Monday, July 22, 2013

Democratization, Catalyst for War in Congo?

'Democracy is the nurse of eloquence, because, when the multitude have the power, persuasion is the only way to govern them' - John Witherspoon, Lectures on Moral Philosophy, Lecture 12
Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the seemingly endless m23 war in the eastern Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaïre). Conflicting accounts from bloggers, refugees, aidworkers, journalists and researchers make it one of the most interesting puzzles in (African) politics today. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account that starts by focusing on the important role of the American Enterprise Institute.

During an October 24 2007 hearing Mauro De Lorenzo, a Fellow of the Foreign and Defense Policy Studies of the American Enterprise Institute, did everything he could to convince the US Senate that 'every effort should be made to discourage the Congolese government and UN forces from pursuing a military solution'. He did his best to promote Laurent Nkunda as defender of his 'community' and claimed Nkunda's force received no support, no funding and no soldiers from Rwanda. All were supposedly generated 'internally'.

This fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who studied the Banyamulenge for his doctoral dissertation at the University of Oxford, was making up facts to fit a narrative that suited his understanding of the conflict in Congo and avoided triggering a debate on withholding aid to Rwanda as stipulated in the 2006 Congo Act. Whatever his motivation to make up facts (facts he could not have knowledge of), what we do know is that he works since 2007 as Consultant for the Rwandan Presidential Advisory Team. This is obviously a conflict of interest.

Last year Steve Hege, lead author of a report on Congo by the UN Group of Experts, said in a testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that the de facto chain of command of a remnant of Laurent Nkunda's rebel group, which now calls itself m23, culminates in the Minister of Defense of Rwanda. Instead of discrediting the evidence, the Rwanda government started a character assassination campaign against the UN Group of Experts and the lead author of it's report, Steve Hege. Kigali's campaign to discredit the report which argued that Congo's problems had nothing to do with it's meddling culminated in a conference on governance and security in the great lakes region at the beginning of november 2012 at which, according to an account, De Lorenzo 'represented the United States'. Despite the fact that Rwanda could not refute the evidence, Mauro DeLorenzo claimed at the end of november 2012 in a tweet to Nicholas Kristof that Paul Kagame doesn't support the war in Congo. He eagerly participated in Rwanda's campaign against Human Rights Watch, linking (march 2013) to a report that was published abusing the name of a dead American diplomat tweeting: 'Devastating analysis of HRW's conduct in Rwanda by retired U.S. diplomat Richard Johnson'.

November 30 2008, less then a year before Rwanda's Green Party's unsuccesfull attempt to register it's party, De Lorenzo explained why he thinks 'the West' should prefer Kagame's 'relative liberal autocracy' over 'the rapid imposition, from outside, of the structures and mechanisms of multiparty democracy':
"Look carefully at what happened in Rwanda, Zaire, and Burundi, 1990 to 1994," he says. "In each case, the rapid imposition, from outside, of the structures and mechanisms of multiparty democracy leads directly to the unprecedented cataclysm that subsequently engulfed each place. People here [in America] forget or never knew; those who lived through it learned some lasting lessons."
Rapidly imposing multiparty democracy was indeed one of the catalysts of the conflicts in the region. It helped the Rwandan Patriotic Front recruit Banyamulenge in Kivu. It provided cover for the Rwandan Patriotic front's fight fight talk talk strategy leading up to the genocide in 1994. To a certain extent we could indeed say that Mobutu was forced by the winds of perstroïka blowing in eastern Europe, to try multiparty democracy as he claimed in his famous speech april 24 1990. In addition, the apartheid struggle in South Africa fueled this push for multiparty democracy. Yoweri Museveni's statement at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in 2011 gives a fairly good idea of how these narratives reinforced eachother at the time:
'The President said that when the independence of the DRC was disrupted by the schemes of imperialists, the East African countries and Congo Brazzaville, took the correct stand by resisting those schemes and Africa assisted the people of the DRC to get rid of the puppet regime of Mobutu.'
Such demagoguery confirms John Witherspoon's point in Lecture 12 on Moral Philosophy:
'pure democracy cannot subsist long, nor be carried far into the departments of state- it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage. They are also ver yapt to chouse a favourite, and vest him with such power as overtrhows their own libert,- examples, Athens and Rome.'
You would think that the first lesson anyone would learn from this is that pushing for negotiations beween the Congolese government and a rebel army commanded by the Minister of Defense of Rwanda is a really bad idea.


Ann Garrison said...

This is wonderful, Vincent. I'm going to share it with the friends I'm about to send my little KPFA Radio report to:

As always, I am impressed with your careful scholarship. it's an honor to be a sometime contributor to Colored Opinions.

Vincent Harris said...

Thank you Ann.

Priscilla said...