Kony 2012, or Phony 2012?
“[S]uperficial focus on the activities of one man and a few of his commanders largely sidesteps the point.”
I did not want to be so cynical about the wave of slacktivism that took over the online youth only a few months ago, but the Ugandan People’s Defence Force has committed (and still does commit) atrocities just as awful and devastating as the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Additionally, the humanitarian situation in Democratic Republic of Congo is a much more serious and wide-scale problem; with an estimated 4-8 million dead since 1998, half of these being under the age of 5. Where is their viral internet campaign? Or their NATO ‘no-fly-zone’ and humanitarian emergency forces?
More importantly, as Allen et al. have noted in Foreign Affairs, the mission does not focus on any sort of civilian protection, and the first two missions failed, leading to brutal retaliation by the LRA on the local civilian populous. The LRA are only a small symptom of a much larger and more destructive problem. Bringing Kony to justice, although noble, will do little to solve the political, social, and economic problems in the region. Nor will it stop his army from forming their own (just as destructive) rebel forces — if he is killed. The final three paragraphs sum up the issues perfectly:
“Beyond the ins and outs of dealing with Kony, the political challenges in the region are simply too massive for Obama’s new operation to yield much fruit. The violence in Uganda, Congo, and South Sudan has been the most devastating — anywhere in the world — since the mid-1990s. Even conservative estimates place the death toll in the millions. And the LRA is, in fact, a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence. If Kony is removed, LRA fighters will join other groups or act independently.
Until the underlying problem — the region’s poor governance — is adequately dealt with, there will be no sustainable peace. Seriously addressing the suffering of central Africans would require engagement of a much larger order. A huge deployment of peacekeeping troops with a clearly recognized legal mandate would have to be part of it. Those forces would need to be highly trained, have an effective command structure, be closely monitored, and be appropriately equipped with sophisticated surveillance equipment and helicopters, among other things. It would require a long-term commitment and would be targeted not only at chasing the LRA. Moreover, it would make the protection of the local populations a key priority. Finally, the deployment of such a force would need to have emerged from concerted efforts in international diplomacy — including with the African Union, the United Nations, the ICC, and governments in the region — not as a knee-jerk reaction to the most recent media splash.
Kony and his colleagues lead a dreadful but relatively small organization that punches above its weight. If achieving stability and relative prosperity in this blighted region of Africa is the real objective, devoting the month of November to the LRA will obviously not be anything like enough.”
Further reading and watching: