8:57 p.m. November 30, 2012

Congo: A Tutsi Empire, Interrupted Once Again By Do-Gooders

Congo. Nobody knows much about it, because nobody wants to. It’s been in the news lately, with a new movement called M23 sweeping through eastern Congo, taking the provincial capital of Goma, and then promising to withdraw—the kind of story you read, then drop, because you know it’ll never make any sense to you. The most anyone’ll say is “Durn shame, all those dead people. It’s some tribal thing, right?”

Well, it’s a safe bet that this killing is tribal, because that’s what war is: tribal killing. When we call African killings “tribal,” what we really mean is that we don’t get it, the tribal differences seem ridiculous to us—in other words, they all look alike. But when you’re inside a tribal division, it’s different. If Romney drove through my old neighborhood in Bakersfield, he’d take one look and say “trash,” but when you lived in that neighborhood, there were blocks that were like kryptonite to you and others where you were safe, houses that were like Abode of Evil and others that were Good Country People.

Even when we say a war isn’t tribal, it almost always is. Take the US Civil War, “brother against brother.” Except it wasn’t brother against brother very often. It was two very different tribes, Yankee and Dixie—different religions, different economies, different ethnic groups. Tribal all the way. So yeah, it’s tribal in Congo, but no more than most other wars. That’s not what’s made the killing drag on and on like this.

The real bad guys in the Congo are what most people call the good guys, the meddling fools like Bono and the UN and all those NGOs and “International Peacekeeping Missions.” Those guys stopped a decisive war of conquest dead in its tracks. And yeah, that is a bad thing. A very bad thing. If they hadn’t stopped the natural course of the war, Central Africa would be a single state, maybe not as dead calm as an American suburb but as peaceful as, say, any region of the Roman or Mongol Empires—and remember, under the Mongols, travelers could ride from Tbilisi to Baikal without fear of robbery.

To show you what I mean, imagine that there’d been a United Nations, a lot of NGOs, and a noisy meddlesome “international community” to barge in when we were starting our Civil War in 1861. How would the Civil War have ended? Simple: it wouldn’t have. The “peacekeepers” would have intervened exactly when one side was starting to win—say, the summer of 1863—to freeze the two sides in position, “halt the killing,” and encourage a stalemate that left everything up in the air.

I can almost see the headlines and the photos that would hit the media if Sherman had started out on his march through Georgia in our time: “Refugees Flee Blue Advance,” “Thousands Starving,” and plenty of pictures of skinny towhead Dixie kids looking scared, with pillars of smoke from burning barns in the background.

And the “peacekeepers”—say, England and France at that time—would’ve been just plain overjoyed to step in and freeze the war, keep it festering for generations. They’d never have to worry about US competition again, because a war that gets stopped before it can settle anything always—always, always, always—devolves into the nastiest kind of bushwhacker war, “bush war” for short. And we’d still be fighting that kind of war, the kind we saw in Kansas just before Fort Sumter, with Yanks and Rebs sneaking around to wipe out the nearest enemy village before the international community could broker a local, temporary deal. There’d be “peacekeepers” all along the Mason-Dixon line, all through the mixed-up border zones like Kansas and Missouri, and for good measure a whole mushroom crop of blue-helmet outposts monitoring every Anglo vs. Injun flashpoint in the Far West. We’d be the most miserable, bloodsoaked, underdeveloped bastards in the history of the world—just like Central Africa is now. And the peacekeepers, all those well-meaning French and English dudes, would not only get to feel good about their humanitarian work, they could rest easy knowing they’d knocked a potential economic competitor out of the running for centuries to come.

The peacekeepers in Central Africa have done exactly that: kept the whole region scared, bloody, confused and dirt-poor by preventing the victory of the tribe that was all set to forge a new empire: The Tutsi.

The Tutsi are the one group in Central Africa that has the organization, the intelligence, the military spirit. If it hadn’t been for the parasite peacekeepers, all of Central Africa would now be The Tutsi Empire, and everybody there would be a lot better off.

