Congo: The benefit of the doubt has expired

Anyone who knows anything about Cold War politics, knows the CIA had a hand in Lumumba's murder. The only difference now is that it's been proven.

A captured Patrice Lumumba, on 6 December 1960, one month before he was murdered.

Here’s what we know now: The Eisenhower administration wrongly cast Patrice Lumumba as a proponent of Soviet ideology; the CIA provided Joseph Mobutu with the support he needed for a military coup; CIA Station Chief in the Congo, Larry Devlin, was a dirty scoundrel; and a 1975 U.S. Senate committee (The Church Committee) investigated U.S. involvement in Lumumba’s murder but failed to uncover incriminating evidence due to inattention to detail.

This “new” declassified information from the Church Committee and more is analyzed in a recent article by political scientist, Stephen Weissman, in the academic journal, Intelligence and National Security, vol. 25, no. 2. This article is not available for free, but Weissman gives a fair amount of details in a great guest column for  Weismann’s conclusion: “There can no longer be any doubt that the U.S., Belgian and Congolese governments shared major responsibility for the assassination of Lumumba in Katanga. The young prime minister was an imperfect leader during an unprecedented and overwhelming international crisis. But he continues to be honored around the world because he incarnated – if only for a moment – the nationalist and democratic struggle of the entire African continent against a recalcitrant West.”

My first thought is: Duh. Anyone who knows anything about Cold War politics, knows the CIA had a hand in Lumumba’s murder. The only difference now is that it’s been proven.

In 2002, the Belgian government admitted partial responsibility for his death, now it’s time for the other half to fess up. But I’d have to agree with a friend of mine when she says “when pigs fly.” Unfortunately, for the United States to admit responsibility for covert Cold War operations may suggest that such despicable operations are taking place during the War on Terror – and that just won’t do.

Further Reading

The skeleton in the closet

The novelist Nadifa Mohamed complicates Britain’s troubled, racist legal history through the personal tale of one otherwise insignificant person, a Somali immigrant to Cardiff in Wales.

Life to the sound of gunfire

Nigerians fleeing extremist violence at home take refuge across the border in Niger among an already fragile population. Together they proceed to carve out a way to live better lives for now.

Democraticizing money

Cameroonian economist Joseph Tchundjang Pouemi died in 1984, either poisoned or by suicide. His ideas about the international monetary system and the CFA franc are worth revisiting.