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The Congo War was a Cold War conflict which took place in Central Africa particularly the Congo, during the 1960s and 70's involving the political alignment of the newly independent Kongo which had previously been a colony of Belgium. While essentially a Civil War the conflict spilled over into its neighbors and invited the intervention of world powers. The Soviet Union backed the rising Simba movement which took the hearts and minds of the rural countryside. While originally the Simbas were motivated by traditional African mythology, Communist advisors from other countries brought the movement firmly in the Soviet camp. Meanwhile, the United States, and the Empire of Japan intervened frantically to first crush the Simbas, and then to protect a Non-Communist Kongolese rump state that disintegrated in 1970.

As the war began to be seen as a continuance of colonial struggle, the Communist Simbas eventually prevailed throughout the entire country by 1975. In the final years, the war was seen by Congolese and Western spectators was as a 'race war', though this was always denied by Anti-Communist governments. In the United States anti-war sentiment collaborated with the Civil Rights Movement and Black Nationalist efforts. For the modern-day Communist Congo the war defines the extent and meaning of their nation. Their victory would lead to the escalation of nuclear tensions with South Africa, bringing the specter of nuclear war into the Southern Hemisphere.


In the western world, the Congo Wars send shock waves of confusion. The United States, despite its strongest efforts, was defeated by an African country. Furthermore, the war and its failure divided African Americans bitterly between those who supported the war, hoping it would bring greater acceptance at home, and those who sympathized with the Simbas. Some African Americans feeling pressure from both their community and European Americans to take a side simply tried to stay quiet without taking a side.

Overall the war, created racial tensions in the United States, coinciding with the Civil Rights and Black power movements which were occurring at the time. The remainder of the 20th century, in the aftermath of the chaos of the 60s and 70s was a time of healing for the American people. Major social activists attempted to reconcile the differences within the United States, and point to a more hopeful harmonious future. The decline in racial resentment, at the end of the Cold War, was ultimately remarkable for its ability to focus on the positive motives of the major players of the 20th century, whether it was white and black soldiers fighting together or those who took common cause in civil disobedience.

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