Perhaps that’s an infelicitous metaphor given the ersatz currency of severed human hands that developed in the “Congo Free State” under the nightmarish, dystopian rule of its owner, the Belgian king, Leopold II, but it’s what these scholars seem to be suggesting without exactly saying it.
Your Volgi is not an Africanist, but he tries to at least follow events on the “Dark Continent,” and the First and Second Congo Wars probably should sound the death knell for Congo-Kinshasa as a unified entity. The Second Congo War, as the largest and deadliest land war since WWII, completely devastated the country and established foreign-dominated military zones within it, as well as significant areas where no government is in control. The UN could do worse than to partition the D.R. Congo, keeping a rump state around Kinshasa, and send in massive numbers of peacekeeping troops (with authorization to use lethal force to quell disturbances), and set about rebuilding the basic infrastructure of the region. Ordinarily the African Union would be the best body to send troops, but given that virtually all the combatants with clashing interests are members of the AU, there’d likely be political paralysis. Still, if the Moroccans, Ethiopians, South Africans, et al., wanted to give it a shot, they should be encouraged. The on-going human toll is so horrendous extraordinary means may be necessary.
Jonah Goldberg has half-facetiously called for the recolonization of parts of Africa, and crises like this make his point more serious: if local forces lead to atrocities like the Second Congo War, isn’t in everyone’s interest—the locals’ most of all—that an outside force facilitates the establishment of order and reconstruction? No one wishes to reestablish some sort of racist hegemony over Africa, but if our global institutions won’t address real crises like the disintegration of Congo-Kinshasa or Darfur (while ginning up whole conferences to denounce Israel), we have to wonder what good they really are to the world’s poorest, most oppressed peoples.