Preventing Independent Action in the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) “is a country of tragedy and promise on a massive scale.” So begins the foreword to the Center for Preventive Action’s report “Congo: Securing Peace, Sustaining Progress” (Council on Foreign Relations, 2008). The report continues, that “the DRC is home to important tropical forests, vast hydroelectric potential, and resources ranging from diamonds to zinc.” Almost as an afterthought, it adds: “It is also home to an ongoing humanitarian disaster.” The solution to this “country’s social, economic, and security challenges,” readers are told, lie in the US government adopting two policies: “combating insecurity in the east and promoting sustainable development.”1) One should not be too surprised to discover that “important U.S. strategic interests are at stake.” Bearing this in mind, it is appropriate that John Bellamy Foster described the reports originators, the Center for Preventive Action, as being “devoted to overthrowing governments opposed by Washington by political means (or where this is not practicable, using political low intensity warfare to soften them up for military intervention).” (For further criticisms, see “The Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Preventive Action.”)

Fittingly, the author of this report, former USAID mission director for the Congo (2001-04) Anthony Gambino, provides a whitewash of the Congo’s recent history. He notes that since the Congo gained their independence from Belgium in 1960 their history has been “marked by periods of great instability and insecurity accompanied by grave violations of human rights,” but he forgets to mention the how the US facilitated these horrific abuses by assassinating their democratically elected leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961. This is not to say that Gambino is totally uncritical of foreign interventions in the region, as he notes how Mobutu Sese Seko, who “overthrew the elected government” with “heavy support from key Western allies, including the United States” came to power in 1965 and remained their till 1997 acting as a critical “ally of the West.” Yet despite the Congo being “endowed with vast lodes of important minerals, including copper, cobalt, cassiterite, columbite, tantalum, diamonds, gold, and uranium,” Gambino thinks that with the end of the Cold War, the West “lost interest in the Congo.” Evidently there is no more to the story then: the Cold War ends and US corporations are no longer interested in exploiting Africa!

According to Gambino, President’s Mobutu’s successor Laurent Kabila came to power with “large-scale assistance from Rwanda and its then ally Uganda.” Gambino says that at this time “no Western state supported Mobutu,” but he fails to mention that the West had not simply lost interest in the region. Instead, in 1996, with active US-support Kabila had been “plucked out of a bar in Dar es Salaam, where he was owner/manager, and installed as the Congolese figurehead of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL).” This help does not figure in Gambino’s recollection of events, as he considers that the United States only “chose to engage with Laurent Kabila’s government” once it had assumed power, “albeit without providing much in terms of foreign assistance.” He neglects to mention that in the West Kabila had been initially “cheered and canonized for ousting Mobutu” but later, as Keith Harmon Snow points out, he was “declared a ‘dictator’ because he steered Congo on an independent course.” However Gambino does recognize that once Kabila had rejected his foreign backers the situation “changed radically” and the United States “focused its engagement on two activities: helping broker a ceasefire arrangement and providing humanitarian relief.” Thereafter, apparently after “Joseph Kabila, his son, became president in 2001… the West developed an ever-clearer understanding of its role in assisting this process.”

It is not coincidental that Gambino’s report refers to the 5 million Congolese who “have died since 1998” — citing the International Rescue Committee as their source. This is because, as Keith Harmon Snow reminds us, the CIA-linked International Rescue Committee’s work in this area “considers only the period of 1998 to 2007, excluding the first phase of the war, the U.S.-backed overthrow of Zaire and coup d’etat against Mobutu Sese Seko, 1996-1998.” In the International Rescue Committee report — from which the 5 million deaths is derived — “not a word” is made “about the causes of the ongoing strife or the structural factors which have made this holocaust possible, and perpetuate it”; very much like the Center for Preventive Action’s own report. Many more than 5 million people died to enable the West to profit from the Congo’s resources, but for pragmatic reasons it is easier to only consider deaths from 1998 onwards to avoid unnecessary complications. Ignorance is profit.

