Before the crisis in the Congo, the Cold War’s hotspots were confined to places near one or both of the superpowers: Iran, Berlin, Korea, Hungary, and so on. But in Congo, the United States and the Soviet Union were facing off in a country that was far away from both of them. Of course, it turned out that the Soviets were far less interested in the country than the Americans were. The most important effect of U.S. meddling was to install Joseph Mobutu — later Mobutu Sese Seko — as the country’s leader. His September 1960 coup was supported and arranged by the CIA, which then went on to have a long relationship with him. So many of the DRC’s current troubles can be traced back to the devastation caused by Mobutu’s long, terrible rule.