Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"The Congo Doesn't Exist"

Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills say it's time to stop pretending the Congo exists. Instead, they say, foreign governments and aid agencies should deal with whoever exerts control on the ground--even if they constitute a confusing array of governors, traditional leaders, warlords, and others.

The problem is that all of the above are at each other's throats. The Congo's geography provides endless opportunities for plunder; without a hegemon of some sort the fighting will go on forever. At the moment, there are only two plausible candidates for the role of hegemon: MONUC and the Congolese state. If we are serious about ending the chaos that has characterized eastern Congo, the only solution is to amp up MONUC and enable it to act as the de facto state while we help the actual Congolese state gets its act together. The fact that this isn't in the cards right now doesn't mean this isn't the solution; it just means that the chaos of eastern Congo will continue.

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