Weekend Reading

Whose readings are these?

“Don’t tell me it’s about peace,” a 29-year old Congolese peace activist, Micheline Mwendike, said of the Akon gig. Her letterbox-red nails flashed as she gesticulated with frustration. “It’s about dancing and singing. To sing and to take a moment of joy is good — but you have to choose your moment. We are killing values for this short moment.”

In choosing to dance, instead of use Peace Day to talk about good governance, she said, a valuable opportunity was being missed: to talk about justice and impunity, to talk about the diabolical state of North Kivu’s roads, to talk about the leaders who show no interest in providing basic services, to talk about the obstacles to peace. “If there are no solutions, the future generation will be in the same position as today,” Mwendike said.

Josiana Nzuki, a 15-year-old sucking a red lollipop on a break from school, took a deep breath, and started to speak almost in a whisper before finding her voice. “My mother used to tell me, if there’s a problem, don’t look at the impacts, look for the roots. Here in Goma, you won’t find the roots,” she said. Nzuki thinks Akon and Jude Law should be out in the countryside, seeing the armed groups’ fiefdoms for what they are. “This festival is useless. I’m not interested.”

During the thirteen years of the “war on terror,” actions of the United States government have consistently and predictably strengthened anti-American terrorist groups. To chalk this all up to stupidity — rather than unstated imperial imperatives — is to choose ignorance.

The American “war on terror” has been terrific for jihadist groups. According to famed FBI interrogator Al Soufan, Al Qaeda had about four hundred operatives on 9/11. Today, the group numbers well into the thousands, with thriving affiliates in several countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Its wayward cousin, Islamic State, rules over millions of people in territory the size of the United Kingdom.

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