It’s so great to see former Sen. Russ Feingold is continuing to serve our nation years after leaving office.

Feingold found his new diplomatic role immensely satisfying, in part because the obscurity of eastern Congo prevented the issue from turning partisan and in part because the stakes seemed so high. “I was involved in some exciting negotiations in the Senate, but this felt more real,” he said. “If you’re negotiating something in the Senate, maybe you get it through committee after you’ve negotiated it. Maybe it gets through the Senate. Maybe it gets through the House. Maybe the president signs it. It doesn’t have that feeling of immediacy of when you walk in a room and you talk to the M23, and you say, ‘Are you gonna agree to this or not?’”

The answer, it turned out, was no. The two sides couldn’t agree on which top rebel commanders would receive amnesty—and many believed the rebels were just using the negotiations to buy time for a final military offensive. The talks collapsed, and early on the morning of Oct. 25, the fighting resumed in North Kivu, with Congolese artillery, backstopped by U.N. helicopters, squeezing the rebels from the north, west and south.That same day, Kerry phoned Kagame and told him that Rwanda needed to sit this round of fighting out. By this point, Kagame was no longer getting mixed messages from the United States, and the Congolese army and the Intervention Brigade were performing surprisingly well, so Kagame at last decided to pull the plug on the M23. According to the Congo expert Jason Stearns, Rwandan officers simply stopped returning M23 leaders’ calls.

Before sunrise on Nov. 5, on hilltops near the Ugandan border, the Congolese army delivered the coup de grâce to the M23.Feingold was in Pretoria, South Africa, for a regional summit. Brennan Gilmore got word that the M23 had just formally renounced its rebellion, and he whispered the news to Feingold, who broke it to the assembled reporters.

The substance of a final deal was soon worked out. The M23 would demobilize and transform itself into a political party, and the government would free rebel prisoners and undertake certain reforms. At one point, the M23 negotiators sought to revisit provisions requiring members to sign pledges against rebellion, but Feingold, in his words, “blew the whistle,” convincing the M23 representatives not to backtrack. “That to me was a critical moment,” he said. On Nov. 11—the anniversary of the day World War I ended, he remembered noting with pleasure—he and the other envoys arrived at Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s official residence in Kampala for the 4 p.m. signing ceremony. “The M23s at one table, observers from all over the world, ambassadors—it was like a beautiful party,” Feingold recalls. Then, dingdingding: “The president awaits your attendance for the signing of the agreement.”

I’d encourage you all to read the rest of POLITICO Magazine’s article. It’s long, but well worth the read.

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