Nine years ago we wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine under the headline There Is No Congo, that the only way to help the about 78-million people in what is formally the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was "to stop pretending it exists". Since it was impossible for leaders in the capital Kinshasa to exercise authority over this vast central African country, "all of the peacekeeping missions, special envoys, interagency processes and diplomatic initiatives that are predicated on the Congo myth — the notion that one sovereign power is present in this vast country — are doomed to fail". Unfortunately, we were correct. The reasons for continual state failure in the DRC are, as always, complex and changing, but at the heart is the failure of the state to exercise authority over a country that encompasses most of Central Africa. To take only one telling indicator, Congo is four times the size of France but has fewer paved roads than Luxembourg. The result has been an ever-c...

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