The 30 minute video outlined the issue: Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have abducted more than 30,000 children in the past 26 years, forcing them to become soldiers or “wives” for his soldiers. Kony is also responsible for the displacement of over 2.1 million people. The goal of the KONY2012 campaign? Make Kony “famous” worldwide as the worst war criminal, consequently raising support for his arrest and advocating for the continued presence of U.S. military troops in Uganda until Kony is brought to justice.
After reading a variety of dissenting opinions, including RESOLVE’s “Peace Can Be: President Obama’s chance to help end LRA atrocities in 2012,” I have settled on a perspective that views KONY2012 as a starting point, rather than a final solution.
Rather than focusing on Northern Uganda, which in reality has not seen LRA atrocities since 2006, it would be far more beneficial to target the current recipients of violence: Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan. Furthermore, a reshaping of objectives seems to be in order. Capturing Joseph Kony would not necessitate the demise of the LRA. RESOLVE calls attention to the “cohesive command structure” of the LRA, and its ability to survive attempts at defeating them. Similarly, MCC Uganda points to past military offensives (Operation North, Operation Iron Fist, and Operation Lightning Thunder) that have caused thousands of civilian deaths, and resulted in failure.
Therefore, if the US maintains a military presence in the central African region, its purpose should be to partner with the African Union, in order to eliminate breakdown in the cooperation of regional governments. It would also be appropriate for the US to adopt the role of technology advisor, focusing on assisting to rebuild the civilian infrastructure. Regional early warning networks provide information about LRA activities to potentially vulnerable communities, assisting them in developing preparedness plans in response to threats.
Using money to invest in the empowerment of the Central African people, rather than in militaristic offenses, offers greater potential for creating and reinforcing infrastructure programs. Rebuilding will most likely take years. However, programs involving the betterment of education, health, availability of jobs, trauma aftercare, housing, and food/water will result in a stronger and more sustained nation than that which military force alone could provide.
The attention to Joseph Kony and the LRA garnished by the KONY2012 video may prove itself to be valuable in working toward sustainable solutions for the people of the Central Africa region. Although Invisible Children’s campaign contains misinformation, it is useful as a stepping stone into the exploration of tenable resolutions.