Yesterday, a grass roots campaign initiated by the non-profit Invisible Children flooded the internet. Kony 2012 is a campaign by Invisible Children to bring awareness to Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army, a militant group that operates in central Africa.
The first time I learned of Kony was when I was studying Rwanda in college. I was surprised when he hit the news last fall when President Obama announced that he was sending 100 military advisors (soldiers) to Uganda. Michele Bachmann even waffled on a question about it in one of the presidential debates. Rush Limbaugh even attacked Obama on the move last October.
So I was really surprised when Kony's name started appearing on my Facebook newsfeed out of the blue yesterday. Invisible Children produced a documentary that showed the horrific condition Kony and the LRA brought upon the people of Uganda and the surrounding regions. A lot of my friends were responding very positively to the documentary, which was very emotional, very well produced, and had the immediate goal of raising awareness of the horrible situation in central Africa.
The long-term goal of Invisible Children in all of this was to gather up enough support to be able to adequately pressure the United States to continue its military interventionism in Uganda. The purpose of this goal is for America to increase its military involvement in Africa in order to destroy the LRA and Kony.
Invisible Children and its campaign have already been critiqued and questioned, and Invisible Children has issued a decent response to those criticisms, in regards to the documentary. But regardless of how Invisible Children uses its funds, their association with Kony's violent enemies, the emotional manipulation of the documentary, and the lack of real change this perpetuates*, this goal needs to be criticized.
The basic premise of Invisible Children's campaign is to get the United States to intervene militarily in another country. As mentioned on this site before, that is against everything a government should be in its purpose and should do as its actions. The government of the United States exists to protect the people of the United States, just as the governments of Uganda and the Central African Republic exist to protect their own citizens.
Yes, Joseph Kony and the IRA are horrific people that need to be brought to justice. Yes, their actions are horridly evil and reprehensible. It is a great sign that so many people have become outraged over this. But it is not appropriate for the American government to send its military into Africa to route this militant.
And that's before practical considerations are taken account. It's almost as if Americans don't remember how many years, soldiers, and American lives it took to kill Osama bin Laden. Or the disaster that our military advisors faced in Vietnam. Or when evil men like Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, or Muammar Gaddafi were killed, only to be followed by violence, terror, and loss of liberty. Kony is not a dictator like those men were, but let's not be so rash as to believe that the military forces of Congo, Rwanda, and South Sudan, which have been unable to defeat Kony after 25 years, will suddenly be able to maintain peace and dignity after he's brought to justice.
Have we learned nothing from the quagmire and failure that is the War in Afghanistan?
As one commentator put it, it might be a better idea for Invisible Children to take the $13 million dollars they have budgeted into raising awareness and pressure on the American government and put a $13 million bounty on Kony's head instead. Or funding a high speed private army to go in and kill him. But apparently it's easier to produce emotional documentaries pleading for the United States to send it s soldiers into the heart of Africa. Soldiers who pledged to defend this country, to defend the Constitution, and lay their lives for their fellow Americans. How insulting to the American troops can you get?
Joseph Kony and the LRA need to be brought to justice. But not by American military action.
*When people take part in a campaign like Kony 2012 by donating a few bucks to the cause or by posting information about it on Facebook, they tend to think they've done their part and don't have to do anymore. It does not help nearly as much as is intended.