America is in the middle of a presidential election cycle. Issues of vital importance to the country right now are domestic: gas prices, the economy and the jobs market.
However, another campaign is buzzing in America where the goal isn’t to elect a government official. It is to arrest a war criminal in Uganda, a warlord by the name of Joseph Kony.
The slogan? Kony 2012. It’s simple, Americanized and marketable.
Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group in Uganda that displaces children, forces them into slavery and regularly kills civilians for power and influence. Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court and is the number one man on their list of most wanted for crimes against humanity.
Filmmaker Jason Russell of Invisible Children recently released a 30-minute video detailing a way to “bring Kony to justice,” or to arrest him. The video calls for a global awareness campaign that culminates in a national red-eye flash mob that will plaster posters of Kony in every major city via signs, billboards and social networking sites.
I have to admit, watching the movie made me want to go online and buy one of their “Action Kits” and sport the serialized wristband. It was after I was in the online checkout section of the Kony2012.com website that I took a step back and decided to recheck my research and reassess my prerogatives.
If you watch the video, outside of superb video editing, you will find that Russell sites a “Most Wanted” list where Joseph Kony of Uganda is at the top for crimes against humanity. Interestingly enough, the number two man on that list is also from Uganda, yet there isn’t a campaign by the sponsor group Invisible Children to stop him.
The second problem with the Kony 2012 campaign is that it has announced a timetable of one year. Kony 2012 is like an election year; it has an end date. After 2012 is over, Invisible Children will cease efforts in the United States to have Kony arrested. That’s not something a target should be made aware of.
The next question I had was how the United States should be involved. The United States currently has 100 Army personnel in Uganda acting as “advisors” for the Ugandan military. The ironic part about involvement and support of the Ugandan Army by Invisible Children is that they also have a history of exploiting children for violence.
In a voiceover part of the video, Russell makes the comment that “Uganda is relatively safe.” In fact, Foreign Policy ran a substantive feature in 2008 detailing Kony’s crumbling support to only a “couple hundred.”
Awareness and action with the problems in the African continent are consistently on the backburner of legislative policy. There is a reason for this, as well as precedent.
Former President George W. Bush signed off on more bills that granted humanitarian and financial support to Africa than any other president in U.S. history. President Bush is even a proponent of the Kony 2012 campaign.
Despite eight years of support from the world’s hegemon, most of central Africa remains a fragmented series of war zones and poverty. Dozens of warlords have been killed in dueling tribes only to be replaced by equally motivated despots. Unfortunately, that is the vicious nature of these third-world states.
The only realistic solution to solving Africa’s problems is conducting a massive joint-United Nations venture involving 100,000-plus multinational combat troops with a ten-year plan to overthrow despotic regimes and replace them with stable, centralized governments.
Sound plausible? I didn’t think so.
Instead, Uganda and other central African countries will need to continue to rely on small-sized, micro-humanitarian missions from wherever they can get it.
Stopping one man who has lost his support base in the region will not do anything except allow for violent tryouts to replace him. Rather than devote resources to a broken region, President Obama or the GOP nominee will need to focus on the real issues Americans care about to get elected: gas prices, jobsxs and the economy.
View the Kony2012 video here: http://www.kony2012.com/