by Ann Garrison
The deadliest war in the world today is the Congo War, a.k.a., the African holocaust or the African World War, a covert U.S. war waged by African proxy armies to secure Congo’s unparalleled natural resources. To secure, above all, the “geostrategic” cobalt reserves in the Katanga Copper Belt, which runs through DR Congo’s southeastern Katanga Province and into its southeastern neighbor, Zambia.
Cobalt is essential to our military industries’ ability to manufacture the modern weapons of war. So, the Congo War, a.k.a. the African holocaust, is a war for the sake of war itself.
Even the complicit United Nations reports that the Congo War is the most lethal war in the world today, with the highest death toll since World War II, though the U.N. does so primarily to fundraise for ineffective mega-U.N. charities like UNESCO, UNICEF and the UNHCR. It has never censured the United States or any other imperial power for arming, advising and ultimately controlling myriad armies and militias in DR Congo.
Many Americans who supported Barack Obama had hoped for a de-escalation of the war, the perpetual, post-09/11 War on Terror, in Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan and Pakistan and even the covert U.S. war in DR Congo, the war for the sake of war itself.
And many are now shocked by Obama’s decision to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq, to send 17,000 more to Afghanistan, to bomb Pakistani insurgents and to stand behind Israel, no matter how mercilessly it bombs Gaza. And, to hike the U.S. military budget by 4 percent in 2010, startling even Robert Gates, Bush’s former defense secretary, who is now Barack Obama’s.
The Congo War continues, with little protest visible beyond the Internet. It moved into a new phase on Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009, when new, wholly illogical military alliances emerged. The official story advanced then and since by the U.S. State Department, the Rwandan, Ugandan and Congolese governments, and the U.N., then regurgitated by obedient corporate news outlets, is that the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), instructed by U.S. military advisers, crossed into southeastern DR Congo to join the Congolese Army (FARDC), the U.N. peacekeepers (MONUC) and the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) in hunting down rebel Gen. Laurent Nkunda, the former commander of the CNDP, one of the groups now allied to hunt down both him and his career enemies, the Forces Democratique de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR).
In December 2008, reports were that on the Ugandan border of Eastern Congo, U.S. military advisers had helped organize the Ugandan army (UPDF) to cross into northeastern DR Congo to join the Congolese army and the U.N. peacekeepers (MONUC) in hunting down the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In March, the Congolese government agreed to let them stay, indefinitely.
These alliances and these accounts of them are so riddled with contradiction that deconstructing them would only play into the hands of those so carefully obscuring the fundamental reality of the Congo War. How many Americans would be anything but dizzy and confused by this list of acronyms for just the best known militias and armies fighting in DR Congo: CNDP, FDLR, UPDF, RDF, FARDC, MONUC?
So, let’s forget the acronyms; forget all the African militias and armies fighting proxy wars for the imperial interests of the U.S. and other imperial powers. Americans should understand instead why the U.S. is fighting a covert war in DR Congo.
The stakes in the Congo War are enormously high. They include:
1) War itself, because, again, the Congo war is, above all, a war for cobalt, the mineral most essential to the manufacture of modern weapons of war. Cobalt is required to build jet fighter bomber engines, missiles, including nuclear missiles, battleships, including our nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, and virtually all modern industrially manufactured weapons of war, except perhaps biological and chemical weapons.
Cobalt is essential to the manufacture of anything requiring high grade steel.
Shocks in cobalt’s supply and price during the 1970s and early ‘80s led to a 1982 Congressional Budget Office document warning that the U.S. would have to be prepared to go to war to secure cobalt reserves so as to secure the power to manufacture for war, especially in time of war.
2) An ongoing African holocaust, the systematic destruction of the Congolese people. Six million have died, according to widely acknowledged sources including the International Relief Commission and the U.N. Forty-five thousand Congolese continue to die every month, with no end in sight; many die in refugee camps of starvation and easily curable disease, and one third of these are children.
3) Barack Obama’s legacy, and our legacy, as the Americans who elected him. Will our legacy be an ongoing African holocaust, another 6 million African Congolese lives? Will it be the expansion of Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, throughout Africa and the further plundering of Africa’s resources?
Some, including Black Agenda Report editor Glen Ford, say that Barack Obama is “U.S. corporate empire in Black face” or that corporate America desperately needed a Black face now. This is arguable, especially given that, in 2007, Africa surpassed the U.S. wartorn Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports.
However, though huge corporations generously filled Obama’s campaign coffers, so did many everyday Americans, who also organized and rallied for Obama with high hopes of peace and change. Many now at least seem to have a place at the table that they didn’t have before.
Is there anything we, ordinary Americans, can do to end this war for the sake of war? Acting to stop the Congo War is daunting indeed. I really can’t imagine action at the federal level, because I simply can’t imagine the national apparatus of force – the military, foreign policy, intelligence and police agencies – acting to deconstruct themselves.
The only successful actions that I can imagine are local. Here’s a list of those which occur to me, though only, again, with “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” I list them to keep faith with many of my dearest friends, who believe that the election of Barack Obama, our first African American U.S. president, has indeed made all things possible:
1) Cancel our invitation to the annual all forces military recruitment drive, best known as Fleet Week and the Blue Angels Air Show. Despite its use of African proxy armies, the U.S. military could not sustain and expand Africom, the U.S. Africa Command, and continue to prosecute the Congo War, without troops.
2) Implement Community Choice Renewable Energy legislation passed by the San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors, which calls upon the city to build a clean, renewable power infrastructure based on solar, tidal and wind power. The Congo War and ‘most all the covert wars in Africa, including that in Sudan’s Darfur, are wars for Africa’s oil, natural gas, coal, acreage planted for bio-fuels and uranium.
3) Apologize for the 1961 assassination of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first elected president, Patrice Emery Lumumba, by CIA and Belgian operatives and call on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to do so as well. Belgium apologized on Jan. 17, the 40th anniversary of Lumumba’s assassination. Though the CIA’s involvement is now widely acknowledged, it has never been acknowledged by the U.S. government, just as the U.S. covert war in DR Congo is not acknowledged now.
4) Call on Barack Obama to close the U.S. military base in Kigali, Rwanda, and end all U.S. military support to its authoritarian African puppet regimes, including those of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan President Paul Kagame and now Congolese President Joseph Kabila.
Yes, we can?
Ann Garrison is a Bay Area journalist and activist and the website writer-editor of thepriceofuranium.com. She also blogs at Colored Opinions, where this story first appeared. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.