Moving back to Gambino’s report we are informed that during Mobutu’s dictatorship, “the government existed as a structure for individual enrichment and patronage.” Gambino writes that to this day little has changed, and Congolese officials benefiting from this corruption have “shown little interest in fundamental change.” One might also add, although Gambino doesn’t, that the foreign owned corporations that have profitably operated in the Congo since the 1960s have benefited immensely from this corruption and have no intention of allowing their profitable situation to fundamentally change. But in Gambino’s mind, the West has been reluctant to profit from murderous wars in the Congo. In fact, he says corporations have been wary of investing there because of instability? This of course may be the case for most businesses, but there is no doubt that many Western owned mining corporations have reaped massive financial rewards from the Congo’s instability. Either way, now that the country has a government which is once again amenable to Western interests the time for “stability” has come – a situation that enhances capitalist exploitation, like for instance that seen in Brazil. Likewise in a similar way that formally ending apartheid in South Africa increased foreign profits, by improving stability in the Congo even more Western corporations will be able to grow as a result of environmentally minded destruction (read: sustainable development). Seen in this light, concern with the environment provides a useful fig leaf for economic exploitation, and Gambino writes that US diplomacy “can assist Congo in fostering an environment conducive for continued foreign investment to sustain economic growth.”

Given this economic interest it is appropriate that many of the members of the advisory committee assembled to supervise the production of Gambino’s report should have active financial interests in the “sustainable development” of the Congo. Most notably the committee includes W. Russell King who serves as senior vice president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. That said, most of other representatives on the advisory committee appear to have a commitment to the expansion of the US military-industrial complex and the concomitant multiplication of US investment opportunities. For example, advisory committee member Chester Crocker is the former director of African studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1976-80), former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1981-89), and former chair the imperialist US Institute of Peace (1992-2004); and he recently led the African Growth and Opportunity Act Coalition Inc that lobbied for the creation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an Act that was “created to expand US economic and strategic interests in Africa.” Similarly another advisory committee member is former US Ambassador to the Republic of Burkina Faso (2002-05), J. Anthony Holmes, who helped Burkina Faso accept the “benefits” of AGOA, and presently acts as the Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities for the US African Command.

Other obvious members of the military establishment who advised Gambino on his report include Joshua Marks, Ambassador Robert Oakley, and Carlton W. Fulford, Jr. — the latter whom previously served as the Deputy Commander in Chief of the US European Command, and is the former head of the National Defense University’s Africa Center. With regard to the backgrounds of the other two military-linked aforementioned advisers, Joshua Marks is a former faculty associate of the Africa Center, and is presently the Central Africa program officer at the infamous National Endowment for Democracy; while Robert Oakley is based at the National Defense University and is a member of the board of overseers of the International Rescue Committee.

It is also worth observing that National Endowment for Democracy board member, Howard Wolpe, sat in on Gambino’s advisory committee having formerly spent ten years serving as the chair of the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Moreover, Wolpe’s work has been widely celebrated by the free-market environmental organizations like the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. This is fitting given Gambino’s rhetorical commitment to the environment, which meant that the Center for Preventive Action’s advisory committee included one full-time member of the free-market environmental movement, Richard Carroll; who is the managing director for the World Wildlife Fund’s Congo Basin program. According to his WWF biographical note, “Richard considers the formation of the Congo Basin [Forest] Partnership [launched in 2003 by Colin Powell, was] the ‘fulfillment of a 20-year dream,’ or at least one of them.” (For a critique of both WWF’s pro-corporate environmentalism and of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, see “When Environmentalists Legitimize Plunder”).

Although ideologically speaking it is clear where the priorities of the Center for Preventive Action’s report lie, nevertheless they appear to be committed to well-informed strategizing which perhaps makes their work even more dangerous. Thus the reports advisory committee also includes Herbert Weiss, the author of one of the first in-depth examinations of the Congo in his book, Political Protest in the Congo: The Parti Solidane Africain During the Independence Struggle (Princeton University Press, 1967), which built upon his field research in the region since 1959. Although Professor Weiss continues to write about the Congo for conservative think tanks like the Hoover Institution, a newcomer to the field is Séverine Autesserre who completed her doctorate in 2006, and is publishing the forthcoming book The Trouble with the Congo. Local Violence and the Failure of International Peacebuilding (Cambridge University Press, June 2010). Her research is research is currently being funded by the US Institute of Peace.

