In an excellent article in today’s New York Times, the first details have emerged on military aid given by the U.S. government to the Ugandan government late last year. The American aim, personally approved by President George Bush, was to kill Joseph Kony and crush the last remnants of the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army, which for decades has killed and abused innocent civilians in the far-North section of Uganda. The U.S. government has long been asked to assist in the capture of Kony. As the Times details, the latest military operation against him was at least partly designed by the U.S. — and, in failing, left vulnerable civilians to vicious counter-attack, a Kony “speciality.”
The question is now whether, under a new U.S. administration, the Pentagon should try again to help the Uganan armed forces get Kony?
President Obama should consider assisting the Ugandans in another attempt to crush Kony and the LRA. Kony after all has been indicted by a U.N. court for war crimes and is undeniably responsible for horrific crimes, particular against children. Yet the Ugandans alone have failed to stop Kony for more than 20 years. The Times article didn’t mention one awful possibility that is widely discussed among elite Ugandans: that the goverment doesn’t wisah to halt Kony and his “rebels” because the pursuit of this bad character attracts enormous amounts of foreign aid. So in my kind of drama foretold by George Orwell, the Ugandan government and Kony stage a “phantom” war for the benefit of themselves (and the harm of many innocents).
The contradictions have been well documented in Kampala’s Monitor newspaper. One example should convey the extent of them: the government pays for the upkeep of Kony’s mother, so that he can feel he is at least doing right by her. The tactic, according to the government, is to encourage Kony to surrender by showing him a kind of rough mercy.
Well, Kony hasn’t surrendered and now even the government doesn’t believe in its mercy strategy either.