While We Were/Are Looking Away…



We are still obsessed with Saddam Hussein, America’s current nemesis, despite his disappearance. Now that there don’t seem to be any of those “weapons of mass destructions” (which, curiously enough, never include those weapons the US uses so frequently such as, for example, cluster bombs or the bomb somebody - in a truly Saddamian fashion of mind - called “daisy cutters”) the rationale for war has shifted away from them. Now Iraq has been invaded to liberate the Iraqis from their tyrant and to bring freedom, democracy, and human rights. This is not the place to discuss what is meant by the freedom and democracy those Iraqis might get. As the leader of the invasion troops, Mr Franks, said “freedom is not free” (link). So let’s not be petty.

But maybe we should look to those places where people - if people took our rhethorics about freedom and human rights (more) seriously (than we do) - we wouldn’t have any problem invading and defending people from being slaughtered. While we were obsessed with Kosovo, say, around a million people got slaughtered in Rwanda. And we knew about that. Actually we made the decision not to interfere. And while we’re still being subjected to a sickening barrage of predominantly US newspaper reports how Iraq got liberated in Congo thousands of people are being butchered. Let’s try not to be too cynical. Of course, Iraq has a lot of oil, and, of course, that probably was and still is one of the main reasons why the US invaded. But Congo has enormous amounts of minerals some of which are very important for all our electronic gizmos - including the ones which got used so efficiently to wipe out Iraqis. And let’s not be so cynical and say those people in Congo are black - even though, if we have an honest moment (those have become pretty rare these days!) we would have to admit that there is a shocking amount of racism in our societies.

So why is there no uproar about the slaughter in Congo? Why aren’t the US which, under Bush the minor, has become so famous for bragging about its military muscle, sending in troops to prevent the slaughter? Well, I’m afraid the truth is cynical. Reports have it that one of the reasons why the US won’t contribute - even though this time (unlike in Rwanda) they didn’t vote against it! - France has been willing to send troops. Yes, that’s right. France, the supposed “wimp” or “weasel”. And speaking of another weasel, Germany has just decided to send some supporting troops. Plus, it’s all being organized by the UN which never gets its shit together (especially not if we want it to rubberstamp one of our adventures). And, of course, there is no glory to be won in Congo. There’s no way one can bomb so Hollywood-esque like in Iraq, there’s no evil dictator which can be used like a character from some Vaudeville show, and there might be a lot of yucky fighting going on. So that’s not really what the US is after. That’s just too bad for those people in Congo. Never mind, pals, we will never see your corpses on TV anyway.

And, of course, America has to deal with its other Vaudeville characters first. Iran supposedly is developing nuclear weapons - the same snake-oil advertisement which just got exposed in Iraq works again - and there’s North Korea. So while we are looking away too few troops, mainly from those countries who did not want to invade Iraq for snake-oil reasons, are now sending some - actually too few - troops to Congo to prevent the worst - where it’s hard to define what “the worst” actually could be (given Rwanda, say). Already, 3.3 million people have died as a result of the war in Congo. Yes, that’s right. That’s probably the worst war since World War II.

If you want to know, btw, what happenend in Rwanda, take a look at Gilles Peress’ photos - taken from the book “The Silence”. I’m sure you will not have any problems to imagine what is going on in Congo now. If you do have a look at some galleries: Congo town empties, French troops in Bunia (the latter includes some nice war porn which is so popular now).

(the photo link is thru carte blanche pedicure)