U.S. Arms to Africa and the Congo War

Deadly Legacy: U.S. Arms to Africa and the Congo War

"We hope to build a new and lasting partnership between Africa and the world, based on common interests, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to peace, prosperity, and freedom."- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Statement to the UN Security Council Ministerial on Africa, Sept. 24, 1998
"When the United States assumes the Presidency of the Security Council next month, in January 2000 – the first month of the first year of the new millennium – I wish to announce today that we intend to make Africa the priority of the month."- U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke Pretoria, South Africa, Dec. 6, 1999
"The problem of all the ethnic and tribal wars must be either resolved or at least largely reduced through a big effort by the countries that deal in arms to prevent the over-militarisation of Africa."- Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Michel Camdessus Comments to French radio, Jan. 2, 2000...

Often, the U.S. offered weapons and military assistance to a repressive government with one hand while raising the other in the name of securing democracy and promoting stability. Inevitably, somewhere down the line the regime collapses, and U.S. policy-makers are left struggling to re-write their lines. Once a new government takes power, the cycle reemerges with the same old offers of U.S. military training to help "secure democracy." Despite the astounding regularity with which the policy of arming African governments has failed, U.S. policy-makers have been unable (or unwilling) to develop effective non-military forms of engagement.
Moreover, the U.S. has failed to acknowledge its own role in fueling conflict and undermining democratic development in Africa. A July 1999 Report by the U.S. Bureau of Intelligence and Research states clearly that "Arms transfers and trafficking and the conflicts they feed are having a devastating impact on Sub-Saharan Africa." Yet, the authors fail to attribute responsibility to the U.S. for either its past or current military weapons and training exports to Africa, explicitly leaving the U.S. out of the picture: "Arms suppliers in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North America, Latin America, and Asia have sold arms to African clients."[4] In fact, nowhere does the report mention U.S. arms transfers to the region, although more than $20 million worth of U.S. weapons and training were delivered to Africa in 1998 alone.[5] Nor is there any recognition that the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of U.S. equipment transferred to the Mobutu regime in Zaire and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA movement in Angola since the 1970's are still being utilized in current African conflicts...
...the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo presents a vivid example of how U.S. policies – past and present – have failed the people of Africa. After more than two years of devastating war, African leaders are struggling, with little success, to implement the Lusaka peace accord. Signatories to the treaty continue to call for UN peacekeeping support even as they prepare for continued fighting. Despite its demonstrable role in planting the seeds of this conflict, the U.S. has done little to either acknowledge its complicity or help create a viable resolution. Official tours of the region and impressive rhetoric will not be enough to contribute to lasting peace, democratic stability, and economic development in Africa...
Major Findings
Finding 1 – Due to the continuing legacies of its Cold War policies toward Africa, the U.S. bears some responsibility for the cycles of violence and economic problems plaguing the continent. Throughout the Cold War (1950-1989), the U.S. delivered over $1.5 billion worth of weaponry to Africa. Many of the top U.S. arms clients – Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan, and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC) – have turned out to be the top basket cases of the 1990s in terms of violence, instability, and economic collapse.
Finding 2 – The ongoing civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) is a prime example of the devastating legacy of U.S. arms sales policy on Africa. The U.S. prolonged the rule of Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Soko by providing more than $300 million in weapons and $100 million in military training. Mobutu used his U.S.-supplied arsenal to repress his own people and plunder his nation's economy for three decades, until his brutal regime was overthrown by Laurent Kabila's forces in 1997. When Kabila took power, the Clinton administration quickly offered military support by developing a plan for new training operations with the armed forces.
Finding 3 – Although the Clinton administration has been quick to criticize the governments involved in the Congo War, decades of U.S. weapons transfers and continued military training to both sides of the conflict have helped fuel the fighting. The U.S. has helped build the arsenals of eight of the nine governments directly involved in the war that has ravaged the DRC since Kabila's coup. U.S. military transfers in the form of direct government-to-government weapons deliveries, commercial sales, and International Military Education and Training (IMET) to the states directly involved have totaled more than $125 million since the end of the Cold War.
Finding 4 – Despite the failure of U.S. polices in the region, the current administration continues to respond to Africa's woes by helping to strengthen African militaries. As U.S. weapons deliveries to Africa continue to rise, the Clinton administration is now undertaking a wave of new military training programs in Africa. Between 1991-1998, U.S. weapons and training deliveries to Africa totaled more than $227 million. In 1998 alone, direct weapons transfers and IMET training totaled $20.1 million. And, under the Pentagon's Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) program, U.S. special forces have trained military personnel from at least 34 of Africa's 53 nations, including troops fighting on both sides of the DRC's civil war – from  Uganda (supporting the rebels) to Zimbabwe and Namibia (supporting the Kabila regime).
Finding 5 – Even as it fuels military build-up, the U.S. continues cutting development assistance to Africa and remains unable (or unwilling) to promote alternative non-violent forms of engagement. While the U.S. ranks number one in global weapons exports, it falls dead last among industrialized nations in providing non-military foreign aid to the developing world. In 1997, the U.S. devoted only 0.09% of GNP to international development assistance, the lowest proportion of all developed countries. U.S. development aid to all of sub-Saharan Africa dropped to just $700 million in recent years.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
Procurement Consultant
Gsm:  +250-08470205
Home: +250-55104140
P.O. Box 3867
East Africa
Blog: http://www.cepgl.blogspot.com
Skype ID : Kayisa66

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