World War Three

You may have missed it, but World War Three actually already took place:The Second Congo War was a conflict that took place largely in the territory of Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). The war began in 1998 and officially ended in 2003 when a Transitional Government took power. The widest interstate war in modern African history, it directly involved nine African nations, as well as about twenty armed groups, and earned the epithets of "Africa's World War" and the "Great War of Africa." An estimated 3.8 million people died, mostly from starvation and disease brought about by the deadliest conflict since World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighboring countries.

Despite a formal end to the war in July 2003 and an agreement by the former belligerents to create a government of national unity, the state remains weak and much of the eastern region continues to suffer from violent conflict. In 2004, an estimated one thousand people died every day from violence and disruptions to basic social services and food supply. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting continue to lead to large scale forced migration. But I guess we didn't care back then, just like we didn't care during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when another million people died. Central Africa is the poorest place on Earth, and as such holds little or no strategic, diplomatic, economic, or political value to the West. That over five million people died in war and genocide, and that several million more starved or were displaced, in this region, was little more than a footnote in our national consciousness. That none of parties in the conflict didn't much car about the Unites States either only helped fuel our disinterest.

I wanted to point this out before breaking my promise to not talk about Israel and Lebanon. I simply have to write about it now, because staying quiet as I watch the world slowly burn down is draining my energy to engage in politics at all. By pointing out that we already sat out World War Three, I hope to cut into what I see as the absurd self-righteousness on the various sides of this conflict.

We are all paying attention to this conflict, just as we have ignored other conflicts for years now. The reason we are paying attention to this one is not because of the principles in involved, and not because of the body counts all around. It is, instead, because the economic importance of the region and because of the cultural tensions between what can be loosely described as "the West" and what can be loosely described as "the Muslim world." Were it not for those two factors, we would not be paying attention to this story at all, which is why we ignored World War Three. Hell, if those two factors did not exist, in all likelihood the conflict would probably not exist either.

On a more personal level, I remember how one of these ignored conflicts hit home. As I spent June of 1998 studying in Rome, Italy, I found out one week after the fact that there had been a coup in Guinea-Bissau and the country was engaged in a brief civil war. This hit home for me because the woman who I was engaged to at the time was in the Peace Corps in Guinea-Bissau. When I finally received the news, after immediately running to the bathroom and vomiting, I spent the next several hours on the phone trying to figure out what had happened. It eventually turned out that she was okay, but until the conflict ended that autumn, it remained almost impossible to get any news on what was happening in the country. Because the world just did not care.

As I make my first post on the Israel-Lebanon conflict today, I just want to open up by pointing out the double-standard in our attention to foreign conflicts. The different amounts of attention we pay to different conflicts and different genocides demonstrates as clearly as anything else I can think of that few people in this world value all human equally. Once we accept that, I think we can start coming to terms with the causes of the many conflicts we are engaged in today, no matter what high faloutin' principles we claim are at stake. Here are some stories from the weekend on the conflict that I fond interesting: I don't know if I will post anymore on Israel and Lebanon, but I had to say something. To completely ignore this topic just wasn't working for me anymore.

Tags: war (all tags)



I've always hated the term

"African World War" because while it did involve lots of Africans, it was confined to that continent. Maybe "African Continental War" would be better, in any case, and by any measure it was not a world war.

It was also incredibly confusing to follow the various alliances invasions and changes in sides.

But yes it was a horrible event in the annals of Africa that we didn't really care much about for the reasons you state. We'd do the same in the Middle-East if it weren't for oil and nukes. Pits of scorpions that we had a rather large hand in creating.

I have and have heard some very interesting thoughts on Africa but I'm not sure this is the place to express them. Maybe a DKos diary ;)

by MNPundit 2006-07-24 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: I've always hated the term

On of the terms that I have always liked in regards to WWI and WWII came from Steve Biko, the brilliant South African man who was brutally murdered by his government.  He used to refer to both of these wars as European Civil Wars and while his point can be debated, I believe that the central point hits home.

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-07-24 06:59PM | 0 recs

A regional war, even a really large regional war, doesn't qualify as "World War 3".  In fact, I wish we'd just retire the term "World War 3" altogether, as I very much doubt any conflict will ever earn the title for good.  Fifty years from now they're still going to be claiming that everything's World War 3.

I think what's missing there is the continuity with the first and second World Wars.  I always thought the names were deserved because the second world war was simply an additional, bloody chapter to the first.  If there had ever been a direct war between the US and Russia, it would have easily qualified as World War 3 because, again, there's continuity there.  But that never happened, so there's never going to be a conflict that really fits in with the other two in quite the same way.  So can we please stop using this label to convince people that this conflict or that conflict was worth their attention?

by Ryan Anderson 2006-07-24 11:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Agreed

It's a World War because the conflict is fought across the scope of the Earth and it is unignorable by the people of the time.

How many people completely ignored the Second Congo War?

by MNPundit 2006-08-01 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: World War Three

I am not sure what to take from the diary, though I am glad it is written, in so much as it can faciliate discussion.  

