In June 2013, Russ Feingold, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, was appointed U.S. special envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes. His mission: to end the civil war that has long engulfed the region. Doing diplomacy in a place few Americans can find on a map is an odd career choice for a politician best known for his liberal politics and his decade-long crusade, along with Republican Sen. John McCain, to reform the way politicians raise and spend money. But quietly, Feingold had also established himself as an authority on Africa.
In late January 2014, Feingold led an American delegation across Congo. He met with civil society members, local government officials, human rights researchers and UN peacekeepers. The goal, broadly speaking, was help to get the Congolese government to start acting like a state. Only when the government gains control over, and legitimacy in, eastern Congo will there be a chance for permanent peace.