Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo
(S/2002/1146, October, 2002)
Paul Kagame: “Our Kind of Guy” by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
Among the many other UN reports on the DRC, the second in the series by the
UN Panel of Experts on the “Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other
Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo” (S/2002/1146,
October, 2002) also stands out. The UN Panel estimated that by September 2002,
some 3.5 million excess deaths had occurred in the five eastern provinces as “a
direct result of the occupation of the DRC by Rwanda and Uganda” (para. 96).
This report also rejected the Kagame regime's rationale that its armed forces'
continued presence in the eastern DRC was needed to defend Rwanda against
hostile Hutu forces terrorizing the border region and threatening to invade it;
instead, the "real long-term purpose is…to 'secure property'," the UN countered
(para. 66). But though this 2002 report was not ordered
suppressed the way the 1994 Gersony report was, it was nevertheless ignored in
the Western media, despite the fact that 3.5 million deaths greatly exceeds the
highest toll attributed to the "Rwanda genocide” of 1994.
This suppression was surely a result of the fact that Kagame is a U.S. client, whose deadly efforts in the DRC were actually in line with the U.S. policy of opening up the country to U.S. and other Western mining and business interests. In fact, in answering questions on this leaked report, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley admitted that “We do have a relationship with Rwanda apart from the tragic history of genocide and other issues in the 1990s. Rwanda has played a constructive role in the region recently. It has played an important role in a variety of UN missions. It is in our interest to help to professionalize military forces. And we work hard on that in various parts of the world. So we have engaged Rwanda.” Crowley and company hadn’t gotten around to studying that draft UN report at the time. But then, on the other hand, there were those earlier UN reports of Kagame’s mass killings of civilians in both Rwanda and the DRC, which led to no discernible U.S. or UN response (except, as noted, suppression). Could it be that these were the acceptable responses of those “professionalized military forces,” as they have been to the performance of the professionalized forces of Suharto and the U.S.-trained Latin American troops fresh out of the School of the Americas? Could it be that these horrors were also “dividends” and a new "gleam of light”—in Africa?
It is interesting to note that the first New York Times article on the draft UN report, by Howard French, refers to the difficulty encountered in getting this new report out—it was in fact leaked first to Le Monde in France by insiders who were concerned that its really critical parts might be excised before its release. The UN had already felt it necessary to show the draft to the Kagame government for comments, and that government’s denunciation of this “outrageous” document was spelled out in a full paragraph in the NYT article. As French explained it, there were “difficulties over seven months” in getting the report released over the objections of a government “which has long enjoyed the strong diplomatic support from the United States and Britain.”