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The Poisonwood Congo
November 22, 2012
by William P. Meyers

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"Two hundred different languages," he said, "spoken inside the borders of a so-called country invented by Belgians in a parlor." — The Poisonwood Bible

A few days ago the United Nations announced it was attacking rebels in the Congo with modern attack helicopters. Imagine thousands of bullets per minute flying at you. You would think that would stop a rebel.

Instead the army of the Congo disintegrated and U.N. peacekeepers stood down while the rebels, known as M23, triumphantly entered Goma. The government of the Congo, and the U.N., claim that M23 is being aided by the army of Rwanda. The U.S. is being careful about criticizing Rwanda, at least for the moment.

The prize? Minerals, potential land for international corporate farming, and geopolitical positioning.

To the extent that Americans are interested in the Congo, they don't have the factual background to understand the situation. Consider this a primer on what your governing corporate security state does not want you to know about the Congo and Africa in general.

First, a bit of illuminating fiction, and I don't mean what will be coming out of the mouths of Hillary Clinton and other professional story tellers. If you have not read it already, you might want to read Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Poisonwood Bible. In it an American preacher takes his family to a remote village in the Congo and tries to convert the natives to his version of Christianity.

The preacher, and his suffering wife and daughters, cannot translate their American beliefs into Congolese. The preacher's barking translates poorly into the native tongue. Among other mistakes, he pushes the villagers to baptize their children in a river that is dangerous because of crocodiles. "'Tata Jesus is bangala!' declares the Reverend every Sunday at the end of his sermon ... Bangala means something precious and dear. But the way he pronounces it, it means the poisonwood tree." While the family is there Congo gains independence and its first elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, is murdered in a CIA and Belgian plot.

It is important to recall that the United Nations was formed as a military organization during World War II and has always been controlled by three imperialist powers: the United States of America, the British Empire (now just Great Britain), and France. The Congo was a Belgian colony, but the French had major interests there and of course after World War II the American jackals moved in for the feast. Oh, wait, that's US. After independence honest U.S. business men helped the Congo by introducing more efficient methods for extracting minerals and other forms of wealth and shipping them back to America. It must be the lack of Christian go-getter culture that has kept the natives impoverished these last five decades. [Sarcasm alert]

But you can't just look at the biggest parts of the picture, the U.S. global business and governance system, of which the U.N. is a cog. You need to see the role played by Rwanda and Somalia, or rather U.S. strategic interests in those nations, at the very least.

U.S. equipped armies from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Ethiopia are currently operating in Somalia, trying to bring that nation back into the U.S. fold, and aiding a government of warlords also backed by the U.S. They are fighting Shabaab, who may have degenerated into a nasty lot, but at least they are a nasty Somali lot. Shabaab would not have amounted to anything if the U.S., its local bribe-taking warlords, and the Ethiopians had not ousted the prior, grassroots-built, moderate Islamic government known as the Islamic Union or Islamic Justice Courts.

Rwanda, of course, is mostly known for the genocide that happened there. It is a small, overpopulated nations of 12 million, or over 1000 per square mile, despite being mostly rural. It is bordered by both Uganda and Burundi, both also important to U.S. plans to dominate Africa, as shown by their willingness to send their soldiers to die for U.S. pay in Somalia. Rwanda was colonized late by the Germans, who because of its remoteness were mainly content to be puppet masters. After World War I the Belgians grabbed it. Gaining independence in 1962 coincided with the splitting off of Burundi.

It is a delicate set of dominoes the U.S. seeks to keep in line. U.S. objectives in Africa are to minimize Chinese inroads, stamp out Islam and native pagan beliefs in favor of Christianity, and covert small freeholders into agricultural slaves on giant corporate farms. In addition to controlling the mineral wealth. But Africans have their own issues, including ethnic, religious, and economic rivalries.

Note that all these nations are members of the African Union, which was formed in 2002. While ostensibly a goal of the AU is "To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States," the problem is its governments are easily bribed and corrupted, including by military and "humanitarian" aid from the United States.

Back in the Congo, the U.S. is particularly interested in the supply of cobalt, an element with many uses and critical to making jet engine parts. The Congo contains 80% of the world's cobalt ores. It produces large amounts of copper, industrial diamonds, tin, and tantalum, which is particularly important to the electronics industry. Its agricultural potential is enormous. Hence the U.S. is training an elite Congolese military force, and the U.N. has a major military presence.

Why was a small group of rebels able to defeat the Army of the Congo backed by U.N. forces with advanced helicopter gunships in the fore? Because the government of led by Joseph Kabila is corrupt and incompetent, but also because the Congo is not really a nation, but is really just lines on a map. Kabila is corrupt partly because he has to be to survive.

Best historical parallel? The "government of China" under Chiang Kai-shek. No matter how much money the U.S. poured into the "Nationalist" Chiang regime in China between 1932 and the communist takeover, it went into luxuries for warlords, not bullets to fight the Japanese or communists. What the U.S. called the "democratic" regime of China was so hated in the end that entire armies simply turned on Chiang Kai-shek and joined the communists.

It seems likely now that the Shabaab will be defeated in Somalia and the pro-U.S. regime will survive as long as the U.S. keeps providing money. The problem with this form of imperialism is that it does not build up the strength of the fatherland. It gradually sucks the home nation dry, as the British Empire learned.

U.S. imperialism is in an advanced stage of collapse. Let's just hope the collapse does not take down our economy with it. The Phony Fiscal Cliff negotiations. should be about the cost of imperialism, but instead will be worked to the benefit of investment bankers and the military industrial complex.

The Poisonwood Congo is difficult for people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to understand. Do they even remember that Joseph Kabila himself was backed by Rwanda and Uganda when he overthrew Mobutu? The problem with the U.S. trying to buy clients is that such people may not stay bought. China will soon be able to outbid the U.S. What then?

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