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Morning Bell: What’s at Stake in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Posted By Rob Bluey On December 19, 2012 @ 9:08 am In American Leadership | 19 Comments
Hollywood actor Ben Affleck brings his star power to Congress today to testify on the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its implications for the United States. Affleck will be joined at the hearing by Heritage’s James Jay Carafano, who will explain why the Obama administration should rethink support for the U.N. peacekeeping mission there. This is the second hearing in two weeks on the issue.
Affleck’s activism in the DRC has helped elevate awareness about the country’s instability. Today’s hearing before the House Armed Services Committee  is an opportunity for Americans to learn more about what’s happening in the central African nation.
In a new report, Heritage’s Morgan Lorraine Roach and Brett D. Schaefer explain the country’s troubled history  and the plight of DRC citizens, who are among the world’s poorest and suffer from high infant mortality and low life expectancy .
The current crisis stems from the mid-1990s clash between DRC and neighbors Rwanda and Uganda. The most prominent rebel group officially disbanded after a March 23, 2009, peace deal, that was supposed to integrate rebel troops into the Congolese army. Earlier this year, DRC president Joseph Kabila ordered the arrest of former rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda, prompting his former troops to again rebel under the new name “M23” in reference to the March 23 peace deal. M23 launched an offensive in eastern Congo and, just last month, occupied and later withdrew from eastern Congo’s largest city of Goma.
Failure of the ill-trained and unprofessional Congolese armed forces to stop the rebels’ assault reflects poorly on the U.N. peacekeeping mission. The U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, has a budget of an annual $1.4 billion . The U.N. peacekeepers are charged with protecting civilians, but as the recent advance of M23 reveals, it has failed to effectively carry out its mission.
To make matters worse, Kabila’s government has used violence, corruption, and cronyism to maintain power. Yet the international community continues to endorse his government and its support, supplemented by U.N. peacekeepers, allows Kabila to disregard his governance and security responsibilities.
What should the United States do? In the last fiscal year, American taxpayers provided more than $110 million  in humanitarian assistance for the Congolese people. There are five steps the Obama administration should consider immediately, according to Roach and Schaefer:
It’s time the United States made these much-needed changes to more effectively address the plight of the Congolese people.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/12/19/morning-bell-whats-at-stake-in-the-democratic-republic-of-congo/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/ben-affleck.jpg
 hearing before the House Armed Services Committee: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/12/19/change-in-strategy-needed-for-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo/
 Watch a webcast of the hearing live, beginning at 10 a.m. ET: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Advocates-Experts-Testify-on-Situation-in-the-Congo/10737436716-1/
 explain the country’s troubled history: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/12/democratic-republic-of-congo-crisis-and-the-us-response
 high infant mortality and low life expectancy: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html
 budget of an annual $1.4 billion: http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/monusco/facts.shtml
 Index of Economic Freedom: Democratic Republic of Congo: http://www.heritage.org/index/country/democraticrepubliccongo
 blames bureaucrats: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/18/review-board-slams-state-benghazi-security-failure/
 President Obama: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/12/18/obamas-lucy-move-the-football-fiscal-cliff-plan-still-not-balanced/
 to do some painful soul-searching: http://www.politico.com/story/2012/12/many-dems-not-sold-on-chained-cpi-offer-85287.html
 major victory : http://www.becketfund.org/federal-appeals-court-hands-victory-to-religious-colleges-commands-hhs-to-act-quickly-to-fix-contraception-mandate/
 annual awards: http://www.mrc.org/notable-quotables/best-notable-quotables-2012
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