Summary: Another misleading title on the FM website. In fact our bomb-happy geopolitical experts are true professionals, working their rice bowls — shilling to keep the US military and its contractors fat and happy. So it’s off to war in the Congo — our young men to die on ventures funded by the national VISA card!
From the FM career counseling service for aspiring geopolitical experts: Advocate war. Always. Everywhere. Any war is a good war, no matter how preposterous its justification. Here we have a fine example: “Why the U.S. Should Send Troops (and Spooks) to the Congo“, David Axe, writing at The Danger Room (gotta love that title) of Wired magazine, 20 September 2010.
It requires no rebuttal, as Axe barely bothers to state reasons. Injustice! Minerals! Easy victory! Perhaps he assumes that the American public has become so well-trained that little more than a dog whistle suffices, leading us to war. Too bad we no longer have many conservatives, folks advocating small government and only necessary foreign wars.
They arrive in the night like monsters. In northeastern Congo, in a swath of thick forest the size of some European countries, the apocalyptic Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group is a constant, foreboding presence. The LRA’s fighters — many of them kidnapped teens — murder, abduct, rape and pillage while constantly eluding a half-heartedly pursuing Congolese army.
… Problem is, Congo can’t handle the task of taking down the LRA. With just 300 miles of paved roads in the whole country and no air force to speak of, the Congolese military can’t move fast enough to keep up with the LRA. Besides, the Congolese army has been cobbled together from various former rebel groups plus troops inherited from the country’s previous regime. “There is very little discipline,” Marcel Stoessel, Congo director for the aid group Oxfam U.K., said of the Congolese army. To beat the LRA, Congo needs help from an army adept at locating elusive groups in rough terrain, and an air force trained to speed small, lethal teams to the battle zone. Sound like any military we know?
Two years ago, the U.S. formed a new command to handle most of the African continent. Africa Command — based in Germany to avoid accusations of colonialism — is by necessity a new kind of military organization.
… So why not get involved where it can really help? That’s what advocates of U.S. action in Congo are asking. After all, this is a mineral-rich country that takes millions and millions in foreign donations, mostly from America. So find the LRA, and kill or capture the chiefs before they make an already desperate country even worse.
But do it the Africom way. No massive troop deployment. No occupation. No drawn-out conflict. No headline news in the U.S. Just a few spooks, a few commandos, some airplanes and choppers and the permission of Congolese president Joseph Kabila. By American military standards, it wouldn’t take much. But it would make life a lot safer for millions of people in Central Africa — and might help reduce the cost to the world of keeping Congo on life support. Plus, it could show the way forward for a smarter, less expensive American way of war.
There are just two problems. First, the U.S. military has tried taking out the LRA before, albeit indirectly — and failed. Last year, Ugandan and U.N. forces acting on U.S.-provided intelligence launched an offensive aimed at taking out LRA leadership. But the rebels escaped … and killed hundreds of civilians as they hacked their way deeper into the forest.
Second, despite a growing body of legislation meant to define America’s role in Congo’s conflicts, at the moment there’s no clear U.S. policy regarding Congo and no prospect of one emerging anytime soon. The U.S. military might be the best solution to Congo’s LRA problem, but it’s a solution lacking one key component: political will.
For sensible coverage of the Congo wars …
See Gary Brecher, The War Nerd, writing at The Exile.
- Congo: The War without Battles, 3 March 2003
- The 90s: We Watched the Wrong Wars, 2 December 2005
- Congo Warrior Nkunda Is Nkool, 11 November 2008
- Interview Tips for General Nkunda, 9 January 2009