August 21, 2012 by soniauwimana
I think it might be actually literally impossible to research any Westerner involved even at a few paces removed from the DRC without bumping into Jason Stearns a few moments into the exercise. Fair enough, he is influential…..but, you know, at what point does it become a little…sort of creepy?
Most recently I was digging into who might have been behind this innocuous grandstanding letter from 11 United States Congressional representatives complaining about Rwanda’s support for M….I can’t bring myself to complete the sentence. Yawn.
Anyway, getting 11 Congressmen to sign a letter is not nearly as hard as it may appear. Apart from giving speeches and raising campaign funds, signing letters is pretty much what these politicians do for a living, And given the diversity of the US Congress — the House of Reps has 435 members and there are 100 Senators — it is a fair bet you could find 11 of them to agree on just about anything. That is six fewer than the 17 who believe that President Obama was born in Kenya! Only 48 percent of them believe in evolution, for god’s sake. Or Darwin’s sake, whichever you prefer.
So the letter is unremarkable except for this. It almost certainly emanated from the office of Jim McDermott, a Democratic veteran from Washington State, who is by far the most vocal pro-Congo voice in the Congress. This in turn is the product of his longstanding legislative aide, Mr Toby Whitney who is literally obsessed with the subject. No surprises, then, that McDermott and Whitney have drunk the Kool-Aid on the Rwandaphobia front.
And, sadly, what you can witness for yourself above is not surprising either.
It is a notice for a panel discussion on conflict minerals held at Yale University on November 12, 2010.
So yes…McDermott’s Congo activist staffer Toby Whitney, the ubiquitous Jason K Stearns and….you guessed it…none other than Mr Steven Hege, coordinator of the Group of Experts responsible for assaulting Rwanda’s reputation of late and noted FDLR fancier.
BTW, take a look at the sponsors…the New Haven Congo Alliance blog would suggest that the organization does not really exist in any meaningful sense. It comprises entirely of recycled Jason Stearns blog posts and links to pro-Congo, anti-Rwanda websites. The other co-organiser A.C.T. for Congo has a Facebook page with fewer than 30 likes. Another fake group by the look of it. Dear, oh dear.
Not suggesting any wrongdoing or corruption here, but this cabal of Congo carers gets curioser and curioser.
Twitter Handle: @UwimanaSonia