,” reproduced the pretext that Obama had identified in S.B. 2125:

“Rwandan troops entered the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to tackle a Rwandan Hutu militia whose leaders are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide before fleeing to Congo.”

Since Obama understood the pretext in 2006, he no doubt understood it that day and no doubt understands it today, as Rwandan and Ugandan troops are rumored, once again, to be moving into Congo, despite international outcry about the U.N. report.

Hutu militias and other “rebel militias” in Congo can no longer serve as the devil, the eternal excuse or, as Obama said, the “apparent pretext for intervention in the Democratic Republic by Congo’s neighbors.” Most of all, they can no longer serve as the devil, the excuse and pretext for interventions by Paul Kagame, the general turned president and so long heroized as Rwanda’s savior, because Kagame’s own army’s massacres of Rwandan and Congolese Hutu civilians has now been documented in the U.N. report.

The leak and now the official release have finally magnified President, then-Senator, Obama’s obscure, still little known revision of the East-Central African story in his 2006 legislation, S.B. 2125, which then became Public Law 109-456.

Obama’s ‘Rwanda moment’?

John Prendergast and David Eggers, the ENOUGH Project’s tireless advocates for U.S. intervention in Sudan, suggested, in a New York Times op-ed that Obama’s “Rwanda moment,” like Bill Clinton’s in 1994, is now in Sudan, where, they say, Obama has a chance to do what Bill Clinton reputedly failed to do in Rwanda, intervene to stop genocide.

But Obama’s Rwanda, and Congo, moment is in Rwanda and Congo now, as the world reviews the U.N. report and Rwandan troops once again advance into Congo.

He doesn’t need to intervene but to stop intervening, by withdrawing the military support, weapons, training, logistics and intelligence for Kagame, support that has so long equaled intervention. If he did so, peace and human rights activists all over the world would stand behind him and the narrative revision that he quietly penned three years ago.

An Obama decision to stop supporting Kagame would go up against the last 30 years of Pentagon intervention in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, but the U.N. Report turns his 2006 narrative revision into an outright reversal – with the weight of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and growing international opinion behind it.

And Obama is the commander-in-chief, with absolute executive authority over the U.S. armed forces. Yes, he can, should he choose to.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Digital Journal, Examiner.com, OpEdNews, Global Research, Colored Opinions and her blog, Plutocracy Now. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com.

Shared Sacrifice Radio Oct. 1: Human Rights Abuses in DRC with guests Aimable Mugara, Eric Kamba and Ann Garrison

KPFA News Sept. 25: Protesters from three continents converge on New York City to protest Kagame at the U.N.

WBAI Radio Sept. 20: Global Movements/Urban Struggles with guests Peter Erlinder and Milton Allimadi after NYC protest and panel on ending impunity in Rwanda

In this video, posted to YouTube July 9, 2008, during the run-up to the U.S. presidential election, Congolese star Mbilia Bel dedicates her song, “Nakei Nairobi” (“Off to Nairobi”), to her hopes and the hopes of all Africa for Barack Obama, a true son of Africa, to win the most powerful position in the world. “Today, North America Congolese communities choose the famous song to show our support to the next president of United States of America, Senator Barack Obama, whose father, Obama Senior, was a big fan of Mbilia Bel,” writes “compukin,” who posted the video.

Here is the same song as it was recorded by Mbilia Bel in 1974. This video translates the lyrics into English. President Obama’s father was undoubtedly familiar with this song.

17 thoughts on “Obama’s Congo moment: Genocide, the U.N. report and Senate Bill 2125

  1. CONGOCOALITION

    Thank you Ann.
    YES WE CAN AND WILL. President must act soon because the world are watching. For him to successful, It will need a strong leadership from congo. With HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA a rwandan impostor in congo, kagame's agent in kinshasa(he was in FPR) nothing will be easy. We congoleses have a perfect intelligence for the President Obama to get this done.
    1. Change the leadership in kinshasa with someone who has people support.
    2. Reform the congolese army to protect people and land.(we have people with a strong will to serve)
    3. put pressure on kagame and museveni.
    If Obama can do just that, He will be a hero for africa and the all world.
    YES HE CAN

    Reply
    1. anita lokusa

      Of course he can, but those who are still hunting for congolese wealth will make the road slipery, very slipery…Human rights exist on paper or for others but not for congolese people, right? anyone? .. who cares? nobody is listening …

      Reply
  2. Nzeyimana

    Obama should be carefull for He has in his Cycle Bloodthirsty men who hate men of integrity like him and seek to kill the upright as they killed Habyarimana and others.How do we know them? by their falsehood and lies in all their speeches.The wrath of Jehovah is about to swallow them up.

