Jason StearnsDec 28, 2022
Involution and Negative Equilibrium
Explaining the Ongoing Conflict in the Congo
New Books Network 2022
This week on International Horizons, RBI director John Torpey is joined by Jason Stearns, assistant professor of international studies at Simon Fraser University, who discusses how the Congolese government is invested in conflict on its territory. Stearns traces the current conflict back to the Belgian colonial heritage that created an ethnic disbalance in the population that was then exploited by the authoritarian leader, Mobutu Sese Seko, to maintain power. It later triggered the regional invasion of Congo in which the territory was divided between neighboring countries until the country was finally reunified in 2003. When former rebels lost power in a democratic process and tried to regain it through military means, neighboring countries scrambled to profit from extraction and influence. This left little incentive to put an end to the conflict, and forced the incumbent president to side with the military establishing a system of clientelistic networks in order to stay in power. Finally, Stearns comments on how aspects of this system can be seen in other countries, and how Congolese view the international attention on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in light of this ongoing conflict.