Finally, pharmaceutical giant Merck was invited to place an employee (Kay Boulware-Miller) on the Gambino reports advisory committee. Merck has just the right type of experience to engage with such an elite project as Merck’s former head of international organization relations (until 2008), was Susan Crowley, an individual who is counted as a founder of the imperialist Business-Humanitarian Forum and who had served on advisory board of the Global Alliance for Women’s Health – a group’s whose recent treasurer was the former US Ambassador to the Congo, Kenneth Brown (1981-84), who happens to also be a recent board member of Anvil Mining which has mining interests in the Congo. Moreover in 2008, it is significant to note that notorious Israeli diamond mogul Dan Gertler had a 25 per cent stake in Anvil Mining. Although neither Crowley not Gertler were involved in the production of Gambino’s report, these connections do demonstrate the intimate involvement of US and Israeli elites in the Congo. However, given the direct involvement of Freeport-McMoRan with Gambino’s report the following section will briefly outline the current interests of foreign extractive corporations in the region by following a lead from Freeport-McMoRan recent activities in the Congo.

Freeport-McMoRan recently brought there way into the Congo when in 2007 they purchased Phelps Dodge Corporation enabling them to “gain rights to the Tenke Fungurume project in the Congo, one of the world’s largest known copper-cobalt deposits.” This is noteworthy because prior to their acquisition, Phelps Dodge’s CEO, J. Steven Whisler, had been, and still is, a board member of International Paper Company (the “largest forest products company in the world”). For those who are not aware, International Paper is currently harvesting Brazilian and Russian forests, and they are no doubt highly interested in the “sustainable management” of the Congo’s potential paper (I mean trees).2 I make this assumption because since 2003 American Enterprise Institute trustee John Faraci3 has managed International Paper’s operations while simultaneously serving as the chair of the logging front-group the American Forest and Paper Association; an association whose commitment to protecting the environment is more than belied by the fact that their president, Donna Harman, is a board member of the American Council for Capital Formation. Harman’s ties to the latter conservative think tank is intriguing as they apparent work to promote “strong capital formation, a balanced regulatory regime, and cost effective environmental policies”; that is, in plain language, environmental “protection” that does not inhibit economic growth. Other board members of this “conservation” outfit include the head of the National Association of Manufacturers, and the notorious former head of President Nixon’s US Environmental Protection Agency, William Ruckelshaus. One might add that the profitable conservation policies catalysed by the American Council for Capital Formation are epitomized by their board member, former US Senator Bill Archer (Republican, Texas), who until recently served as the chair of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation makes no secret of its commitment to free-market environmentalism, and their advisory council is host to only the largest advocates of green capitalism, these being the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society (see “The Philanthropic Roots of Corporate Environmentalism”). Individual advisers to the Caucus bring to the fore well-known democracy-manipulators like JPMorgan Chase’s executive vice president, Rick Lazio, and the former House Majority Leader, Dick Gephardt (Democrat, Missouri), who is the chair of the National Endowment for Democracy. Corporate sponsors of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation’s work include Honeywell, ExxonMobil, the American Forest and Paper Association — whose former CEO, Red Cavaney, has served as the head of the American Petroleum Institute (from 1997 until 2008) — and the WILD Foundation. Although the latter group is strictly speaking a not-for-profit corporation, when it comes to the environment they act in much the same way as their corporate counterparts; which explains why the WILD Foundation’s board member, David Barron, is the president of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

Although I have critiqued the WILD Foundation elsewhere, it is significant that until recently their board members included Francine Kansteiner, the wife of the former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Walter Kansteiner III. As Keith Harmon Snow points out, Walter Kansteiner III is “the son of a coltan trader” (a valuable mineral that can be found beneath the forests of the Congo) and is a board member of Moto Gold (which is “operating in [the] blood-drenched” Ituri province of the Congo). Thus in the context of this article it is appropriate that David Barron should have also played a key role in gathering support and momentum for the US-lead Congo Basin Forest Partnership.

