Kony 2012: What Uganda didn't need

Uganda already has a war lord. It does not need a US invasion. Good intentions aside,. no one wants another Iraq.

Ali Rafi March 11, 2012
Sixty seven million views inside just five days is a clear indication of a video gone viral. Such is the power of social media today that Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony has now taken over not only the minds of Ugandan children, but the homepages of millions of people abroad.

Chances are that you have already gone through the 30-minute long video, but if you somehow have managed to avoid those posts, memes, tweets or messages, here’s a summary

- Joseph Kony is one of the World’s most wanted war criminals.

- He has been accused of capturing, training and equipping thousands of child soldiers to formulate an army.

- He is at the top of the International Criminal Courts wanted list.

- He is the leader of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and is known to have 42 children and 62 wives, typical of your average African warlord.

The project, Kony 2012, is a social experiment. One that aims to bring his actions and crimes into the minds of every child, teen or adult that has the ability to watch a YouTube video, and the patience to watch it for half an hour. But going a step further, the makers of this video the “Invisible Children Inc” has asked the United States to step up boots on ground in Uganda from its current number of 100 to help find and terminate Joseph Kony. To say that this project has been anything but a success would be blatantly wrong, the video has already gotten reactions from the top names in the world, including incidentally the likes of Rihanna and Justin Bieber. However, this is going to have a number of affects on Uganda, not all of them as simple as you would believe.

While the attempt to create awareness about the “invisible children” and their stories, truly tragic, is an applaud-able one, it does raise the question of whether asking for US forces in Uganda was what the doctor ordered. Talk of this much needed intervention has already become a common rhetoric with people tweeting and planning show-of-support rally’s to forward their agenda.

However, the United States has an economy that’s already down on its knees because of the large bills in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is also ironic to see the public which has vocally been against those two wars of late, has been singing a different tune for this “project”. Now, while a full-staged war in Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be compared with intervention of perhaps a bit smaller scale in Uganda, it will have its negative effects nevertheless. The aid workers that are functioning in Uganda will have their work cut out for them, the difficulties they already face might be doubled in the situation where violence is met with more violence. Furthermore, theories are already being tabled about the US wanting to match China’s growing influence in Africa, or tapping perhaps the large oil reserves thought to exist in Uganda. An intervention of any sort, will only further that idea.

It must also be noted that Ugandans have been reported as saying that the documentary is a misrepresentation of today’s state of things. That the LRA has not been functioning for the past 6 years, with violence toned down and businesses restoring. It must also be noted, that the last time the US led a manhunt of epic proportions, it took them not only a decade, but countless resources and manpower was lost, with that manhunt still being criticized today. The hunt for Osama Bin Laden, took billions of dollars, led the region into conflict and the countries into economic hardship, something all of us can do without onceover. It is therefore, definitely about time we learn how and when to seek alternative strategies.

So while Joseph Kony is still the villain of the story, and an awareness program is the need of the day, asking for intervention by the USA needs to be reconsidered, instead perhaps the strengthening of the International Criminal Courts efforts, or the UN mission can be considered as better and sustainable alternatives.

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Ali Rafi A student of Economics/Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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