While much attention from the U.S. foreign policy establishment is focused on Mali at the moment, Washington's top diplomat on Africa made a compelling case to a packed auditorium at the Brookings Institution this week for why the Democratic Republic of Congo deserves a higher position on the list of strategic U.S. national priorities.
"After many years of looking at and trying to deal with a string of recurring crises in the DRC, many people have ignored or written off the country as simply hopeless," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, speaking at an event on Monday hosted by the Brookings Institution's Africa Growth Initiative. But to do so would be "a serious mistake" for the Congolese people, Congo's neighbors, and the international community, Carson said. "[W]e have a stake in promoting stability and social progress around the world, and [...] instability in the DRC is not cost free to the United States," he said.
Carson's case for elevating Congo on the list of U.S. strategic priorities included the following points:
1. The sheer scale of the suffering constitutes a moral imperative to contribute to solutions in the Congo. Carson noted that more than 5 million people have died as a result of violence since 1998, making the conflict in the Congo the deadliest on the planet since World War II.[view whole blog post ]