Every time the Tutsi have had a chance to show their power, they’ve rolled unstoppably across the crazy borders the Europeans installed at the Berlin Conference in 1885. One reason the Congo Basin is such a mess, such easy pickings for a well-organized group like the Tutsi, is that Congo has the nastiest recent history of any country on the planet. The only reason you don’t hear much about that is that, frankly, most people who write books don’t much care about Central Africa, so they don’t bother telling you that Congo used to be run as one huge slave plantation under King Leopold of Belgium, whose overseers had some bad habits like chopping off the arms of natives who didn’t fill their rubber-tapping quota. It wasn’t even a Belgian colony—it was Leopold’s personal property, and he was greedy even by Victorian Euro standards. Nobody knows—you notice how often I have to use that phrase talking about Congo?—nobody knows exactly how many Congolese died in the Belgian era, but some say it topped ten million. Congo ended up in the hands of Mobutu, one of the nastiest of African big men, and kept doing what it always did: making life Hell on earth for the locals while earning huge profits for the European mining companies.

When you get weakness and chaos next door to order and power, something’s gotta give—or at least it was that way through all human history up to the arrival of Bono & co. The power in Central Africa was the Tutsi, watching from the high country to the east of Congo in Burundi and Rwanda. The Tutsi came down to the lakes sometime around 1400, cattle-raising people who were good at war. They enslaved the Hutu, who’d come a little earlier and enslaved the Twa, the pygmies. So there was a straightforward three-tier system in the lake region: Tutsi on top, Hutu under them, and the Twa hiding out in the bush. The Tutsi, like all conquerors, had a great little origin myth to explain how this happened: One of their gods gave his three sons a gourd of milk apiece and told them to watch it overnight. The poor little Twa son gulped the milk right down—no impulse control, them pygmies—and was banished to the forest. The Hutu, an underachiever, fell asleep instead of watching over the milk. But the Tutsi son stood guard over the milk all night and was rewarded by being put in charge by his God-dad. Kinda like the Three Bears story only without a Goldilocks.

What that story really told was that the Tutsi had the military organization to rule the place. They had a centralized war-chief/king operation that rolled right over the Hutu. The Twa, the only people who had any claim to be the real natives of the place, didn’t even count, weren’t fighters at all. That’s because they were hunter-gatherer types, whereas the Hutu were farmers and the Tutsi livestock breeders. That’s a truism of tribal war: hunter-gatherers can never fight farmers or pastoralists; they just don’t breed the numbers or the concentration to make war effectively.

The Tutsi and Hutu were both big, powerful groups, evenly matched: the Hutu had numbers on their side—they were about 90% of the population of Rwanda/Burundi—and the Tutsi had the military tradition and organization. The two tribes were the last men standing in Central Africa; the Congo Basin to their west was a mess, full of small, disorganized tribes who were still trying to recover from Leopold’s monster plantation era.

So the Tutsi and Hutu traded massacres in Rwanda and Burundi until 1994, when what most people think of as “Rwanda” happened: The Hutu, who had built a good genocidal organization in Rwanda, called on their people to kill the Tutsi “cockroaches.” The Hutu weren’t warriors, but they were very obedient, orderly farmers, and the Tutsi were dispersed and disarmed. So the Hutu answered the call and managed to chop and burn 800,000 people to death in a few months. It’s not easy to kill that many people, that fast, with nothing but pangas and fire, but the Hutu went at it like the good little workers they always have been. It’s always that way: the best genocidaires, as the French call ’em, are never the big loud macho tribes, always the polite, educated, orderly ones. The Hutu got the call to kill and rape and steal, and they did. They still don’t know what they did wrong; most of the few Hutu who ever got called to account said they were just doing what the Radio, “Radio Thousand Hills,” told them to do. It’s a myth, by the way, that people have this thing called a “conscience” or that they suffer from stress, etc., after a massacre. Try reading Jean Hatzfeld's book, Machete Season, and you’ll see the main thing the Hutu genocidaires feel is regret that they have to answer to a court now and then. The whole notion of guilt doesn’t cross their minds.

