Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nick Kristof has another column out this week on the DRC, highlighting the role of "conflict minerals" in the ongoing violence.

I’ve never reported on a war more barbaric than Congo’s, and it haunts me. In Congo, I’ve seen women who have been mutilated, children who have been forced to eat their parents’ flesh, girls who have been subjected to rapes that destroyed their insides. Warlords finance their predations in part through the sale of mineral ore containing tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold. For example, tantalum from Congo is used to make electrical capacitors that go into phones, computers and gaming devices. 
This, sadly, is true: the conflict in the DRC is horridly brutal and violent, and some of the belligerents do derive funding from mining these minerals.  Kudos to Kristof and the ENOUGH Project, under the leadership of John Prendergast, for calling attention to the horror unfolding daily.

Image: Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project


Unfortunately, the plaudits for their efforts end there, as their narrative of the conflict is one-dimensional and unrealistic.  Bringing pressure to bear on companies like Apple is a good thing, but it's nothing more than symbolic and will ultimately be impotent to halt, or even alter, the carnage in the Congo.  Kristof acknowledges that combating conflict minerals alone is insufficient,
It’s not that American tech companies are responsible for the slaughter, or that eliminating conflict minerals from Americans’ phones will immediately end the war. Even the Enough Project, an anti-genocide organization that has been a leading force in the current campaign, estimates that only one-fifth of the world’s tantalum comes from Congo.  “There’s no magic-bullet solution to peace in Congo,” notes David Sullivan of the Enough Project, “but this is one of the drivers of the conflict.” The economics of the war should be addressed to resolve it.
but he doesn't go far enough.  There are two problems with the notion that public pressure can change events.

First, as Kristof mentions, conflict minerals are not the main driving force behind the violence.

Monday, June 28, 2010

For those of you not addicted to the Telegraph and the BBC -- here's tomorrow's big news, tonight. It looks like the NYT are going to run with it in the morning, but we here at D&D have it now.

Take a read... and check back tomorrow for more news and analysis!

For now, here's the story (via the BBC)

For more background:
The Guardian

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