    Reply
  3. Stephane

    Kagame's troops killed and massacred.Obama being a man of integrity promised to change the old politics of washington during the elections campaign.Let him prove to all of us that he is different from all those who supported Kagame in Washington.

    Reply
  4. Nzeyimana

    @ Mushikiwabicanyi
    Hutu have always taken a high road and open to anything that could give them peace to the extend of forcing themselves to forget what happened to them both in Rwanda and Congo.But Mr I don't care and dont' give a dumb went on selling his evil goods to the whole world till today when Kagame has dropped a 1/4 of his Ice cream cone.If I were you I ' d change my language and have atleast a little respect and show understandind while suckin the UN report up and swallowin it because this is the day the world was waiting for.

    Reply
  5. @Blessed_is_she

    Don't Believe Hype about Obama bringing change to the Congo any place else in Africa.

    Obama is not the enemy but he represent Washington/Coporate Amerikkka who wants to increase their stake in Africa's resource plan and simple by using a man of African descent to do it.

    I'm thoroughly knowledgable on the politics of Africa but I do know no one from the outside will be you peace especially someone who depends your resource to keep their so-called modern lifestyle.

    Reply
  6. Ann_Garrison

    What Obama or most any politicians do will always be a matter of political cost. Cutting ties to Kagame/Musveni/Nkrunziza and their military regimes would threaten the whole U.S. military project in Africa because the U.S. uses their armies as proxies all over the continent and their countries as staging grounds for their military operations. That's likely to generate a lotta push back if it's even possible.

    Could he handle it?

    If Obama actually wanted to cut these strongmen loose, he'd need huge political support.

    Consider, first off, how immediately he'd upset Reverend Rick Warren, an obviously significant part of his political base. If Rick Warren walks off with his voters, who's going to take their place?

    I don't mean to discourage; I just think it's important to consider what Obama's political base is, and whether Congo is on that base's radar. Who'll vote for Obama, who won't, in 2012, and will they care about Congo?

    If Obama were to stand with Congo, he would then, of course, be the Obama that so many people wanted him to be. .

    Reply
    1. congocoalition

      @ANN
      Why didn't you mention HYPPOLITE KANAMBA aka JOSEPH KABILA together with Kagame, Museveni and Nkrunziza? He(H. kanambe aka J.kabila) is the missing piece to solve this puzzle, for a strong leadership and a stable congo will provide soldiers and staging grounds for military operations for the US.
      Plus the US can change those people(Kagame,Museveni,Nkrunziza, and "Kabila") they are not popular in their countries. People and soldiers will follow the new leaders.
      Kagame ,"Kabila" and Museveni won't survive without the west.

      Reply
  7. Ann_Garrison

    @congocoalition:

    OK, also HYPPOLITE KANAMBA. I've been reporting that many of you, many Congolese, say that Uganda Rwanda are occupying Congo, with Kabila's collaboration,and that there is therefore no hope for his "transitional justice" proposal.

    Keep in mind, however, that I tried identifying HYPPOLITE KANAMBA aka JOSEPH KABILA in one of my two or three minute KPFA News reports and the news editor sent the script back with "is actually a Rwandan, HYPPOLITE KANAMBA" crossed off and he words "TOO COMPLICATED." (For radio news. Most Americans can't find Congo on a map.)

