Congo stands out as a country that has numerous deep, intractable problems. Its government in the west exercises limited control over much of the country, its army is ineffective in suppressing militias and foreign forces in its territory, and it is ringed by neighbors that have no scruples against fishing in its troubled waters. Kagame winks and nods at Nkunda’s rebels, but claims to have no control over them, while the government in Kinshasha has not done much, partly because it cannot do much, to strike at the surviving genocidaires. What will outside intervention do that is going to change this dynamic in a fundamental way? Even if Western states were willing and able to establish some buffer force to keep Nkunda in line, what would prevent that force from being pulled into a multi-sided conflict as the Nigerians were in Liberia? At what point would such a mission be deemed too costly or futile to continue? What would keep such a mission from becoming a near-permanent deployment? Obviously, at no point in his column does Gerson answer any of these questions, nor does he explain why the problems of central Africa should not be primarily the responsibility of the states involved and of the African Union.Typically it is these "deep, intractable problems" that make intervention such a messy business. Think of the sectarian divides in Iraq. If Iraq had been a less divided country, certainly our intervention there would have been much simpler. The fact is, however, it is a country and region despairingly divided. We did not take history into account when we invaded that country. Would we be exhibiting the same short-sightedness should we intervene in the Congo?
Should Europe (and by extension America) simply wash its hands of the post-colonial fall-out it largely helped create? Does meddling only make matters worse?
I don't know if either school of thought has the right answer--indeed, I believe that each situation as it arises needs to be taken into account. Darfur is not the same crisis as the Congo. Each must be judged on its own set of circumstances.
Or does the credo "mind your own damn business" deserve more merit on the international stage?