From: (Teresa Cathelineau)
Subject: French troops out of Congo!
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african
Sender: Geraldine Cathelineau
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2003 17:23:43 GMT

French troops out of Congo!

Editorial, The Militant, 16 June 2003

The United Nations Security Council has approved sending up to 1,000 French troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The stated reason for the deployment, “peacekeeping,” could not be further from the truth. Paris is one of the oldest and most brutal imperialist powers in Africa. The more than 9,000 French soldiers stationed throughout its former colonies on the continent, whether regular forces or the hated Foreign Legion, are there for one and only one reason—to protect the economic interests of French finance capital. French corporations enjoy an export market in Africa worth more than billion annually. Paris's UN diplomat made it clear that French troops sent to Congo expect to “take all necessary means—including force.” Paris already has 4,000 of its troops in Ivory Coast, a former French colony, doing just that—using force to put down opposition to an unpopular regime, one that can be counted on to defend Paris's interests in that country. Hundreds of thousands of mostly Ivorian youth have demonstrated against the armed presence of the former colonial power in their country. They marched earlier this year through the capital chanting “Chirac! Assassin!”

The French rulers have gone to great lengths to put a human face on their new UN mandate to shed African blood. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, an African, made the appeal for French intervention. Paris has tried to assure the governments of Rwanda and Uganda, who back the opposition to the Congo regime and are wary of the presence of French troops on their borders, that the French intervention will be limited to Congo's eastern provinces and will end in September. In addition, Chirac demagogically postured as caring for millions of impoverished Africans, stating that “closing the wealth gap” between Africa and other countries was his top priority.

What imperialist hypocrisy! Paris—along with Washington, London, Brussels, and Lisbon—is among the principal exploiters of the African toilers, responsible for deepening this “wealth gap.”

The French rulers, however, face a growing challenge from their American competitors in Africa. Strengthening Washington's standing in Africa is the real aim of the Bush administration's “Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief” and former U.S. president William Clinton's “Africa Growth and Opportunity Act,” which was recently extended by Congress. U.S. oil firms are aggressively competing for control of oil exploration, processing, and marketing in a number of African nations.

Willing to let Paris do the dirty work in Congo, Washington even used its influence to pressure African countries in the region to accept the intervention by French troops. The U.S. rulers want to leave open the option to intervene under the guise of “fixing things up” if the French troops can't “do the job.” Washington has used that tactic effectively, and repeatedly, in Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

The slaughter of an estimated 3 million civilians in the five-year-long civil war is being used as the cover for the deployment of French troops to Congo. The imperialist powers have engaged in an obscene competition of breast beating over the “failure” to act to stop the deaths of millions during the Rwanda civil war.

But the roots of the fratricidal wars throughout Africa lie in the legacy of colonial rule and imperialist exploitation. The borders of African nations were drawn and redrawn based on the interests of the colonial powers—often dividing Africans who shared the same lands, language, and customs for thousands of years. These divisions were reinforced by granting privileges to one group against the other as part of their divide-and-rule tactics. This legacy remains a source of conflict and an obstacle to workers and farmers who oppose imperialist domination.

To join the fight to overcome these divisions and unite workers and farmers against the legacy of colonial rule and imperialist domination working people should call for the cancellation of Africa's foreign debt, oppose the deployment of French troops, and demand: All imperialist troops out of Congo and the rest of Africa now!