Understanding wars on democracy and U.S. interventions in Central Africa

A book is fanned open
A book is fanned open
Justin Podur
Justin Podur

A new book written by Justin Podur, an associate professor at York University and associate dean, teaching and learning, in the Faculty of Environmental studies, discusses the concepts of African development, democracy, genocide and foreign policy in the context of the Democratic Republic (DR) of the Congo and Rwanda.

Published in June, America’s Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) examines U.S. interventions in two countries whose post-independence histories are inseparable.

Podur analyzes the U.S. campaigns to prevent Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from turning the DR Congo into a sovereign, democratic, prosperous republic on a continent where America’s ally, apartheid South Africa, was hegemonic.

America's Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo
America’s Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo

The book explains the United States’ role and effectiveness in establishing democracy in African countries by exploring the installation of Mobutu to keep the region under neo-colonial control, as well as America’s pre-emption of the Africa-wide movement for multiparty democracy in the 1990s through their support of current President Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front.

“The only way to understand Central Africa is through the lens of neocolonialism,” Podur said. “By depriving the people of the DR Congo and Rwanda of sovereignty and imposing a series of wars and dictators on the region, the Western powers have deprived these countries of sovereignty.”

The author of two previous books – Siegebreakers in 2019 and Haiti’s New Dictatorship in 2012 – Podur has developed a research program on political conflicts, focused on parts of the world where he has traveled and worked as a journalist and translator.

Podur believes too much of the scholarship and journalism about Africa is about justifying neocolonialism, and wrote this book in part as a critique of the failures of Western scholarship on Africa.

America’s Wars on Democracy in Rwanda and the DR Congo is available for purchase online.