And what were the do-gooders doing all this time? Not a damn thing. Lemme repeat that: Nothing. The French were in tight with the Hutu, and the NGOs did what they usually do when the real killing comes down: flee home so they can write books about how traumatized they were by “the terrible sights we saw,” etc.

Nothing. That’s what the international community did for the Tutsis. So they fell back on the old ways: they went to war. And they’re very, very good at it. So good that their ad hoc army, the RPF, scattered the Hutu militias like billiard balls and retook Rwanda as fast as they could advance.

The Rwandan death squads fled west and hid out in the forests of eastern Congo, where all of a sudden—and this is very possibly the most sickening moment in recent world history—the same international community that did shit while the Tutsi were being wiped out went all out to help the poor “refugees”—that is, the death squads. I’ve seen this pattern before, in Cambodia. While the Khmer Rouge was slaughtering a million Cambodians, nobody did shit. But when the Vietnamese Army drove them west into Thailand, the international community couldn’t do enough for the poor “displaced” maniacs. According to Nic Dunlop’s great book, The Lost Executioner: A Story of the Khmer Rouge, the NGOs and do-gooders were spending 160 times as much on the average Khmer Rouge “refugee” as they were on their surviving victims.

The reason was simple: China, Europe, Japan and the US all wanted the Khmer Rouge to stick around and hassle the Vietnamese, so they bought cushy SUVs and villas for every kerchief-wearing KR killer in the camps. The Vietnamese were a problem, uppity and dangerous; the fact that their army had just saved the Cambodian people from three years of pure Hell on earth didn’t matter any more than the fact that the Vietnamese were the natural rulers of SE Asia.

That’s exactly the pattern you see now in Congo: the Tutsi, the natural rulers, are hated and demonized by every do-gooding reporter because it’s in everybody’s interest for Central Africa to stay the way it is: Miserable, bloody, and profitable. So the West, the NGOs, everybody rushes help to the genocidaires in the Hutu militia camps and tsk-tsks at the Tutsi for even thinking about taking unilateral military action to end the attempted genocide of their people. It really is the sickest thing I’ve seen in recent war, and it amazes me nobody sees it.

Naturally, the Hutu militias, with a nice reliable supply line running straight from Bono’s pantry to their camps in eastern Congo, went back to doing what they did best: massacring Tutsi, this time in quick hit-and-run, or rather chop-rape-and-run raids into Rwanda. They never fought battles against the Tutsi; they don’t do battles. They do massacres.

In 1996 the Tutsi got sick of it and pushed into eastern Congo to clear out the militias, under a sleazy Congolese front man named Laurent Kabila. And what happened then shocked even the Tutsi: there was nothing to stop them. Like Sherman said about the South, “once you pierce the shell it’s hollow, all hollow inside” — except in Congo there wasn’t even a shell. The Hutu militias fled to the bush, and Kabila, to his own amazement, saw his fat ass installed as ruler of Congo in Kinshasa in May, 1997.

Why don’t people see the incredible heroic magnificence of it? A tiny Tutsi army first pushes out the filth who are hacking their women and kids to death with pangas (machetes), starts marching west to root them out, and finds everybody running away from them—because they’re the only people in Central Africa actually willing to fight armed opponents, as opposed to killing villagers—and this little Tutsi army just rolls on till it winds up in triumph a thousand miles due west in Kinshasa. That’s a thousand damn miles of the thickest bush on the planet, a thousand miles of hostile tribes, a thousand miles of malaria and ambushes. It’s incredible, the greatest military achievement since the ten thousand hacked their way to the coast. The only reason I can guess that nobody worships these magnificent Tutsi warriors is that they don’t consider Africans human, as if nothing in Africa can ever be glorious, just pitiful or regrettable. The weak point in the new Tutsi hegemony over Central Africa was Kabila himself, a nasty dude and weak with it. As soon as he sat his big ass in the Presidential throne in Kinshasa he started doing everything he could do get rid of the Tutsi who’d put him in power, including collaboration with the Hutu militias scattered through Eastern Congo. In August 1998 he ordered all Rwandan (read: Tutsi) advisors to leave Congo, playing on local resentment of the tall snotty foreigner soldiers among Congolese.