Of course, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership is being advanced by free-market environmental groups with the aid of the American Forest and Paper Association and other logging trade groups like the Society of American Foresters. Here one might add that the latter front-group was previously headed (in 2006) by Marvin Brown, who is a board member of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (which counts John Faraci as a former board member). As one might guess this group is very interested in sustainable management of the Congo’s forests, and their former chair, John Luke, Jr., is a trustee of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, former chair of the National Association of Manufacturers, and former chair (now board member) of the American Forest and Paper Association. Luke in turn sits alongside Faraci and Ruckelshaus on the corporate council of The Conservation Fund, a group whose long-serving president, John Turner (1993-2001), happens to be a board member of the International Paper Company.

Here the story of corporate intrigue become even more sickening as the current president of The Conservation Fund, Larry Selzer, is the chair of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the vice president of the pro-corporate Natural Resources Council of America. However, the most interesting board member of The Conservation Fund is the world-renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle; because in addition to Earle being connected to numerous “big green” organizations, from 1999 until 2006 she was a board member of Kerr-McGee — an energy company that was involved in the exploration and production of oil and gas resources (and has now been acquired by Anadarko Petroleum).4 Notably, during her years of service at Kerr-McGee, the lead director of the company was William Bradford, a person who had until 2000 served as the chairman of the most influential corporate member of the military-industrial complex, Halliburton. (Halliburton’s former CEO, Dick Cheney, left the company in 2000 to become vice president of the United States.)

Finally one should observe that Patrick Moore, who sits on the board of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative serves on JPMorgan Chase’s national advisory board, and is a board member of Archer Daniels Midland (“one of the world’s largest processors of oilseeds, corn, and wheat”). Here at Archer Daniels Midland, he used to serve alongside the former Prime Minister of Canada (1984-1993), Brian Mulroney, who is a board member of The Blackstone Group, and who, until last year, was a board member of the leading international gold mining company, Barrick Gold. For a detailed review of Barrick Gold’s activities in the Congo, see “Mining in the Ituri Province of the Congo-A Contemporary Profile.” Of particular interest here are the direct connections that Barrick Gold has to the Council on Foreign Relations through current and former board members, Howard Baker Jr., Gustavos Cisneros, William Cohen, and Vernon Jordan Jr., Edward Ney, and former CIA Director Richard Helms. One might also point out Barrick Gold’s connection to the king-pin of “sustainable development,” Maurice Strong, as Paul Melnuk, the former CEO of Barrick Gold, is currently a board member of Strong’s old haunting ground, Petro-Canada. Little wonder that the Center for Preventive Action’s report suggests that the U.S. government should adopt two policies in the Congo: “combating insecurity in the east and promoting sustainable development.”

As this article has demonstrated the Center for Preventive Action provides a useful tool for capitalist elites to enhance the efficient exploitation of foreign countries (in this case the Congo). In the light of this obvious statement it is perhaps controversial to point out that Council on Foreign Relations board member, Peter Ackerman, currently serves on the Center’s advisory board. This is controversial because Ackeman is the founder and primary funder of an organization called the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, a group that “facilitate[s] the activity of civilian-based, nonviolent movements.” Therefore, in the light of the fact that so many progressive activists have affiliated themselves with the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, one might only hope that they reevaluate their commitment in the light of the information provided in this article.

  1. Richard Haass from foreword to Gambino, Congo: Securing Peace, Sustaining Progress, p.vii. Although the report was sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, Gambino writes that “the publication was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.” (p.x []
  2. Archie Dunham who had been a board member of Phelps Dodge from 1998 until 2007, was president of Conoco (since 1996), and after their merger acted as the chair of ConocoPhillips (2002-04). Longstanding head of Phelps Dodge, Douglas Yearley, served as a board member of Lockheed Martin since 1995 until his death in 2007; and likewise, the former chairman of Lockheed Martin, Norman Augustine, is a board member of ConocoPhillips. Clearly the interconnections between mining, oil, and military contractors is intimate to the say the least. []
  3. In addition, John Faraci is a board member of the major US defense contractor, United Technologies Corporation: two other notable board members of this corporation are the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Myers (who is also a board member of Northrop Grumman), and Harold McGraw III (who is also a board member of ConocoPhillips). On the environmental front, Faraci is a board member of the National Park Foundation, a group that was founded in 1967 with an initial $1 million contribution from Laurance Rockefeller. (For more on Rockefeller’s problematic environmental pedigree, see “Laurance Rockefeller and Capitalist Conservation.”) []
  4. Chairman emeritus of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Robert Allison, Jr., is currently a board member of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. []

