A look at "Kony 2012" - cynical exploitation of people's good intentions 12 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

I'm aware there's a thread about this in general discussion. I want to get into the thick of this, which I think is not appropriate for 'general discussion'.

Not sure if you guys have seen it, but it has made the rounds among some of my contacts on the internet and indeed it appears to have gone 'viral' in a short time. As of this post, the ~30 minute video on Youtube has hit 38,430,181 views after being uploaded, so it is indeed spreading through different places of the internet. You can look up the video on youtube if you want to see it.

It's obviously a 'well-made' video- not a cheaply made one and convincing production values to get our current generation of people to forgive its rather long running time in a time where its hard to captivate people that long. It makes an appeal to the 'youth' of the world, reminding them of the power of the internet and the 'luxuries' we enjoy in the developed worlds (the narrator brings up the case of his own son), the demand for change by the youth around the world.

What is the point of the video? It covers the 'injustices' of the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a violent militia group that now classified as a 'terrorist' outfit by most countries and international bodies. The LRA blends Christian rhetoric with local values, and had been in conflict with the governments of that region for sometime. It began off in the Acholi region in northern Uganda, who had been for sometime in opposition to the central government due to the marginalization of their demands. Uganda's instability following the fall of Idi Amin after the disastrous war with Tanzania and the succession of military governments created a volatile environment in which rebel groups began to emerge. The LRA fed off this, and in its fight with Uganda was infamous for its use of child soldiers and general atrocities in the region.

The video is essentially meant to raise awareness of the LRA and its leader, Joseph Kony. It shows their atrocities but focuses particularly on the use of child soldiers by the LRA, which was infamous for at time outstraight abducting children from villages to fight in the militia. The documentary covers the involvement of the US and its partners in Africa in fighting the LRA to bring it to 'justice'. The documentary ends with a call to this 'facebook generation' to take action. Share the video, raise awareness, donate to Invisible Children (the group responsible for this documentary)... etc. All, presumably, to bring Kony to justice, most possibly by some direct military action.

It has a 'good message' in the view that this makes people aware of what the LRA is. Unfortunately, despite the information at our fingertips, people are largely unaware of events going on in the world, much less in Africa. I'm sure that many people who are sharing and getting involved in this have their hearts in the right place. But to what end is "Invisible Children" doing this for?

First, we must look at Joseph Kony and the LRA- what threat are they right now? It's still an active group, but despite the general 'mood' of the video that they are still a problem, it is such? The LRA is a shadow of itself, going from a group that had at its peak thousands of members, and it is believed that now, even by the most liberal estimates, it is lucky if it can even get to 200 total.

Much of the LRA's activities in the past decades shifted from Uganda to the instability in the DRC, which was the source of two major wars by Central African states after the downfall of Mobotu Sese Seko and Zaire. To this day much of the LRA is believed to be headquartered outside of Uganda after much of its main bases were removed out of Uganda in 2005 after government operations.

The LRA, like other militia and warlord groups, became a pawn in the regional rivalries in the region. It was utilized in both the First and Second Congo Wars on the part of the DRC and its allies against Uganda and Rwanda- who in turn were supporting rebel groups against the DRC (such as Sudan's SPLA in South Sudan in their raids across the border to the Congo... which was reciprocated by Sudan's support of the LRA). All this in context of trying to control access to mineral deposits in the east of the DRC. The Second Congo War in particular was notable for the massive death tolls it incurred, the humanitarian crises it caused, and the numerous human rights infringement by all groups involved.

The LRA is simply a small outfit now, withering away as it loses access to its previous support groups as it has become discredited, coupled with other militias filling its void. The US-aided Operation Lightning Thunder swept through the LRA camps in 2008 in jungles in the northeast of the DR Congo. Kony avoided capture, but it was a deep disaster for the group which had already been collapsing.

In 2012 the US approved more measures to help the Ugandan government with the LRA. In 2011 the US sent some 100 advisers and trainers to aid the Ugandan military, presumably against the LRA (though I think it also has something to do with the state... which I'll get into later). It is very much on AFRICOM's agenda. With that in mind, it is not quite the 'pressing' uncontrollable disaster that has been able to persist because of the ignorance of the world. Quite the opposite- the 'world' has been aware of it for sometime, or at least those that guide policy.

The big problem I have with Kony 2012 is that it ignores many of the tangled webs of African politics. The LRA is hardly the only actor here with 'dirty' hands- arguably the Museveni government of Uganda can be seen just as guilty as the LRA with respect to injustices.

President Museveni was involved in the coup against the dictator Idi Amin during the later stages of the war with Tanzania. The following five years in Uganda was unstable, prompting infighting among the officers who overthrew Amin, and eventually Museveni's military faction prevailed in the Luwero War. He became president on January 18, 1986- and has been president since then.

Museveni's presidency was marked by many injustices. Though hailed by western countries as a model all African leaders should look to in how to 'improve' their countries, Museveni has been charged for many abuses by his government, even recently by Amnesty International. Remember- this is the same man lauded as a model for Africa to follow! This also includes the so-called "Kill the Gays" bill that has surfaced in Uganda supported by evangelical groups in the States.