The Banyamulenge, Tutsi living in Eastern Congo, knew what this all meant: Kabila had betrayed them and was planning a second try at genocide, this time targeting all Tutsi in Congo.

The Tutsi reacted with the same brilliance you see in every campaign they’ve undertaken. Tutsi officers who’d been in Kabila’s army staged some fantastic commando operations. James Kabarebe, the Tutsi officer who’d been fired by Kabila as Chief of Staff, led a hijack operation that flew three planes to the coast, where the garrisons joined him. At the same time, the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) in Eastern Congo mutinied and seized Goma. If we were living at any time before 1945, that would’ve been it: Central Africa would’ve become The Tutsi Empire once and for all.

But we’re living in a very nasty, new era, with a layer of pious crap like cheap Dulux over the same old greedy players who chopped Africa up in 1885. The NGOs, the Europeans, the Chinese, the Americans like Congo the way it is: Hell on earth, with no rule, no organization, no government. They have plans for Congo, especially the metal deposits in Eastern Congo, and the last thing they need is a stable, prosperous Tutsi Empire, even if that’d be by far the best outcome for the actual Africans.

So, with a lot of backdoor money from the West, every African country within range sent their lousy but heavily-armed troops to Congo, where they did their usual job of looting and ducking combat. The Tutsi, under pressure from Zimbabwe, Uganda and other champions of human rights, lost their unity and divided into factions.

Faction fights are messy, but they breed great leaders sometimes, and that’s what happened in Congo. Out of the fighting the Tutsi found a new leader, Laurent Nkunda, the greatest military leader in recent history. I wrote an article giving him his creds, and got called “contrarian” for it, because naturally all the NGOs, do-gooders, mining companies, and mutual funds hate him.

For a few years, Nkunda looked like the leader who would bring the Tutsi to their natural role as the power giving Central Africa the chance of a real peace for once. He failed, and the sad thing is he still doesn’t understand why. He’s living in the pre-1945 world, where any people who went through what the Tutsi have been through, then came out of it fighting, and winning, would be the heroes of the world. It works if you’re an Israeli, but somehow it doesn’t work if you’re a Tutsi. So Nkunda became the big villain, and he’s rotting in house arrest now.

But the stubborn fact is, the Tutsi are the only military power around, so they keep coming back in new incarnations like their latest, M23. M23 is another Tutsi military group born out of frustration that Goma and Eastern Congo still belong to the weak, vicious and treacherous Hutu militias and their Congolese collaborators. So this week the Tutsi in M23 rolled west one more time, like they were trying to make the point for the very slow learners out there: Hey, we’re the natural power here, and we’re also the victims of genocide, not the genocidaires… so why, exactly, are we the bad guys?

The answer to that is so sick I hate even thinking about it. It’s basically a two-tiered evil, a new, sanctimonious kind of evil, with fucking Bono doing the soundtrack for the same old mining companies, especially the Chinese, the new power in Africa. The Chinese already run huge chunks of Africa, and the last thing Nkunda—one of the few real heroes, great men, in this world—warned about was the Chinese buying off all the Congolese politicians for access to the rare earths mined in Eastern Congo.

Poor General Nkunda will never get it. It’s not easy for a country boy like him to realize that the real powers—always changing, from Belgian to French to American to Chinese—just prefer to have Central Africa festering in chaos, because it’s cheaper. What we’re seeing is history frozen, or even reversed: the natural outcome, a stable Tutsi Empire that would keep the peace in a place that’s never had a decent government, gets squashed over and over again.