Michael Barker is an independent researcher based in the UK. Read other articles by Michael, or visit Michael's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. dan e said on May 11th, 2010 at 3:38pm #

    Excellent article, great research. Here’s a link to a GR piece loaded with more solid info: ” New Colonialism: Pentagon Carves Africa Into Military Zones” By Rick Rozoff
    URL of this article: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19007
    Global Research, May 5, 2010
    Stop NATO
    Last year the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), General William Ward, said the Pentagon had military partnerships with 35 of the continent’s 53 nations, “representing U.S. relationships that span the continent.” [1] That number has increased in the interim.

    As the first overseas regional military command set up by Washington in this century, the first since the end of the Cold War, and the first in 25 years, the ///SNIP
    Back in the day, seventies, some of us spent time creating large charts hoping to display overlapping board memberships & family connections in an easily digested format, partly for the benefit of whoever was interested, but mostly to help us comprehend the overwhelming information we had discovered.

    I’m delighted to see Dr Barker focussing on this kind of connections. Hope to see more, especially about “Zionism as Capital” running amok in Africa.

  2. John Andrews said on May 12th, 2010 at 12:47am #

    Excellent piece Michael. Thank you.

  3. Fkamunga said on May 18th, 2010 at 4:42am #

    Dear Mr. Barker,
    Thank you so much for your expression of interest in the issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I write to you from Kinshasa where I work as a human rights Director for Droits Humains Sans Frontières.

    As I’m sure you are aware, there are many blogs actually exposing the illicit exploitation of resources in the DRC. What surprises me about many of them, and even some very active international campaigns, is that many individuals and groups offer quite unbelievable, and grossly exaggerated statements about the circumstances here without looking at the reality on the ground. For many people like yourself, it is easy to analyze from afar without living here and experiencing the issues that the people of Kinshasa, Kisangani, Bukavu, Goma, Lubumbashi or Boma must face each and every day. Many of the organizations and people you point to as responsible and complicit for the many problems in my country seem out of place. I must be honest with you. When we begin to put the blame on individuals sitting in New York or Washington, DC, or even in Belgium or China, it diminishes the responsibility that Congolese themselves have to change our own society and rid ourselves of corrupt leaders and equally corrupt global partners.
    In so many ways, the problems that we face in my country begin with cruelty, corruption and greed – first from our colonial masters, and later through our post-colonial transitions and turmoil. But Congolese people are survivors. We are admired by all other African countries for our music, our wood work, our traditional food, our creative spirit, our beautiful women, and our lush environment and rich soil. Congolese people are powerful and smart, and in the past, we have acted together, even to resist rebel groups here in Kinshasa.

    You state that today, 5 million Congolese have died to enable the West to profit from the Congo’s resources. This may be true, but let us also recognize that the East, North and South profits as well. We face many different “interested” governments in my country, many with the pretense to rebuild and develop, but with the final goal of taking a piece of our wealth. This posting would be too long if I were to begin to name each country – one must simply sit at the airport in Kinshasa to witness the diverse nationalities that enter the decrepit air terminal to do business in different parts of the country. My country is rich in resources, and probably everyone that owns a cell phone or uses a laptop is touching a piece of my soil. So, in many ways, each and every one of us is complicit.

    Nevertheless, for me it does not make sense to point the finger at all the countries, or at cell phone owners or bloggers like you. The shift must be made to point to the Congolese people ourselves. Not enough of us have not stood up to our governments to hold them responsible for the partnerships they create in order to line their own pockets. Blaming and naming any one person or organization from the West , notably the United States, simply continues to rob the Congolese of their own responsibility, and their own power, while it empowers the United States. This blame-game does not help us to build the capacity of common Congolese citizens to take responsibility and once more resist oppression. It is an easy escape to point at someone else across the ocean, claim it is their fault, and then continue to live in misery or accept the status quo. My people have the power and spirit to rise up against all our injustices, and we have done so in the past. But comfort in the status quo and the expectation that the international community will save us all, this has created a form of social paralysis. Such paralysis runs against our culture and traditions.

