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U.S. role in Congo needs investigating
Posted By Joseph Farah On 08/22/1997 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
I’ve got an idea for Sen. Fred Thompson if he’s willing to expand his already wide-ranging investigation into campaign financing issues and abuse-of-power charges.
Somebody armed with subpoena power needs to look into how and why the U.S. trained military forces in Rwanda and what role that mission had in overthrowing the government of Zaire, now called the Congo. Furthermore — and this is the biggest question — we need a full examination of U.S. business interests in Central Africa and what, if any, connection they had to U.S. foreign policy.
It may not sound like one of the burning issues of the day. But the answers may lead right to the root of the biggest question facing the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee: Is U.S. policy, foreign or domestic, for sale to the highest bidder?
The Washington Post reported last weekend that, according to an internal Defense Department document, U.S. involvement with Rwanda’s military has been far more extensive than previously disclosed — “including psychological operations and tactical Special Forces exercises that occurred a few weeks before the start of last fall’s Rwanda-led insurgency in neighboring Congo.”
For the last three years, U.S. military personnel, in full battle dress uniform, have been training hundreds of Rwandans in combat techniques, military management, disaster relief, soldier team development, land-mine removal and military justice, according to the document still in preparation.
“The program has not been as innocuous as it is being made out to be,” said one unnamed policy official familiar with the situation.
The Rwandan military is dominated by members of the Tutsi tribe. At the time the U.S. involvement began, the Tutsis were mounting a campaign against ethnic Hutus, who were attacking Rwanda from refugee camps in neighboring Zaire. That military campaign evolved into a broader war that eventually led to the downfall of Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and the rise of a new leader, Laurent Kabila. In fact, those same Rwandan forces, trained by the U.S., in turn trained Kabila’s revolutionary forces.
Human rights observers say the U.S. training went beyond military advice to include counterinsurgency techniques. Since Mobutu’s ouster, the Rwandan army and Kabila’s Congolese forces have been accused of the wholesale slaughter Hutu refugees. Last weekend, eight Rwandan soldiers were arrested for murdering civilians and looting their homes in the northwest part of the country — a spree in which as many as 1,000 were killed.
So, what we have here is the U.S. military involving itself directly in a form of ethnic cleansing or tribal warfare. To what end? Who authorized it? And why?
A few months ago, WorldNetDaily broke the story of how Kabila, a disciple of Communist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, had signed a $1 billion deal with an obscure mining firm based in — are you ready for this? — Hope, Arkansas. Was this U.S. military entanglement part of a master plan to secure privileged business interests in Africa? And who is behind this Arkansas mining company, America Mineral Fields, which stands to be the first major beneficiary of the fall of Mobutu?
The company’s agreement with Kabila calls for exclusive rights to explore and develop an area the size of Switzerland in southeastern Congo. The area is rich in zinc and cobalt.
The training of Rwandans is not even the whole story of U.S. involvement in the region. An earlier report in the Wall Street Journal quoted a South African pilot as saying he flew U.S. arms earmarked for Kabila’s forces to neighboring Burundi where he was greeted by a U.S. Embassy official.
In his Oxford days, Bill Clinton would have criticized such missions as little more than U.S. military imperialism serving only the interests of big business — and, for once, he would have been right. Today he presides as commander-in-chief over this kind of senseless slaughter without explanation or challenge.
I still don’t know if Fred Thompson is for real or not. I hope he is. And I hope his investigation gets to the bottom of how the U.S. government, with all its vast economic and military might, is being hijacked from the people to serve the interests of the privileged few.
Now that’s an investigation he could ride right to Pennsylvania Avenue.
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