A MURDER IN CONGO, PART 2

Borba100 at SPAMaol.com Borba100 at SPAMaol.com
Thu Jan 18 23:11:06 MST 2001


A MURDER IN CONGO, PART 2

DB: Mobutu Seso Seko was following the French pattern whereas these new
leaders were following the U.S. neoliberal model. So the U.S. government, and
the Anglo-American media suddenly discovered that Mobutu, with whom they had
had no complaints up til then, was very, very bad. They were hoping Kabila
would turn out to be a controllable neoliberal when he was implanted.

Jared: So you think initially that the US wanted Mobutu out.

DB: It was part of a broader dynamic because Mobutu for the US had become
rather inconvenient. He was hosting Hutu militias which were trying to
overturn the Rwandan Patriotic Front's victory in Rwanda and they were
staging attacks in Burundi against the Tutsi dominated government that has
repressed Hutus in Burundi. And the United States has had a very active
policy of trying to suppress these militias and trying to eliminate this Hutu
influence and restore the Tutsi dominance in Central Africa.

Jared: The Tutsi elite being the U.S. ally there.

DB: Yes. The strategy is to create a sort of greater-Tutsi sphere of
influence throughout Central Africa including the Tutsis in Eastern Congo,
known as the Banyamulenge.

The point here is the U.S. strategy requires that they heighten differences.
make them more extreme. The Hutus and the Tutsi people in Eastern Congo were
called Banyarwanda, without differentiation - a kind of a broad designation
for people that share similar linguistic characteristics. With the Tutsis and
the Hutus, the division is not linguistic, or cultural or national, you see,
so much as it is a class division, between former elites and the lower
classes, former serfs.

Essentially, these are the same people, though the Hutus originally were
farmers and the Tutsis were more often herdsmen. But what the colonialists in
this area have done is a classic process of ethnogenesis. This was
deliberately instigated. They literally created new ethnic groups to divide
and rule. In the same way, in Kosovo you saw the Western media and supposed
experts like Noel Malcolm popularize the term 'Kosovar'.

Their problem was that since there is a functioning state known as Albania
ethnic Albanians in Kosovo could hardly claim a right to national
self-determination; they already had self-determination in the form of the
Albanian state. The classic right to self-determination under International
Law was already fulfilled for the Albanians as opposed, let us say, to the
Kurds, who have no state. So to justify a separatist movement in Kosovo, the
Western neo-colonialists had to mak-up a new national group, the 'Kosovars'.
It's really rather absurd.

But absurd or not, colonial powers have been doing it throughout history -
creating ethnic groups or polarizing groups that might have some cleavage and
emphasizing cleavages or differences to play groups off against each other.
And this is precisely what they have been doing in Africa and South Asia,
such as in Ceylon, for instance.

Usually they will have a military race, and they will play up its supposed
military characteristics, and they will have a ruling race and they will try
to get them into the administration, and they will have a toiling race. Got
to have a toiling race, don't you know? And they create these stereotypes
that ethnic groups are encouraged to buy into. This sort of poison was
injected into Africa by the colonialists.

Jared: Just as they did in Bosnia, with the Muslims. They'd been the
privileged section, both under the Ottoman Empire and the Nazis, and the U.S.
played up their elitism versus the supposedly lower class Serbs.

DB: Exactly. Divide et impera, the old Roman divide and rule. It's a classic
tool of empire. In reality, the Congo is rather complex. It's got a big
population, over fifty million over an immense area. Identities are
ambiguous. What the Imperial forces have been trying to do is make the
differences between the peoples in the region very sharp - exaggerate
existing divisions as much as possible. Not just in Congo, but throughout
Central Africa.