    It is possible that you may also accuse me in your next blog of being part of the conspiracy you have laid out, as I have supported the NED through my role with the Africa Democracy Forum. I have also attended conferences and workshops with some of the organizations you mention above. But despite any conspiracies, in the end, we Congolese are on our own. Interested organizations and supporters drop by my city. Western bloggers write about the injustices we face. International supporters come and go. And it is the Congolese people themselves who must rise up and be creative in the fight against violence by rebel groups, government corruption, gender-based abuse, and extraction of our resources by foreign governments and corporations.

    The many conspiracies that people write about on the history and current situation of Democratic Republic of Congo only strengthens my belief that what the Congolese people desperately need is the knowledge and understanding of how civilian-based nonviolent movements have succeeded. Part of my work is committed to such education. Why? Because as long as we continue to wait for our supporters to save us, our power and capacity to rise up in one voice, using nonviolent means, will not be realized. And this kind of people’s power is worth much more than any minerals being extracted from Congo today.

    Once again thank you very much for your contribution.

    Franck KAMUNGA

  4. MichaelJBarker said on May 18th, 2010 at 8:05am #

    Franck you write: “Many of the organizations and people you point to as responsible and complicit for the many problems in my country seem out of place.” I assume that you are referring to the US government’s primary coordinating agent for imperialism, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); as in your note you point out that you “have supported the NED through my role with the Africa Democracy Forum.” I assure you that this organization is not out of place in this article, but I would be interested to hear exactly why you think it is.

    Given that until recently you worked as the Coordinator for the Africa Democracy Forum, which is a regional network of the NED’s World Movement for Democracy, it is ironic that you write that “Congolese people themselves who must rise up” against injustice. I say this because this is precisely what the NED and its well-funded and politically connected democracy-manipulating cohorts do not want.

    For a summary of my criticisms of the NED, see “Co-opting Intellectual Aggressors: The ‘Progressive’ Face of the CIA.” http://www.swans.com/library/art14/barker08.html

    By its own admission the NED carries out work that used to be carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency — not the murders mind, just the co-option of progressive social movements and “intellectuals.” If you truly believed, like I do, that it is the “Congolese people themselves who must rise up” against injustice, then I would suggest that you stop cooperating with the very elites who profitably perpetrated the genocidal slaughter in your own country. The history of this onslaught is well documented in Edward Herman and David Peterson’s excellent book The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press, 2010).

    Furthermore, given the close working relationship you have with the NED’s Michael McFaul, I was wondering how this relates to your “belief that what the Congolese people desperately need is the knowledge and understanding of how civilian-based nonviolent movements have succeeded.” I can only assume that this comment was some form of joke which I didn’t understand. You do realize what McFaul stands for don’t you?

    If not, then please take heed of what Muhammad Idrees Ahmad wrote in 2008 for Dissident Voice: “With ties to the arms industry and the neoconservative wing of the Israel lobby, the Henry Jackson Society seems to be assuming the role that the Committee on Present Danger played in the United States. Its Israel-centric worldview, as exhibited by its roster of speakers, predisposes it towards perpetual conflict.” http://dissidentvoice.org/2008/06/fortress-britain/

    Until recently Michael McFaul was an international patron of the Henry Jackson Society, serving alongside the former head of the CIA, R. James Woolsey, the former American Assistant Secretary of Defense, Richard Perle, and the Editor of The Weekly Standard, William Kristal (amongst others of a similar political hue).

    You note that: “It is possible that you may also accuse me in your next blog of being part of the conspiracy you have laid out…” I can only respond by saying that this seems like a good idea, but I would be happy to not write such an article. In this regard it would be great if you could demonstrate how your activities promote the interests of the Congolose people and not imperial elites (whether from the West, “the East, North and South”).

    I am sorry that I cannot “thank you very much for your contribution” as you did for me, but hopefully this will change when you have persuaded me of the error of my ways.

