U.S. Apathy Paved the Way for China in Africa – by Howard W. French (Foreign Policy – May 22, 2023)


Despite a strong foothold during the Cold War, Washington has since fumbled on the continent.

In April 1997, toward the end of the protracted demise of the United States’ longtime Cold War client Mobutu Sese Seko, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, flew to the capital of what was then called Zaire to try to persuade the besieged dictator to step down.

As I stood outside the drawing room of the palace where Mobutu and Richardson met in the morning, an aide to Richardson sidled up to me and whispered an invitation in my ear. If I, as the New York Times bureau chief for the region, would like to fly with them to the southern city of Lubumbashi to meet Laurent Kabila, the rebel leader whose Rwanda-backed forces were taking over Zaire, I should walk toward Richardson’s parked motorcade and stand there and stand by, not saying a word to anyone.

In the golden sunshine late that same afternoon, I was aboard Richardson’s jet as it approached Lubumbashi low over the surrounding scrubland and landed. The ongoing civil war had long ago interrupted commercial air traffic into Zaire’s second largest city, but Lubumbashi sits in the heart of the mining region of a country so richly endowed in minerals that it has been called a geological scandal, and because of this there was hardly any space to park on the airport’s aprons.

In anticipation of Kabila’s victory, which indeed did not lie far into the future, private jets that had flown in the executives of Western mining companies seeking new deals for themselves occupied almost every spot.

For the rest of this article: https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/05/22/congo-mining-batteries-china-biden-climate-change-us-africa-policy/