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And yet, despite its epic proportions, it has received little sustained media attention. In this deeply reported book, Jason K. Stearns vividly tells the story of this misunderstood conflict through the experiences of those who engineered and perpetrated it. He depicts village pastors who survived massacres, the child soldier assassin of President Kabila, a female Hutu activist who relives the hunting and methodical extermination of fellow refugees, and key architects of the war that became as great a disaster as-and was a direct consequence of-the genocide in neighboring Rwanda.
Through their stories, he tries to understand why such mass violence made sense, and why stability has been so elusive. Through their voices, and an astonishing wealth of knowledge and research, Stearns chronicles the political, social, and moral decay of the Congolese State. King Leopold's Ghost. Adam Hochschild. Blood River. Tim Butcher. Anne Applebaum. The Shadow World. Andrew Feinstein.
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Dancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason Stearns | PublicAffairs
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American Fascists. Chris Hedges. The Romanovs: The Final Chapter. Worse, the Congolese Mobutu regime refused to take action, and even covertly seemed to be supporting the Rwandan government-in-exile. Mobutu also cynically stoked anti-Tutsi sentiments in Congo to boost the popularity of his own government, and his government passed resolutions demanding the repatriation of all Rwandan and Burundian refugees and immigrants, further provoking the Rwandan government as well as Tutsi immigrants from Rwanda and Burundi who had long made their home in Congo Several bordering states, previously slighted by the Mobutu government, quickly allied themselves to the mission.
The first war began on August 30, , when a small group of rebels crossed the border from Rwanda into Zaire. The rebellion was led by four commanders hand-picked by the Rwandans. At the same time, Stearns notes, the rebels often became embroiled in local feuds over identity and land, including anti-Tutsi demagoguery, leading to cyclical massacres and counter-massacres of civilians.
Stearns bravely explores the political hot-potato of a hypothesis that the massacres conducted by Rwandan troops against Hutus constituted a systematic genocide, a kind of counter-genocide to the events of While numbers are extremely difficult to pin down, he cites a report that says at least 60, refugees were killed, with a further , missing. A second report by a UN team found that Rwandan and AFDL troops massacred refugees, often in brutal ways using hatchets, stones and knives, and that the majority of victims were women, children, the elderly and sick The Rwandan army might be described as the precipitating cause of the first war, but the decay of the Mobutu-led state was also an important factor.
By the time of the invasion, Zaire was essentially a failed state, with an army propped up by foreign allies and mercenaries, a weakness rooted in the historical Belgian colonial state Despite or perhaps because of the effort and carnage that it took to place Kabila in power, he was destined to reside over a peaceful Congo for just fifteen months, until August The reader encounters a Kabila who maintained a strict schedule of meetings with advisers throughout the day, but allowed himself a few hours each evening to read books on philosophy and history, including biographies of de Gaulle, Mao and Napoleon Meanwhile, by , concerned that the Rwandans and Congolese Tutsi would attempt to remove him from power, Kabila had begun recruiting ex-FAR troops to his army, the very troops that his AFDL rebellion had fought against.
The Rwandans were further antagonized by arrests and attacks against Tutsi civilians by Congolese soldiers, prompted by anti-Tutsi sentiments Desperate to contain the situation and replace Kabila with a more amenable leader, Rwanda invaded in , and within hours had taken control of most of eastern Congo, with the help of defected Congolese soldiers, lead by the former commander of the Congolese Army. However, regional battle lines were again quickly drawn, but this time they did not line up with the war, when the region sided overwhelmingly with Rwanda.
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- Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa.
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Through their stories, he tries to understand why such mass violence made sense, and why stability has been so elusive. Through their voices, and an astonishing wealth of knowledge and research, Stearns chronicles the political, social, and moral decay of the Congolese State. A "tremendous," "intrepid" history of the devastating war in the heart of Africa's Congo, with first-hand accounts of the continent's worst conflict in modern times. At the heart of Africa is the Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, bordering nine other nations, that since has been wracked by a brutal war in which millions have died.
Stearns has written a compelling and deeply-reported narrative of how Congo became a failed state that collapsed into a war of retaliatory massacres. Stearns brilliantly describes the key perpetrators, many of whom he met personally, and highlights the nature of the political system that brought these people to power, as well as the moral decisions with which the war confronted them.