Behind Kony 2012 and Ugandan war criminals

Issue 
Founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. Photo via VisibleChildre

The Kony 2012 film, produced by the Invisible Children NGO, has gone viral over the internet. Viewed more than 14 million times, and widely hailed in the mainstream media, the film targets Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony for his crimes -- but backs forces in the Ugandan military guilty of similar crimes and supports US military intervention.

Articles are already appearing that counter the message and approach of the Kony 2012 film, as well the nature of Invisible Children. There is no doubt the huge support it has generated is based on a genuine desire to take action against a war criminal, but the issues behind the film, the backing of the Ugandan military and support for US intervention raise serious issues that cannot be ignored.

Green Leftis producing its own material on Uganda what is behind the Ugandan conflict as well as the Invisible Children campaign. However, below are points from three articles already produced that investigate these issues.

See also:
Kony campaign won't help Uganda
Who is KONY 2012 to start a war?

The New York-based Black Star News has produced an editorial responding to the film that investigates the situation in Uganda -- and the US interests at stake in escalating its military involvement in Africa.

Describing Kony 2012 as a "classic piece of propaganda", it writes: "Invisible Children's goals initially may have been to publicize the plight of children caught in Uganda's decades-long conflicts; lately, IC has been acting as apologists for General Yoweri K. Museveni's dictatorship and the U.S. goal to impose AFRICOM (the U.S. Africa Military Command) on Africa."

The editorial points out the film "doesn't inform viewers that Museveni abducted thousands of child soldiers to win his insurgency in Uganda in 1986, launching the pattern of child soldier recruitment all over Africa".

It says: "If Invisible Children was in fact a serious organization that has not been co-opted by the Museveni regime and the U.S. foreign policy agenda, the organization would inform the world that General Museveni, who has now stolen three elections in a row in Uganda is the first person who deserves to be arrested ...

"This Ugandan and East African nightmare gets a blank check from Washington simply because he has deployed Ugandan soldiers to Somalia at the behest of the United States. So democracy, human rights abuses, genocide, become minor nuisances as far as U.S. foreign policy goes and as far as Invisible Children cares.

"This is beyond hypocrisy ... Museveni does not care for the plight of children in Uganda's Acholi region. How else would he have herded 2 million Acholis in concentration camps for 20 years where, according to the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1,000 children, women and men died of planned neglect -- lack of medical facilities; lack of adequate food; dehydration, and; lack of sanitation and toilet facilities. Does this sound like a person who cares about children?

It writes: "These young folks who run Invisible Children are extremely dangerous to the welfare of Ugandans and other Africans should they succeed in broadening U.S. military presence in Africa.

"If the United States were truly interested purely in eliminating Kony why deploy now when Kony abandoned Uganda in 2006 when he was negotiating a peace deal that ultimately collapsed, with Museveni ...

"The U.S. government and Invisible Children are using the brutal Joseph Kony as a bogeyman to justify the U.S. long-term plan, which is to impose AFRICOM on Africa ... AFRICOM, the ultimate objective, would allow the U.S. to be able to counter resource-hungry China by having boots on the ground near the oil-rich northern part of Uganda, South Sudan, Congo's region bordering Lake Albert, and the Central African Republic."

It concludes: "Hopefully this commentary will motivate people to do their research and demand that the international community deal with both Kony and Museveni.

"Hopefully more people will also do their own research and not be vulnerable to slick propaganda such as Invisible Children's."

Read the full editorial.

Writing on online site Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker looks at Invisible Children and some of concerns that have been raised about them.

Baker raises articles written about the NGO, including an investigation that pointed out:"Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production."

This investigation pointed out: "The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government's army and various other military forces ...

"Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People's Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is 'better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries', although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn't been since 2006 by their own admission.

These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.

Baker concludes: " It's awesome to hear my Facebook friends say they feel "empowered" by sharing the video — but remember that charity isn't really about you feeling empowered, is it?"

Read the full article.

