Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Bit of the Wild, Wild West? You've Got to Be Kidding.

Yesterday, the WSJ ran an article about the acquisition by a mining firm known as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. of another such firm, Phelps Dodge. Freeport-McMoRan has extensive experience in carrying on a successful mining business in Indonesia, "churning out metals amid insurrections and political turmoil." Phelps Dodge has been struggling with its mining operations in the Congo. The question is whether Freeport-McMoRan will be able to transfer its management skills "halfway around the world to the Congo". The question "will help determine whether its $25.55 billion bid for Phelps Dodge Corp. is a long-term success."

But what I found arresting about the article is not the acquisition news, but what it said about the Congo:

Nearly five million people have died in the Congo, home to the largest current U.N. peacekeeping force, in the past six years from war and war-related famine and disease, says Philippe de Pontet, a country-risk analyst for the Eurasia Group. On top of security issues, fear of corruption has kept Western countries away from Congo, he says. "It's a bit of the wild, wild West," he says.

Nearly five million people have died? That's incredible. Western Civ is still dealing with the loss of "six million Jews" 65 years ago (as it should, along with the other, forgotten millions slaughtered by the Nazis). Did you know about this? And we attend to it by having the UN there?

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