The basic premise seems to be that all the focus on Israel and Lebanon is unfair.  Unfair to the war-torn parts of the world that are neglected, and maybe unfair to Israel in that a disproportionate amount of attention is focused on Israel.  

The last suggestion makes me uncomfortable.  I have heard this argument for years, that the US press pays too much attention to Israel.  It makes me uncomfortable because the argument is invariably made by staunch Israel apologists, unwilling to cast a critical eye on Israeli policies.  

I love documentaries, and having lived in Britain for a couple of years, I have a real fondness for BBC documentaries.  I love when I get to see them on PBS thanks to a reciprocity agreement between the two networks.  Who didnt love "Blue Planet?"  I had been wanting especially to see "The End of an Affair," which I had heard about for several years.  In trying to figure out when it would air in the US (it won't, I have since discovered that all BBC documentaries concerning Israel are excluded from the exchange agreement) I came across an article written by a British-Israeli lawyer, condemning the BBC as anti-semetic.  

Some arguments: "We find that the BBC is in persistent breach of its duties of fairness, accuracy and impartiality when it covers the Middle East. The overwhelming concentration on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict amounts to discrimination against all the other humanitarian and political causes around the world which also merit attention."

Sounds a little like Chris's take.  Of course, that's not the real problem.  "Within the programmes made on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict there is an overwhelming bias against Israel."  I dont want to address this point here, maybe I will write a diary later.  

But there are real reasons why a declaration of war (formal or otherwise) by Israel against one of its neighbors is relevant to Americans.  First and foremost, the US funds Israel, providing it with both billions of dollars a year in monetary support, and with arms.  Many of those missiles raining down on Beruit were paid for by US taxpayers.  I wish it wasnt so, but it is, and that makes it our business.  

Secondly, cultural ties are strong.  I know many Israelis, or people who have friends and relatives in Israel, and I know quite a few Lebanese too.  People in my sphere have a vested personal interest in this war.  While I am happy to assume that the Congolese are fine people, I cant be sure, I dont know any.  

Third, Israel is a nuclear power, surrounded by hostile, and potentially hostile neighbors.  A broader war risks nuclear war, and that is not a possibilty in central Africa.  

Now as for what is going to happen, as I posted on Kos, all the regional players have revealed their hands, and a broader war is not in the cards.  The Israelis have very little to lose in continuing its current campaign.  Its population supports it.  There is little risk in a major destabilization, now that it is clear that Syria and Iran will not become directly involved.  

Israel occupied southern Lebanon for almost 20 years, until 2000.  While I doubt that another long-term occupation will become a goal, if it does, it will be an act with very recent precedent.  

Finally, the majority of Lebanese hate Hezbollah.  The Sunnis and Christians blamed Hebollah for dragging the nation into decades of violence, and they were unable to reign in the group.  If the national army had attempted to occupy its own southern border, as agreed to in the withdrawal agreement, conventional wisdom is that civil war would have been reignited.  Convienently for Israel, many Lebanese have no problem assigned Hezbollah its share of the blame for the current war.  

by Winston Smith 2006-07-24 11:59AM | 0 recs

22-JUL-2006 : After meeting with senior officials of The Administration in Washington, D.C., the Saudi Prince laid out in full, the Final Agenda.

"Give ISRAEL enough rope to hang herself," he told them, "it's the only way out."

Everyone agreed, everyone could see, yes ~ this was the only way out. It was everyone's long-sought Exit Strategy, and it was politically delicious: Der Dolchstoss!

The American working- and middle-classes, having born the brunt of the blood and treasure cost of The Administration's fiasco in the MidEast, were beginning to catch on. They felt fooled; they felt betrayed.

The usual divisive issues no longer had any bite. The polls weren't responding like they used to: Gay-Baiting / Sexual politics and Race-Baiting / Immigration politics of fear, ever so useful in the past, were no longer effective. Americans were angry ~ and somebody had to pay.

But now at last they had found their Final Agenda. The Saudis could sit back and let ISRAEL pound their nemesis, the Shi'ites. The Anglo-Americans, meanwhile, could set up The Jews to take the fall for their MidEast folly.

By then, It was already too late to salvage the Mid-Term, 2006 election ~ they would lose The House, they knew, but The Party was still intact. More important, their grip on the American Main-Stream Media, though frayed, was still functional.

Murdoch, in particular, was alarmed. "I can't hold this line much longer," he told them. NASCAR Dad's and SOCCER Mom's eyeballs were no longer sticking to the Trailer Trash Pie he was dishing out as "news".

Priority One was to blame the Neo-Cons = "Jewish Intellectuals" for, in the words of Patrick Buchanan, "mis-leading the leaders of our great country."

The Neo-Cons would be shunned, hung up to wither and die ~ their brief careers snuffed out under the same FOX fire 24/7 roasting loop of pundits and puffed-up, talk-show demagogues that only months before had been their greatest allies.

There was collateral damage, too ~ a lot of it. Most of the Officer Corps was purged, one result of the House's Special Committee to Investigate "The Activities of Anti-American Neo-Cons" all over the Federal Government. Federal funding for Jewish organizations, university professors, began to dry up. Then, it got ugly.

