Tag Archives: DR Congo

Do we have a soft spot for mercenaries

Norwegian Tjostolv Moland sentenced to death in Kisangani, DRCIt’s damning photograph. I sought it out after hearing the story of the two Norwegian mercenaries condemned to death in the Congo for the murder of their Congolese driver. Was their black companion killed in an attempt to rob the white adventurers, as they tell it? US news outlets asked Tjostolv Moland’s mothers about the picture of her son, which showed him smiling as he wiped blood from the driver’s seat of their pickup. The mother dismissed it as bad timing, she though her son was probably caught off guard, laughing at a joke unrelated to his morbid task. Boy can Americans relate.

Other US newspapers speculated about a fabled Norwegian propensity to laugh at adversity. They also described Norwegian diplomats scrambling to save the two boys from the gallows. It’s true that Norway doesn’t have a death sentence, and therefore does not condone it elsewhere. Otherwise US and BBC portrayal of Norwegian concern for the two mercenaries seemed at odds with Norway’s usual determined pacifism, so I was eager to hear from my relatives there.

The scoop? Contrary to US and UK sentiments and their projection of Norwegian concerns, there is no domestic sympathy for the two wayward boys. None.

The Norwegian public has become well aware that Moland and partner Joshua French have been traveling the Congo as mercenaries, and have been involved in other killings as well. The fact that Congolese courts are trying to extort a large fine from the Norwegian government, based on the accusation of the two travelers being agents of Norway, is due to documents which the two forged to pretend they had active duty contact with the Norwegian military.

In Norway, military service is compulsory. Every Norwegian male has a record of military service. It helps that Norway rarely involves itself with acts of aggression, sanctioned by a fraternity of nations or not. And when soldiers of fortune like Moland and French set about rampaging in Africa, it behooves Norwegian authorities to ensure that their military is not implicated by association.

How fitting that US and UK listeners should presume a reflexive maternal instinct to protect the two white boys, set upon by angry African opportunists. The boys might be mercenaries, but America and Britain have lots of those overseas. Hired guns, paid assassins, professional killers, why quibble with words?

The laws of war grant little grace for mercenaries, but that’s not what English-speaking supporters of imperial expansion want to believe. Mercenaries in the Neocon vernacular are called private contractors. They’re just ordinary soldiers who’ve escaped the poor pay of military service, to the entrepreneurial ranks of war-making free enterprise.

The United Nations pushes war and starvation onto the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, and Haiti

haitiAid workers: Hungry kids dying in Haiti- At least 26 malnourished children have perished; scores others treated You saw that picture of the starving young girl in Haiti in the US media last week as they reported the rise of starvation inside Haiti post this year’s hurricane season. They didn’t mention though that the United Nations is overseeing this starvation on behalf of the United States government.

This is more than a tragedy that somehow just fell out of the sky and the Haitians themselves are certainly not to blame. You can thank the United States government, the United Nations, and YES, you can thank the lazy, lazy, not-so-liberal ‘Peace’crats here in the US, who think that the United Nations is the cure all of all problems instead of a major instrument of the US government’s imperialism for sitting by and letting this happen. These ‘Peace’crats are the folk to blame for helping let the United Nations rule over the peoples of these multiple countries through these US pushed ‘UN mandates’ and letting them starve to death.

Yes, billions of dollars go into using United Nations troops and the people are starving in these countries. Why in the world are sincere, good hearted young people wanting the United Nations to intervene yet more? Can’t they see what this US government directed, United Nations intervention leads to? Apparently not…

It’s time to call for the US and the UN to get out of all these countries once and for all. The UN does not bring in the economic support these people need, but instead are no more a Pentagon back up squad. The US antiwar movement needs to stop pretending that the UN is up to some good, since despite all the blather about world ‘peace’, the UN merely assists the US in spreading war and starvation across the planet.

Uncle Tom’s Hotel Rwanda

Is the Don Cheedle?Let’s clear something up for the sake of poetic justice. Uncle Tom was a maltreated slave who bore his burden with dignity. He was no collaborator, no stool pigeon, no upper class of black slave that kept the lower savages in order. That “Uncle Tom” is what the term has come to mean: a white man’s black man, owing perhaps to the original character’s civilized humanity which a white reader might not have expected to be a capacity of an African slave. The neo-Uncle Tom is a Tutsi.

I heard the film Hotel Rwanda was just incredible, I’m sure it was. I watched the Frontline documentary to commemorate the anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda and so thought I knew the sad story already. Well I was right and I was wrong, but not about the film.

The mounting trouble in the Democratic Republic of Congo is causing leaders to forewarn of genocide such as Rwanda experienced in 1994. We’re told the same Hutus are marauding today. In addressing the issues of the Congo, do we have an understanding of what happened in 1994, beside the film dramatization?

The question to ask is whether what happened in Rwanda was genocide. That’s not to minimize the killings, but to scrutinize the motives. Was the fighting between Hutus and Tutsis racially motivated tribal warfare, or was it class warfare? Were the events of 1994 components of a peasant rebellion, distinguished by the opposing forces being from different ethnicities?

The distinction is critical. Behind the Hotel Rwanda imagery is the theme that African tribes need to be protected from each other. This happens in the form of UN intervention usually. The storytellers also know that if the narrative is bloody enough, a Western audience is just as ready to throw up its hands. Thus our impulse to join the Peace Corps or Medecins Sans Frontieres is quietly scrubbed in favor of calling in the cavalry. And then, only in the event of genocide.

Someone keeps wanting Westerners to believe that African tribes will continue to kill each other regardless what we do. Is it true? No, the Africans fight because of what we do.

The Tutsi victims of Hotel Rwanda were not just hotel keepers and clerks. The Tutsis were the administrative enforcers of post-colonial central Africa. The Hutus were the oppressed, and rose up against the Tutsis after generations of oppression and killings.

If Africa were let to develop autonomous states from its indigenous populations, its people could put their natural resources to use improving their lives. Instead, our post-colonial tentacles continue to stir up instability. Our business interests make sure that the native Africans never get their footing. We fund strong men to enforce violent rule over the inhabitants. It’s a controlled instability that facilitates the minimal societal infrastructure our traders require. But instability is difficult a balancing act. When the mayhem gets out of hand, peace-keepers are brought in at the people’s expense, to restore the disordered order.