An additional factor in this situation is the French-U.S. split. They have
been supporting different sides and they had very different visions for the
region; the civilians got caught in the middle of this Imperial struggle. And
then suddenly you had Kabila doing an about-face and telling the entire West,
"Hands off!" Though he does have more affinity for French diplomacy and the
French have been willing to give him leeway. It's this whole idea that the
French intellectuals have of resisting American hegemonism. They are
advocating a multi-polar world as opposed to a Uni-polar world. They call the
United States a Hyperpower.

Jared: The term has a certain charm; it suggests a hyper-active child armed
with Depleted Uranium weapons. Madeline Albright comes to mind. But getting
back to this situation…

DB: The root of the Tutsi-Hutu problem in Central Africa is that the West has
created ethnic identities out of what were essentially caste differences. (3)
The Tutsis are not a tribe, any more than say the Brahmins in India are a
tribe.

Jared: To give people a simplified description, would it be appropriate to
translate Tutsi and Hutu as rulers and ruled?

DB: It would.

Jared: Let me read you a quote. A group of educated Hutu's wrote to the Tutsi
royal court in Rwanda in 1958, asking for equality, for an end to feudal
conditions. Here's how the court answer:

"It might well be asked how it is that the Hutus now claim their rights to
the redistribution of the common patrimony. It is a matter of fact that the
relationship between ourselves (Tutsis) and themselves (Hutus) has always
been based on serfdom; there is not, then, any basis for fraternity between
us. If our kings conquered the Hutu's country, killing their petty kings, and
thereby subjecting the Hutus to servitude, how can they now aspire to be our
brothers?" (See footnote 3, below)

DB: Yes, this was 1958. Attitudes had already hardened under the Belgian
colonialists and it got worse after '58. There is a whole history of how
Belgium manipulated the situation. When they were withdrawing they suddenly
changed allegiance from the Tutsis to the Hutus and then they would change
back and so on in order to increase the tensions.

The consequence of all this has been quite terrible. A good deal of blood has
been spilled between the Tutsis and the Hutus. It did not simply start in
1994 with the Rwandan Genocide, as the Anglo-American media would have us
believe. 1994 wasn't the beginning or end of the story. By focusing only on
that one period [the killings in 1994] the West is attempting to justify the
current rule of the Rwandan Democratic Front [RPF], the pro-U.S. Tutsi group.
That's the whole focus of the U.S.-dominated War Crimes Tribunal in Rwanda -
to punish the Hutus and whitewash the Tutsi leaders, who are defined as
innocent since they are allied with the U.S.

Many people would argue that the terrible events in Rwanda were in fact
triggered by the [Tutsi] RPF. When the RPF entered the country, they drove
nearly a million people out of northern Rwanda. These were Hutus. Following
that a cease-fire was agreed to and some of the Hutu people entered neutral
buffer areas. But many had been disillusioned by the RTF invasion which
created a radicalized population of nearly a million displaced Hutus. And
this precipitated heightened ethnic tensions. The RTF was fully supported by
Uganda and the United States. That of course was noticed by the Hutu elite
who at that point ruled Rwanda and of course it created a very high degree of
paranoia. Indeed, perhaps it was not entirely paranoia.

In any case, there was a history of mistrust. What launched the so-called
Rwandan Genocide was the shooting down of Rwandan President Habyarimana's
plane. Habyarimana was a Hutu.

Jared: I understand there is considerable evidence that the US supplied the
SAM missiles that did the job.

DB: Central African scholars generally agree that RTF shot down the plane,
and the RTF was a U.S. ally. Let us say that every step of the way US policy
makers took steps that strengthened the hand of the more extreme forces in
the Hutu government. (4)

Terrible killings did follow the assassination but it is wrong to simply
blame the Hutus. When the [Tutsi] RTF entered Rwanda and displaced those
million Hutus - one million mind you - they did it with considerable
violence. The Hutus were driven from their homes, butchered, their property
looted. And then, the Presidential plane was shot down - and it wasn't only
President Habyarimana on board, there was also President Habyarimana, who was
a Hutu and the democratically elected President of Burundi.

(Continued, Part 3)





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