Henry Kissinger has come under withering outrage for volunteering to his famously anti-Semitic boss these words of realpolitik concerning the emigration of persecuted Soviet Jews to Israel:
And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.
How horrible, we think. But we don’t think about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
What does that have to do with anything? Everything.
Nearly five and a half million people have died in the Congo’s ongoing civil war. And no, this isn’t just about war casualities. It is a crime of world-historical proportions: more than 200,000 women raped, forcible recruitment of child soldiers, and continuing atrocities committed by all sides and particularly the Orwellian-named “Lord’s Resistance Army.” If you are talking about numbers of people slaughtered, Congo puts Darfur to shame. I’m proud to say that the American Jewish World Service, with which I’ve been involved for a while, supports several human rights organizations there, but the security and human rights situation is so bad there that AJWS can’t even list them on its website for fear of brutal and violent reprisals.
And what has been the American official response to this monstrous disaster? Yawn. Is it ignoring the popular will? Hardly. Most Americans don’t know and don’t care about what is happening in this far-away place about which we know little. And why? It’s not really regarded as being central to US vital national interests. It’s not a principal national security concern. I recently discovered that here at RBC “Human Rights” is listed as an “older thread.” Yawn again.
In other words, the ongoing atrocities in the Congo aren’t really an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern.
So maybe there is some justification for the attacks on Kissinger. But perhaps it’s time to press the pause button on the self-righteousness and look in the mirror.