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.
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?"
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.'