Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Congo Explained

If you want to understand the tragedy that is the Democratic Republic of Congo, put aside the mythology and read Dancing In The Glory of Monsters. Jason Stearns has untangled the snarling mess that is the history of this sad nation.

As someone who's researched and written about the Congo myself, I found new insights into the interminable conflicts that have wracked the country for it's entire modern history. Stearns clearly delineates the players, putting them into context and showing how they interacted to make the Congo what it is today. He carefully explains the role of Rwanda's Paul Kagame and other outsiders in the turmoil, but also delineates the power hunger and short-comings of the Congo's own leaders, including current President Joseph Kabila.

Most importantly, Stearns shows how there is no one single cause of the Congo's troubles. He calmly shows how tribal rivalries fuel the strife just as much as the struggle to control the country's mineral wealth. He explains how the internal politics of Zimbabwe, Uganda, Angola, and other countries in addition to Rwanda led to their deep involvement in the DRC's wars. While he rightfully deplores the epidemic of rape in the Congo, he puts it in context and doesn't dwell on it--not because it's not important, but because there's much more to the story.

I found it refreshing that Stearns resists the impulse to blame rapacious multinational corporations for much of anything except trying to find a way to do business in the Congo. He doesn't ignore the many shortcomings of most of the deals to exploit the Congo's riches, but correctly points out that most of them were struck by Congolese leaders eager to fund their own ambitions. He leaves the conspiracy theories to other, less informed writers.

Dancing In The Glory Of Monsters is an objective, clear-eyed look at one of the greatest ongoing tragedies in modern history.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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