And I'm back in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a week.
So I was doing a little bit of research on US assistance to the Congo. There's actually a longish history -- we've been sending various forms of aid here for nearly sixty years now -- so it seemed worth at least checking to see whether anyone else had already attempted what we're trying to do. I didn't get a firm answer on that, but and I did run across some mildly interesting old documents from the 1970s.
A bit of background for those of you who aren't history nerds: from 1962 to 1997, the Congo -- renamed "Zaire" -- was run by a dictator named Mobutu Sese Seko. Mobutu ran his country into the ground. At the end of his term, Congo was poorer than it had been when he took power, 35 years earlier. 16 years after he was chased out of power, the country is still suffering the consequences of his misrule; Congo remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
But whatever else you can say about Mobutu, he was very, very good at getting money and military assistance from the US. He was a major aid recipient for three decades, give or take. Why? Well, mostly because he was very good at gaming our fear of Communism and its spread in Africa.
Anyway. These are from "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-76, Volume E-6, Documents on Africa, 1973-76. I think, taken together, they tell a story. Maybe not interesting to anyone but a fellow history nerd, but what the hey.