February 1, 2013
The Europeans required over a thousand years to come up with the European Union (and the EU still doesn't work right). The Congo, approximately the same size as Europe, has never had any history of legitimate, national self-governance. When Europeans started exploring the region in the late 1800s they found countless tribes of naked, cannibalistic savages: No wonder European consciences remained unperturbed when they claimed that land for their own. But the lines drawn on a map by King Leopold of Belgium no more represent a coherent political entity today than then. So what's the right thing to do with, for, or to the Congo? Should it be accorded consideration as if it were a real country, or what? I ask because I don't know the answer. And I'm pretty sure most people don't even think this is an important question, but they're mistaken. To get one perspective from a well informed practitioner I turned to former UN Under Secretary General Alan Doss, who from 2007 to 2010 headed MONUC (now called MONUSCO), the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo. It was very kind of Alan to talk with me and whatever errors of interpretation I may make in understanding his remarks are my fault alone. Total runtime forty three minutes. Quālis rēx, tālis grex.