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Tuesday, June 14, 2005


This Christian Science Monitor story on the ongoing civil war in the Congo, and the lack of media attention focused on it, is well worth reading.:

Indeed. What the world media are missing is one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II: 3.8 million people have died in the Congo since 1998, dwarfing not only the biggest of natural catastrophes, such as December's South Asia tsunami, but also other manmade horrors, such as Darfur. Congo's situation is complicated - any war on such a scale would be - but the outlines of the current stage of the conflict are straightforward enough for any journalist to summarize. After four years of civil war (a free-for-all in which eight neighboring countries played a part) a transitional government was established in Kinshasa, the capital, in 2003. Since then, the warlords-turned-politicians who dominate the transition, each of whom still maintains his own militia, have vied for political advantage and access to the country's vast economic resources. None is above using violence as a means to stay in power and resist the integration of the country, and that violence looks set to get worse in the run-up to elections, technically slated for this month, though certain now to be postponed - a delay that in itself may cause significant unrest. The deadly game has one particularly poisonous wild card: the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a key rebel group in the eastern Congo that regularly attacks civilians. Because the FDLR has its origins in the Hutu extremists who slaughtered 800,000 people in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Rwanda has a pretext to invade its neighbor, which it has done at least twice in recent years and threatened to do again in April - a move that would undermine Congo's fragile transition and could reignite a regional war. With so many dying and so much at stake, it is simply astounding that Congo isn't in the newspapers and on nightly news regularly. Even a nonlethal car bombing in Iraq or a kidnapping in Afghanistan gets more Western media coverage in a day than Congo gets in a typical month of 30,000 dead. So much for the old TV news editors' saw, 'If it bleeds, it leads.'
It is also worth addressing, especially in light of my earlier post on weapon ownership as a fundamental right to the author's solution:
But solutions do exist for Congo: The linchpin to resolving the conflict is the creation of a unified and effective national army and the disarmament of the remaining ragtag forces that are the source of so much suffering.
I stand by my assertion that owning firearms is a fundamental human right. However, it is also apparent that as this post intimates at that governments need to possess a monopoly on the legal initiation of violence. Resolving this connundrum as a nation (hopefully) transitions is difficult. We have this problem in both Afghanistan and Iraq currently. Certainly there is a good case to be made that for anarchic situations, a strong national government must first be formed and while disarming the populace would, in my view, be a last resort, it certainly can be argued to be necessary in some cases. I would though, if I were in charge, put in place a system where this right would be returned to the people as the government stabilized.


Blogger The probligo said...

The best that the world has been able to come up with in this sad conflict is to ban the sale of "blood diamonds" on the grounds that the proceeds are used to purchase arms and ammunition.

Heigh Ho!!

6/15/2005 01:44:00 AM  

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