“When Congo shakes, Africa trembles,” said Jeffrey Gettleman in the International Herald Tribune, and Congo is shaking. That’s why Western diplomats are rushing to intervene in the Central African nation—which borders nine countries—after skirmishes outside Goma between Tutsi rebels and Congolese troops. The rebels have “laid bare the fecklessness of the Congolese government,” but more worrisome is the impotence of the U.N. peacekeepers.
The U.N. force needs to be “bulked up immediately,” said Canada’s Globe and Mail in an editorial. The 1995 Hutu-led genocide in neighboring Rwanda prompted the West to “swear piously” that it would never let this “bleakly familiar” ethnic conflict play out again. Now it has to act, and the key is to bribe or cajole Rwanda to stop backing the rebels.
You can’t wholly blame Rwanda for its interest in the conflict, said Anne Penketh in Britain’s The Independent. The U.N. failed to disarm the Hutu militias that fled to the Goma area after the genocide, and still cross back to attack Rwanda. The regional “proxy war” will continue until that issue is resolved.
The 17,000 ill-trained U.N. peacekeepers in Congo are doing their best, said The Washington Post in an editorial, but they’re spending “more time dodging stones from residents enraged by their" incompetence than protecting those residents from “unspeakable violence.” After 15 bloody years, “diplomacy alone will not end this crisis.”