Current Magazine

Obama’s African War: US Enters Fight to End Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army

Posted on the 24 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Gun making CAR

Villagers making a gun in the CAR's Haut Mbomou province to defend themselves against the LRA. Photo Credit: ENOUGHProject,

The LRA have killed tens of thousands of villagers and civilians, abducted around 70,000 civilians and displaced millions since the group’s founding in 1987. According to LRA Crisis Tracker, the website of San Diego, California-based activism group Invisible Children (IC), the group is now only some 250-strong thanks to a Ugandan army operation which begun in 2004. The Ugandans, however, succeeded in pushing them out of Uganda and into a California-sized area of jungle between the South Sudan, the Congo and the CAR where they continue to commit atrocities (notably rape and the use of “brainwashed” child soldiers) disproportionate to their size.

The conflict with the LRA was recently dramatized in the (increasingly discredited) film Machine Gun Preacher and aid groups such as IC have been pressing the US government to take action for many years, but some critics are wondering whether Obama’s aid to the country is completely bona fide.

“An American invasion of the African continent is under way”. John Pilger of The New Statesman asserted that America has long supported brutal regimes in Africa, and wondered why they should suddenly care about what the LRA is doing. He found the question of “national security” laughable in this case and argued that the US is giving $45 million in aid to Uganda’s “president-for-life” Yoweri Museveni to wipe out Somali al-Shabaab Islamists. The main reason for this intervention is “paranoia” about China’s expansion in Africa, contested Pilger.

Obama has sent “a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda … no, I’m not kidding” asserted American conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio show. (In fact, the LRA practise an obscure mysticism that draws from Christianity among other sources. It seems the word “Lord” confused Limbaugh.)

Obama’s 100 man force might not be enough. In an article critical of the Ugandan army’s handing of the LRA, The Economist’s Baobab column posited: “Barack Obama may well hesitate to send more than this limited force if his Republican opponents continue to seize on the issue to criticise him for embarking on what they say is another reckless foreign adventure.”

The US will play an essential role against “a brutal rebel group”. The Washington Post has been pretty gung-ho about the whole issue, supporting Obama’s action in this editorial, as has The Wall Street Journal, which publishing this column by activist and actress Mia Farrow and Human Rights activist John Prendergast. In their piece, Farrow and Prendergast told the stories of victims of the LRA and asserted that “With U.S. troops on the ground, President Obama has the credibility to ask African and other nations to contribute troops”; indeed, with US troops on the ground “it shouldn’t take long” to bring justice to Kony and to deactivate the child soldiers, they argued.

Financially viable. “Neutralizing the LRA is worth the minimal cost to the US Treasury”, opined Bloomberg Business Week, as the country already spends “tens of millions of dollars every year” in humanitarian aid to LRA victims. Besides, they argue, it’s “the decent thing for Americans to do.”

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog