Crisis in Congo

I personally don't know too much about the current humanitarian crisis going on in Congo, but I'm learning more and it really saddens me. Just today I saw a collection of pictures from the amazing photoblog "The Big Picture" that puts faces to the numbers. The pictures are beautiful, tragic, and sometimes a bit graphic, but definitely worth viewing.

This video from Condition: Critical (an awesome Doctors Without Borders webpage) tells more about what's going on:

What can you do? Get educated, spread the word, donate to Doctors Without Borders, or investigate the situation yourself and figure out another way to help (and let us all know too!)


Jeff Hoopes said...

So, what do we do about this, and other atrocities mentioned on this page?

Last time the US took action to control a regime that was participating in such human right's abuses (that were later confirmed by the international community and the leader of that nation was executed), the US leadership was (and are) condemned for doing so. What's a superpower to do? We (as a nation, and as individuals) can certainly help victims and such, but as far as actually stopping and preventing things, what is to be done?

It seems that if we get involved and overthrow governments, regimes, or groups, then folks don't like it. If we do nothing, the same folks don't like it. Evil causes misery, but if we are unwilling to destroy that evil, the misery will continue. It would be nice if we could non-violently change the evil into good, but, in many cases, this seems unlikely if not impossible. I am interested some thoughts on this.

austin said...

There is not an easy answer to this question. It's a very good question though, and one that needs to be asked.

Here are my two cents. I don't disagree that Saddam was a terrible person who committed atrocious crimes against his own people. However, there are not a few other awful dictators around the world like him, or possibly even worse. I don't think the US went in to Iraq to solve human rights abuses. We certainly don't seem to care so passionately about any of the other problem areas of the world enough to invade them.

The problem with invading Iraq, in my opinion, was the unilateral-ness of it. Basically, we decided things needed to change, so we went and changed them. (Yeah, we put together a "coalition of the willing," but it was basically us who were behind the whole idea) Without building real international support, or even looking at whether once Saddam was gone there was any kind of native Iraqi leadership who could take the reins. We wanted to, we did it. Very little planning or mature evaluation of the situation seemed to happen. With that kind of reckless cowboy diplomacy, I don't blame the world for being mad at us. We've created a mess in Iraq.

I think we should be extremely wary of overthrowing foreign governments, and we should probably never be the ones to instigate such a thing. I think of the American revolution, where the colonists themselves started a revolution and sought the help of other countries in their war against Britain. I would be in favor of an indigenous movement for democracy--aiding people like the Hungarians in 1956. I don't think it works to force democracy on a country that isn't already fighting for it themselves.

Specifically with the ongoing crisis in the Congo, I don't know what exactly the US can do. I don't think going in and taking over the country would be wise, but inaction is obviously not acceptable either. I'm sure though that there are more things we can do in the diplomatic and humanitarian areas. There are more than just military options. I don't think we can solve this problem for the people of the Congo, but we need to care, and be ready to offer any assistance we can.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, I'd love to hear any other thoughts you have, as well as anybody else's ideas.