    Michael Barker

  5. Fkamunga said on May 20th, 2010 at 3:54am #

    Thanks Michael for your reply to my last comments on your article . I beleive most of the informations and details you are providing are from the news you get from Washington, but I would have loved to know if you’ve got a time to come to the D R C or any other African Countries and see the tremendous work these Organisations you are accusing have accomplished. I’m not serving western or any external interest because I beleive Congo is bigger then these interests.

    Please let me confess you that I’ve worked for African Democracy Forum after serving as Legal Adviser to the D R C Electoral Commission and more than 10 years in congolese civil society as Human Rights and Democracy defender. NED has contributed very significantly on strengthening the democratic process in this country by providing substantial support to CSOs and alligning to the local priorities and not bringing in any kind political ideology of US imperialism . Perhaps if you can provide some evidence, this will halp me understand your opinion on this matter.

    I might not be well undertood if I also don’t mention the great contribution of the ICNC in developing and educating common african citizens including congolese on nonviolence culture, peace and harmonious cohabitation after several years of armed conflicts. I do respect the freedom of expression and opinion on the situation in my country, but I just wish you could get some time to watch it from the groung in Congo and from this far, you might get the wrong information.

    For having been a Stanford Fellow on Democracy, Development and Rule of Law, I’ve met Prof MacFaull and discussed several issues on the conflicts in the DRC. The last time we met was in Kiev for the WMD General Assemby and I beleive he is just the opposit of what you are describing.

    I can not ignore the external responsability in Mining business and armed conflicts in the DRC because several reports including the UN Experts Special Report exist and are enough explicit. However, I stick on what I beleive in because these are great values for me and the congolese society. Before pointing the finger to any foreigners of beiong responsable of our situation, we need to cleen our own house. Lack of political will, Good Governance, corruption, Rule of Law etc, thse the most important issues to adress internally and those helping us to adress them are very welcome.

    Once again thank you very much and best regards

    Franck

  6. MichaelJBarker said on May 20th, 2010 at 6:52am #

    Michael McFaul may well be a nice man and a useful mentor for people intent on helping imperial elites “democratize” Africa. McFaul however is a key promoter and legitimizer of US-led imperialism which is why — amongst his numerous “democratic” duties — he serves as special assistant to President Obama for National Security Affairs and acts as a senior director at the National Security Council.

    Given his position of preeminence it should come as no surprise that McFaul fails to delve into the inherent contradictions between capitalism and democracy. For example, writing in 2007 with Francis Fukuyama, he noted how “democracies tend to provide more stable physical and economic welfare for their people than do autocracies.” What Fukuyama and McFaul deliberately neglect to mention is that this “stability” is premised on the exploitation of distant others, that is, on the stability of imperialism. Thus they see no irony in adding that: “For every autocracy, such as China, producing fantastic growth, there is an autocracy, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo under Mobuto, producing negative growth.” (p.33) Of course negative growth for some, helps enable positive growth for others.

    Likewise, in a talk McFaul gave in 2007, he pointed out how in democracies “you don’t get genocides, you also don’t get famines. These things simply do not happen in democracies.” Again what he “neglects” to mention is that genocides do however happen elsewhere, especially in countries of geostrategic interest to imperial powers, see “Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Propaganda System.” http://www.monthlyreview.org/100501herman-peterson.php

    McFaul is in fact does not try to hide from the geostrategic benefits of “promoting democracy,” and openly talks up the financial benefits of empire. Thus in the same talk he says that “when you open up a society through political liberalization that usually leads to greater trade and foreign investment, and as the largest economy in the world we [the United States] benefit from these kinds of openings.” No doubt enabling the imperial exploitation of the Congo will bring large financial compensation to powerful elites, much like the “trillion dollar peace dividend [that arose] from the collapse of communism” for the US economy (McFaul’s words).

    Now given that you became acquainted with McFaul when you were invited in 2007 to his Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (Stanford University) as a Draper Hills Summer Fellow, I think it is useful to refer to Edward Berman’s book The Influence of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations on American Foreign Policy: The Ideology of Philanthropy (State University of New York Press, 1983). Berman explains in detail how fellowships — like the one you accepted and others that are regularly organized by the National Endowment for Democracy — play an integral role in laying the groundwork for the imperial penetration of foreign countries. Berman writes:

    “The provision of fellowships enabling foreign students to study in the United States has long been an integral part of the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundation programs [which worked hand-in-hand with the US government's foreign policy establishment]. The Afro-Anglo-American program was a latter-day variant on earlier models. Foundation officials early recognized the importance of these programs in socializing future African, Asian, and Latin American leaders in ways that would make them sympathetic to the interests of the United States and her allies. Such programs provide effective, but generally unrecognized, mechanisms to further the foundations’ cultural hegemony. This is accomplished when the foundations ask the outside agencies or participating universities to assume administrative responsibility for the funded program. This arrangement deflects attention from the role of the foundations themselves and enables their personnel to retain an air of disinterested concern over the programs’ directions, while at the same time denying any influence. The influence is no less real for being indirect, however, for the foundations long ago devised methods whereby students benefiting from their fellowships studied certain subjects at universities whose faculties could be counted on, minimally, to provide the ‘correct’ perspectives.” (p.93)

    I guess this elite networking helps explain why Michael McFaul presently serves with you on the board of directors of Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, as do two other people who were invited on your Draper Hills Summer Fellowship program (Kate Sam-Ngbor from Nigeria, and Garrett J. Cummeh III from Liberia).

    I also checked out the schedule for your fellowship program (which is now online), and was not surprised to see that Peter Ackerman’s International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) had helped participants learn “how democratic transitions occur.” The ICNC’s propaganda spiel clearly worked wonders on you, as you acknowledge the “great contribution of the ICNC in developing and educating common african citizens including congolese on nonviolence culture, peace and harmonious cohabitation after several years of armed conflicts.”

    For my detailed criticisms of the ICNC, see “Failure Of Progressive Thought.” http://swans.com/library/art15/barker38.html

  7. Fkamunga said on May 21st, 2010 at 4:25am #

    Mr. Barker,

    I had expected to get from you more eveidence from the peple and institutions you’ve been accusing,but unfortunately, I’m getting more allegations!
    With all due respect, you are a professional blogger who sits in the U.K. with very little actual experience, let alone any international or Africa experience. I find it amazing that you judge me, my colleagues from Liberia and Nigeria, and those who we consider to be educators and friends. One can consider you to be part of an elite group of professional students turned bloggers, who then criticize from afar anything that looks like your version of imperialism without actually having experienced conflict, war, poverty, racism, or any other form of hardship that is daily occurrence in my continent. This is a form of elitism. You had the luxury of “rejecting” your PhD thesis, while many in Congo cannot ever make such a choice.

    May I ask you a small question to know what you’ve ever done as a person or the institutions you’ve been working for, to improve the situation in Congo or build the capacity of these common congolese to take the leadership in adressing their country’s issues. It would have been helpful for many people accessing your blogg to share your own experiences in any african country you’ve visited or assisted in adressing issues like armed conflicts, poverty, dictatorship, transitional Justice etc!, then just accusing those who dedicate their time; limited ressources and fly far away from their families and beloved ones, just to help and provide their contribution to make the change possible in our countries. ITS JUST NOT FAIR from you.

    I know how easy it can be to blogg and make coments, poinitng fingers from far away, but the most important for us as Africans or Congolese, is not your coments but what you can exactly do to improve the situation on the ground and you seem not to be the right person for this.
    I’m just sorry I can’t reply to the attacks against me and the two other colleagues working hardly on daily basis to take care of Millions of people in need, I easily understand the lack of experiences in African and on African issues.Having got these Fellowships from a pool of over 600 applications for 20 places, I think we deserve a little consideration from your side..

    You might be aware that Mike McFaul is working for the most liberal administration in U.S. history, and for the first African-American president. Will you still confirm us that this choice is based on imperialism!

    I wish you the best in your democracy-manipulation blogging business. In the meantime, I will work on the human rights issues in my country and will work toward participatory democracy here in Congo and the rest of Africa. My internet charges here are far more than what you pay, I’m sure, so I must leave you.
    You are most welcomed to come visit my country at any time, and I will host you. But I promise you that you will find life as blogger in Congo far less comfortable. This may be the sort of experience that could launch you to paid work status, as most people value real life experience rather than chair-based analysis. I would be happy to help.
    Good day,
    Franck