Conflict in the Congo: A legacy of Empire, Tyranny and Kleptocracy
MetadataShow full item record
I argue in "Conflict in the Congo: A Legacy of Empire, Tyranny and Kleptocracy" that the seemingly endless war and ethnic conflict that has plagued the fledgling Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout the 21st century, is primarily a result of the long and destructive legacy of imperialism, tyranny and kleptocracy in the Congo Basin beginning with King Leopold II and culminating with the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko and its aftermath. Western intervention in the Congo first began with King Leopold's takeover and rule starting in 1885 as chronicled in the brilliant monograph King Leopold's Ghost by renowned historian Adam Hochschild. After massive international uproar over genocidal practices, King Leopold sold his colony to the Belgian government in 1908. Forty more years of Belgian colonial rule would ignite the flames of popular resistance in the 20th century that culminated in an independent government headed by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in 1960. But after Lumumba's assassination by the CIA resulting from collusion between the Belgians, the Americans, and Joseph Mobutu, the Congo descended into civil war. Mobutu with American support emerged victorious, and he set about a forty-year reign of terror that was extensively documented in the book Mobutu's Totalitarian Political System by political scientist Peta Ikambana. Mobutu's U.S. backed authoritarian regime managed to transfer vast amounts of resources out of the Congo and into the industrialized West. Unable to withstand another draining kleptocratic regime the Congo was propelled into the Rwandan genocide and its resulting Great African War. The bloody collapse of Mobutu's Congo led to the chaotic birth of the current Democratic Republic of the Congo. This historical investigation into the modern Congo's history and its relation to the regions present, reveals that only through a proper understanding of the past can we begin to address the reoccurring causes of Congolese suffering and poverty.