Drawing on newly declassified documents, the author argues in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs that U.S. interference in Congo in the 1960s was far more extensive and toxic than previously thought—and that Lawrence Devlin, the CIA station chief in the country, played an important role in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the democratically elected prime minister.

“We now know that even though the threat of communism in Congo was quite weak at the time of Congo’s independence, the CIA engaged in pervasive political meddling and paramilitary action between 1960 and 1968 to ensure that the country retained a pro-Western government and to help its pathetic military on the battlefield,” Weissman writes. Congo is still reeling from the effects. “Ever since the CIA’s intervention, Congo’s leaders have been distinguished by a unique combination of qualities: scant political legitimacy, little capacity for governing, and corruption so extensive that it devours institutions and norms. In the years following U.S. covert action, these qualities led to economic disaster, recurrent political instability, and Western military intervention.”

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