Affleck, Amanpour & Congo

Christiane Amanpour hosted a show on the DR Congo today, with myself, Ben Affleck and human right activist Sylvie Maunga as guests. The story behind the show was that Affleck launched his Eastern Congo Initiative today, so they used it as a hook to talk about the country. The producers themselves were a bit cynical about their business (as they should be), and Amanpour even said that “it takes a celebrity to bring these issues to our attention.” Those who read this blog will be a familiar with my skepticism about celebrity activism, but Ben handled himself well on the show and was humble.

Quite in contrast to yours truly. I got a bit excited when Amanpour talked about Hillary Clinton giving $17 million to victims of sexual violence in the Congo while the US has done almost nothing on more meaningful institutional reform (OK, they are training one battalion). And I meant to call her gesture “window dressing,” but somehow it came out as “propaganda.”

There go my chances to get a job in the Obama administration.

All in all, a good show, although it always extremely frustrating to scratch the surface, give your few sound bites and leave it at that. Such is TV. I would have liked to have been on hand for the previous week’s show, when Amanpour quizzed Kagame on the elections and the Congo – but there, too, it was frustrating to not be able really to get into the issues. Both that show and yesterday’s show are on Amanpour’s website under “podcasts.”