The Canadian Globe and Mail wrote an article on March 7 that "the wild success of the campaign has provoked an angry backlash on social media sites and from many Africans, and from scholars who study Africa. They say the campaign is simplistic and manipulative, with deceptive claims, murky finances and a questionable strategy.

"The U.S. activists are “'selling a pack of lies to unaware youth to raise money for themselves,' said Ugandan blogger TMS Ruge in one of a series of critical tweets ... he said, Africans have been relegated to a 'sideshow' without a voice in their own story. 'Stop treating us like children,' he said. 'I refuse to let my voice stay silent as one more NGO continues to perpetuate an expired single story of us.'

"Another Ugandan writer, Rosebell Kagumire, said the video campaign 'sensationalizes' the issue and makes it all about 'America saving us.'

The article says: "But the most common criticism is simply that the group over-simplifies the reality of the LRA and perpetuates the image of the 'white saviour' for Africa."


Comments

I thought the USA must have some interest in mind other than the welfare of the people.

the issue has to be over-simplified to get people to take action. people are generally too ignorant and/or apathetic to try and understand the issues facing us. hence 'save the whales' and not 'save biodiversity'.

I wonder why the 'left' remains isolated and sectarian??? This article shots the messenger, ok the messenger is not 'perfect' but they are getting people involved, in large numbers, in some sort of political action, many perhaps for the first time. And what does the 'left' do? Take a holier than thou approach, probably even try to undermine the campaig 'for the greater good of pure left politics'.

No wonder the left, particulary here in Australia, is small, sectarian, hardly 'Alliance building' and just about irrelevent and will remain so with this approach.

I applaud the hundreds of thousands of young people worlwide wanting to do something to stop this warlord, I hope they are successful and I then hope they go on and campaign against the next warlord\dictator and the next and the next.

There is no doubt the young people taking action are doing so for very genuine reasons, and this desire to take action should be applauded absolutely.

But the campaign is a call for greater US military intervention, including greater arming of the Ugandan regime, responsible for crimes similar to Kony's. This is not about purer than pure left politics, it is about the fact that what is behind this campaign is not stopping a warlord but extending US power in a region the US is seeking to extend its power into.

This may be an uncomfortable fact, but it is a fact.

Kony is a bastard, but so is the regime, and so are the militias across the border in the Congo, and so are the ethnically driven terrible conflicts across the region. Why back and arm one side against another, in the interests of US power?

To argue for an issue like this to be "over-simplified" is pretty misleading. The "simplified" message ends up supporting a US invasion - such "simplification" kills.

There was another "simple" message recently - "Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction, must invade to bring democracy". Now we are a million dead Iraqis later from that lie and "simplification".

Just like they miraculously found Sadam and Osama - won't be long before glorification hits U.S. shores again! Sick of this rubbish - the media is brainwashing the world. Fancy campaigns, vehicles, travel - you name it.I am from the Sudan and this has been happening for some time - why is it now the Kony campaign has come to light.There must be something in it for America as these children / people have been suffering for some time.Keep churning in the money and donations - would love to know just how much is being made from t-shirts, the bracelets, DVDs, posters, monetary donations and the like - and how much is being provided to the children.I'm sorry, but it's turning into a media circus. In you go America - go in and save the world again.

----The narrator sounds creepy --and his manner as he exploits the two kids for effect,
is creepier still.

The film itself was funded by the ever creepy Rockefeller EUGENICS borg.
It is obviously designed to further promote capstoen interventions in mineral
and oil rich lands on 'humanitarian grounds'.

The UN itself is respponsible for aweosme plunder, sex trafficking, wars,
fierce EUGENICS and GENOCIDE ---worldwide. Under their very asupices some
7 MILLION Africans have been murdered inthe Uganda region alone.
Compared to this ---KONY, such as he is, is NOTHING.

---SO DON'T BE SUCKERS. ---STEER CLEAR 'KONY'.

ANd --AGAIN ---that narrator's a CREEP.