But that's not the messed up part. The messed up part is who was behind it...
I decided to read up on the history of DR Congo to see what in the world happened to cause their unique situation. What I found began around 1960, during the height of the cold war. At that time, the Congo was controlled by Belgium, as it had been since 1908. This was a remnant of the history of the colonial empires, whereby almost all of Africa had been sliced up by different European nations (you'll recall that apartheid South Africa was controlled by the British, for example, and that British colonialism was also at the root of the beginnings of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict after they closed up shop and left abruptly). During WWII the United States got the uranium it needed for its nuclear bombs from the Belgian Congo, which was rich in the stuff.
The Belgians gave no political power to the Congolese people. The educated people there eventually started a campaign to end the inequality. Following some riots, the Congolese won legalization for their own political parties in 1959. In May 1960 they elected a President and a Prime Minister, and won independence by the end of June. In 1962, Belgium also granted neighboring Rwanda self-government, which it also controlled - thus leading to intense racial conflict between the native Hutu and Tutsis, after an abusive majority came to power.
Back in Congo, however, two provinces didn't like the situation and struggled to secede. In that disorder, a dispute broke out between the President and the Prime Minister. Now, the Prime Minister had previously appointed a man named Mobutu as chief of staff of the new Congo army. By 1965 Mobutu had garnered enough support within the army to take advantage of the leadership crisis and mount a coup against the democratically elected leaders. The President was overthrown and the Prime Minister assassinated. Mobutu renamed the nation Zaire, erected a one-party dictatorship with himself as Head of State and "father of the nation", and was accused of many human rights abuses and corruptions.
Mobutu conducted this military coup against that democracy with the financial backing of the United States (CIA) and Belgium.
As it was, Mobutu was against communism and leftist ideas. He would therefore allow U.S. companies to export the natural resources of Zaire without worrying about environmental, labor, or other regulations. Belgium would also retain mining rights for copper and diamonds.
Now we skip ahead to the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The U.S. decides that Mobutu is no longer a necessary ally and relations cool. Without that backing, Mobutu's opponents inside Zaire begin to step up demands for reform. Mobutu conducted a lot of 'fake reforms' supposedly to be democratic, but were more cosmetic than anything else. Finally in 1997 a rebellion forced Mobutu to flee Zaire, which was renamed back to the DR Congo.
Since 1994, DR Congo has been waylaid by ethic strife and civil war, with its society virtually collapsed. There was also the genocide in neighboring Rwanda, which has resulted in a massive inflow of refugees. The current president, Joseph Kabila, in 2006 became the first Congolese President to be democratically elected by universal direct suffrage (meaning, everyone can vote regardless of race, gender, etc). I read he's trying to implement reforms to combat the malnutrition crisis but we'll see. Kabila is also working with the World Bank in an effort to improve the economy. But here's at least one point of view on the World Bank (from Wikipedia)...
"Corporatocracy is also used by John Perkins in his 2004 book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to describe a system of governance controlled by "big corporations, international banks, and government" (Perkins / Plume paperback edition, 94). Harking back to the "military-industrial complex," Perkins claims the corporatocracy is manifested in the following cycle: the World Bank issues loans to developing nations to pay for large-scale development projects; contracts are then doled out to a handful of American engineering firms; as a result, these countries become ensnared in a net of interest payments and debts they cannot repay. American corporations benefit through increased profits, and the U.S. government benefits through securing its political clout and control over developing countries with vast natural resources. According to Perkins, the majority of people in those countries do not benefit since a large portion of their country's budget goes toward servicing the national debt instead of improving living conditions."
If this is correct, then it could be that the Congo is still the pawn of the U.S., in an even more subtle scheme.
I'm also actually a supporter of capitalism (although not completely Laissez-faire). However I'm not sure that being opposed to mega-corporate rule is inconsistent with that. It could be that such notions as the international mega-corporation are actually contrary to real capitalism.
Three interesting thoughts:
1) Much of the current problems in the world we are paying for today can be traced back, not only to the cold war and ww2, but to 18-19th Century European colonialism.
2) Was the cold war really about the evil Soviet empire that wanted to invade the U.S. and make us all wait in line for toilet paper? Or was it more about stoking that fear for the sake of expanding opportunities for U.S. corporations?
3) Could it be that as far back as the economic buildup after WW2 which catapulted us to superpower status, we've been a de facto Corporatocracy and didn't even realize it?
4) How much of what goes on today with U.S. international policy is about stoking fear for the sake of serving the interest of our corporate oligarchy? 100% maybe?
I'm not one to use the propaganda tactic of making unsubstantiated claims, about things I really already believe for certain, in the form of questions. The above reflect real questions I'm actually wondering about.
 United Nations World Food Program Interactive Map [link]
 Wikipedia article on DR Congo [link] (other connected articles also used)
 Wikipedia article on Corporatocracy [link]