Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Economist "Gets It"

The Economist, in an article titled "Paying for Murder," shows that it understands the implications of the latest UN Expert Group report:
Rwanda has often intervened in Congo, arguing that it has done so to protect Congolese Tutsis and to hunt down those Hutus responsible for the genocide. This has evoked the sympathy of foreigners, particularly in the United States and Britain, who have chosen not to examine Rwanda’s actions in Congo too closely.

The UN report makes it impossible for them to look away. Rwanda’s support for the CNDP is fuelling much of the violence. General Nkunda deserves to be in the dock at The Hague for war crimes. The report also shows that both General Nkunda’s lot and the main Congolese-backed Hutu militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, have links with mining companies. Both extort large sums of money from mines they control. They also do illegal mining, from which Rwanda profits as well. The booty helps pay the militias to fight, giving them good reason to carry on the conflict.
Rwanda’s government, in particular, depends heavily on Western aid; in the past five years it has received more than $1.6 billion. That should stop until Mr Kagame starts to restrain General Nkunda and his militia. The Dutch and Swedes have given a lead, cancelling their aid to Rwanda in protest against its government’s backing of the murderous general. Other governments, notably Britain’s, which is Rwanda’s single biggest backer, should do likewise until Mr Kagame changes his ways.

The benefit of having The Economist on board is enormous. The recommendations of human rights groups can be marginalized, no matter how accurately they document the abuses. (And I can testify that calls to tighten the screws on Kagame have been treated as a non-starter for most of the past decade--at least in the US.) But once the Economist endorses an idea, it automatically achieves a certain level of respectability. It stops being a non-starter and enters the realm of the possible.

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