    I've been having a lot of thoughts and getting a lot of feedback about this piece on Obama's Congo moment. I think it may be one of my more cogent efforts; it's also been published on Global Research and Didas Gasana's paper EA Newsline,

    Reply
    1. congocoalition

      @ANN:
      The KPFA editor reaction does not surprised us Ann. That is how most people reacted when Yaa-lengi talked about genocide in congo in 2000(Genocide in congo,in name of bill clinton,…), 10 years later the UN agree.
      It is truth congo in occupied by rwanda and uganda, with HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA's collaboration.In fact Uganda just moved its border far inside congo two mouth now(source:Radio okapi). no reaction for H. KANAMBE aka J. KABILA. P.Kagame went to cnn with C. Amampour and ask this question: where is the congolese to protect their country. He knew that he has his men in control of congo. H. KANAMBE's reaction: silence, what president can accept that ANN?
      It is truth H. KANAMBE is a rwandan and work for his mentors P.KAGAME and his oncle J.KABAREBE.
      He is the center piece to solve congo problem. Obama should know that.

      Reply
  8. congocoalition

    ANN
    OBAMA can do just one thing that will make a huge difference in the entire region. Stabilize DRC. A politically (economy and security will follow)stable DRC will make Kagame and Museveni useless for the West, Because DRC has everything they need and want; big size, over 70 million people and a lot of resources. HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA is unpopular in congo. Last week his motorcade was stoned in kinshasa ( the brave man who did it was beaten to death by H. KANAMBE guards, his name is ARMANT TUNGULU) the same thing happened to HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA in Kivu deux weeks ago. Every body knows that he is a rwandan agent, a ex FPR. HYPPOLITE KANAMBE aka JOSEPH KABILA has been playing a central role very much important than KAGAME or Museveni.
    OBAMA need a democrate and popular leader in congo in order to succeed and mark history one more time and deserve his nobel prize.

    Reply
  9. Ann_Garrison

    The KPFA Editor, actually, three of the alternating Weekend News Editors, have generously made space for about as much Africa news as I can report, and have accepted as credible my reporting that many Congolese people believe that Rwanda and Uganda have colonized eastern Congo.

    The KPFA Editor only edited "who is really a Rwandan, Hyppolite Kanambe" out, with a note "TOO COMPLICATED!!!, because they thought we'd lose our audience, as we would have. And, radio stories are supposed to be simple. I probably began to hear about Hyppolite Kanambe the Rwandan six or eight months ago and this has only recently begun to make sense to me. The family relationships are interesting, but when talking to Americans, you want them to:

    1) Go find Congo on a map,
    2) Understand that the whole industrial world wants Congo's wealth.
    3) Understand that Uganda and Rwanda are invading and colonizing Congo.
    4) Understand that the US and their allies have been arming, training, and providing logistical and intelligence support to the Ugandan and Rwandan armies for years.

    Americans need to understand the fundamentals about Congo, then to understand why it should matter to them. And they might want to understand that the only piece of legislation that will ever bear the name of Senator Barack Obama alone is the Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006.

    Reply
  10. katabarwa

    Poor Africans I pity you. Stability and peace will never be brought by outsiders. If you can’t solve your problems expect no one to do so. I only regard this move as the continuation of the DIVIDE AND RULE method used by colonialists.
    Whether Obama or anyone else; no one will bring peace to Congo if the Congolese themselves have not taken the first hand.
    We can only take examples of Afghanistan and Iraq where Americans and Europeans have tried to bring peace.
    I know even if Obama intervenes it’ll not be because he cares so much about you; but for America to gain more power in this Belgian colony.
    For me the better solution is for Kabila to work with his fellow presidents mentioned in the report and find how they can solve the matter. Otherwise the Americans will come and exploit the minerals and live you dying as we’ve been used.
    AGAIN I STRESS THAT THE PROBLEMS OF CONGO WILL BE SOLVED BY CONGOLESE THEMSELVES AND THEIR NEIGHBORS BUT IF THEY ALLOW THE WEST TO INTERFERE; THEY’LL REGRET IT LATER.

    Reply
  11. mustapha kazadi

    I am not sure if westerns and americans are thefore to involve in the real democracy in DRC. They implated joseph kabila in my country for their benifits. kabila came from no where, without even formal education. the man has only six months of military training in china. all violences happening in eastern of congo are being manipulated. people open your eyes.

    Reply

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