News Release

Albright and Congo: Analysts


As part of what the Clinton administration calls the “month of Africa,” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be presiding over a UN Security Council meeting today about the civil war in Congo (formerly Zaire). The following analysts are available for interviews:

Author of the widely acclaimed “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa,” Hochschild said today: “The unlucky Congo has known virtually nothing but plunder for the last several hundred years. First by the slave-traders; then by the rapacious King Leopold II of Belgium, who slashed the population of his privately-owned colony by some 10 million people; then, in a less murderous way, by the Belgian colonial regime; and finally by the long U.S.-supported dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko and his multinational corporate allies. It should be no surprise to anyone that this is a country where democracy is having a hard time taking root.”

Professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University and author of the recent article “The U.S. Government, the Security Council and the Peace Process in the Congo,” Campbell said today: “Peace is the responsibility of Africans, but the U.S. bears responsibility because of its backing of Mobutu and Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. Compare how peace in the Congo is treated with how it is treated in Ireland. We have to get Africa out of the genocide discourse. There’s an expectation that there will not be peace in Africa that is based on stereotypes.”
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Today, the World Policy Institute releases a report, “Deadly Legacy: U.S. Arms to Africa and the Congo War.” Co-author of the report and an Institute senior fellow, Hartung said: “The $1.5 billion in U.S. arms and training sent to Africa during the Cold War set the stage for the current round of conflicts in the region.” Among the report’s findings:

Many of the top U.S. Cold War arms clients in Africa have turned out to be the top basket cases of the 1990s in terms of violence, instability, and economic collapse.

Although the Clinton administration has been quick to criticize the governments involved in the Congo War, the U.S. has helped build the arsenals of eight of the nine governments directly involved in the war that has ravaged Congo since Laurent Kabila’s coup.

The Clinton administration is now undertaking a wave of new military training programs in Africa. Between 1991-1998, U.S. weapons and training deliveries to Africa totaled more than $227 million. Even as it fuels military build-ups, the United States continues cutting development assistance to Africa, though the U.S. already falls dead last among industrialized nations in providing non-military foreign aid to the developing world.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167