"We must question the Family Values of the Jews," Dobson said. Robertson would come out later that week. "The Jews have failed to assimilate among us. They are practicing abortion and encouraging sex without marriage by promoting birth-control among our children. THEY ARE TEACHING EVOLUTION."

Angry working- and middle-class Americans quickly seized upon the Talking Points of the Main-Stream Media's new "conversation."

The Democrats, never quick to catch on, found themselves with yet another hideous dilemma confounding them: The Jewish-American voting BLOC was traditionally Democratic. Rovian Republicans had succeeded yet again, beyond their wildest expectaions... Democrats were frozen, their loyalties and logic, maddeningly divided.

Senator Lieberman had already been hounded out of office ~ by the naive NETROOTS progressives; the technorati caught on too late to the blunt RealPolitik of Power. "They would never go THAT FAR," they blogged ~ never dreaming that SOMEBODY had to take the fall for failure, and it sure as hell wasn't going to be the CronyCapitalists and the corrupt Republican puppets that they had all worked so hard, for so long, to put in power.

Soon Feinstein and the others would be gone, too. "They betrayed us," exit-polled voters in California said, "We don't want these Jews in our Party: THEY CAUSED THE WAR!"


22-JUL-2006 : give them enough rope to hang themselves, the Saudi Prince said ;-)

by MonsieurGonzo 2006-07-24 06:24PM | 0 recs

What the fuck is this?  The Saudi monarchy are anti-semetic?  Not a newsflash.  Pat Robertson is an anti-semite who believes all Jews are damned to hell, and blames "European Bankers" for the holocaust.  Also, not news, though to be fair to Pat, he does believe that Israel has to exist in order for Jesus to return to earth and bring forth Armageddon, so he is now actively working to support Israel.  Plus, I think he hates arabs more than Jews.  Its ashame about that theme park though.  

The rest?  Ah, an apocalyptic metaphor.. always useful in political discussions.  Let me see if I understand your point.  Beset by problems, foreign and domestic, good Aryan.. er.. I mean anglo-Americans will soon choose Jewish-Americans as catch all scapegoats, and seek to rid the land of this foreign influence.  

Yes, I see it now.  Opposition to Lieberman must be the first sign of the impending and inevitable American cristalnacht.  I wish now that I hadnt been such a naive technorati.  Thanks for your insight Monsieur.  

by Winston Smith 2006-07-24 08:04PM | 0 recs

"I wish now that I had not been such a naive technorati..."

...apparently you REMAIN a naive technorati, as your ANGST = Anger + Fear overwhelms your capacity to express yourself by any means other than adolescent sarcasm.

i feel your pain, and i am truly sorry that you are experiencing such misery. Best regards,


by MonsieurGonzo 2006-07-25 12:22PM | 0 recs


Thanks for responding.. that was unexpected.  I apologize for both my sarcasm and the use of the F word.

When I respond to members' posts, I generally use a similiar tone as the prompting post.  I think that your post confused me because, although while I suspect you have a serious point to make, your hypothetical prophetic style was turbid and obtuse.  I was not sure if you were being sarcastic yourself.  

In addition, the post, by not making any clear statements and not using domestic evidence, seemed designed to propose a growing anti-semetic wave, which would result in a US holocaust, in a way that would prevent a response or discussion.  I am sure that was unintentional.  

If you are inclined, I am interested in reading your thoughts on the topic, though, if you would excuse my lack of subtlety, it would help if you could make more clear statements.  

Finally, you should know that while I personally dont presume anything about a person's mental state from these tiny bits of prose, it does not in anyway offend my when my fellow members feel confident enough to do so.  

However, I feel compelled to point out the irony of your accusation that my response is motivated by fear, considering that it was prompted by what seemed to be a prophecy of impending US campaign of anti-semetic ethnic cleansing.  

Dont worry about it though, we all say stupid things.  

by Winston Smith 2006-07-25 11:10PM | 0 recs
Its always About money

I hate to sound too cynical on the subject Chris, but lets be honest and stake for the record that primarily our concern is about the money.  Frankly, having an ally in the middle East, and a strong military and nuclear ally at that, has been beleived to be in the best interest of US foreign policy for what would seem to be forever.  Africa, on the other hand, has never really been that way.  Historically, Africa has always been viewed by the West for what can be taken from it (manpower) and outposts to reach other destinations (lets not forget that South Africa was populated largely as an outpost for sailors to get fresh fruits to avoid catching Scurvy on the way to India).  In other words, the West's care for Africa lies in the past whereas its care for the Middle East lies in the present.  Of course this is no major revelation.

I wish that I could say that our concern for the riches of various regions throughout time did not lead us to build outposts where we can attempt to dominate populations from, but rather to help integrate diverse portions of various socities so that the relationships could be mutually beneficial.  The sad irony in this situation is that Hezbollah has helped to feed, clothe, and educate a generation that would have been subjected to far worse poverty than they have been had it not been for those leaders.  Why can't we encourage the same thing?  Why can't we help more?  Why can't we just make things a little bit easier?  I don't think that we should have all the answers, but why can't we help make things a little easier rather than more difficult?

by Mark J. Bowers 2006-07-24 07:09PM | 0 recs


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