Museveni's National Resistance Army, his outfit during the Luwero War that raised him to power, is believed to have used Child Soldiers- on a possibly larger scale than that of the LRA. In 1986, Unicef estimated that Museveni's National Resistance Army had at the very least some 3000 child soldiers- matching the TOTAL size of the LRA at its peak!

An account by a former child soldier in the National Resistance Army:

I was a child soldier for Uganda's President -- New Internationalist

For many years, the focus on rights violation in Uganda has been on the Lord’s Resistance Army as a terroriser of children to fight as child soldiers. But the practice of kidnapping children to fight for rebel armies began in Uganda with the current President, Yoweri Museveni, and was a tactic that helped him come to power in 1986.

For many years after that he pretended to be a great reformer, a democratic leader whom all the donors loved – never mind what he continued to do to stamp out any dissent in places where no-one looked.

Now, after 25 years in office, Museveni is becoming more and more abusive of power. He is currently obsessed by the idea that he will become victim of an ‘African Spring’, mimicking the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. In this atmosphere of paranoia, he has targeted with extreme violence people he distrusts in an attempt to terrify the legitimate opposition led by Dr Kizza Besigye into passivity.

Kassim Kiggundu and his family have suffered repeatedly as a result of his own kidnapping as a 11-year-old in 1981. Recently, his brother has been killed.

gnd.jpg Uganda. YoTuT under a CC licence. That terrible day

On a Thursday morning in May 1981, there came to my boarding school unknown, scary armed men dressed in dirty clothes. They surrounded us and told us not to move. We had to tie ourselves to one another with a rope. Then we were driven away on a lorry, 45 of us. We reached somewhere where the lorry could no longer continue and from there we started marching. We walked and walked and kept on walking until it was dusk.

We kept asking our teachers, ‘Why has this happened?’ Nobody had an answer. That terrible day was the beginning of the journey to where I am now. A Ugandan exile here in the UK. My mother dead, because of that day. My father, ruined, died of a heart attack in prison, because of that day. My wife is a refugee with our children in Kenya. And now in April 2011, 30 years later, my brother Rajab has been shot in the back, killed, a perfectly innocent person.

I try to tell myself I am not to blame. The one truly responsible is him, Museveni, President of Uganda, leader of those rebels that abducted me. The man who used us, children, to fight his bush war, stripped us of our humanity to do it, and then wanted to get rid of us, those few who survived.

On that terrible day, we kept losing one pupil after the other. Whoever couldn’t walk any more would be killed. A female teacher kept pushing us, trying to help us. She lifted a girl and carried her on her back, trying to save her life. But she herself became exhausted. They were both killed, bloodlessly, with a blow at the back of the head. Then they were buried in a shallow ditch, their bodies barely covered.

At that moment I became a man. After witnessing that horrible, inhuman act my heart turned. In that split second, I decided that if this was my life now, I would be one of them, whole-heartedly. There was no other way to survive. The next day Museveni came. His first words were: ‘Whoever tries to escape must die.’

We were taught how to use a gun. We were told not to harm any wild animal because they are one of us. We were told our smell, or scent, of a human being needed to change to be like that of the forest and the animals. It was true, they were part of our family. We used to pass by lions. To our surprise, they ran away from us. You would wake up terrified to find you had slept next to a big snake.

We were made to swear that if they brought our mothers and fathers here and told us to kill them, we would do it. You had to become like the people who had been horrible to you.

Did you have a choice? No.

And where were you going to escape to? Nowhere.

I spent my best teenage years in a jungle, fighting for him, Museveni. I trusted him completely, and he could see it. I was a spy, I did a critical job perfectly, and Museveni knew this and treated me as a pet. I was lucky because most of my fellow pupils did not survive. When Museveni took over the country in 1986, it was thanks to us, his fighters. But what was our reward? We were kept on the frontline in the north, in the 27th battalion, always fighting.

Finally in 1987 we, child soldiers who were still alive, were promised that our parents would be brought to see us. We were so excited. I couldn’t wait to see my mother. Sadly, it didn’t happen. The lorry with our parents was ambushed. My mother died trying to come to the danger zone to see her son. She was just a few miles away from where I was.

Some 18 months later, we defeated and scattered the enemy and hoped to be relieved. Instead, I was taken to prison. My senior officers were opposing Museveni. But I was 16. What did I know? I was given a five-year sentence. For what? For giving him my total commitment, for doing my very best. I was a young prisoner, and I was released in 1991 after international complaints.

child600x256.jpg Photo by Yohann Legrand under a CC Licence

I was accepted into the army, and I did well. I married and became a family man, putting away the past. One day in August 2002, Museveni called me directly, by my password, to go to State House. He said: ‘How old are you now?’ So I told him. He said: ‘Then you are old enough to fight me.’ He said: ‘When a person points to the leopard’s cubs, his finger will be bitten off.’

He was threatening me. Then he threw a glass of orange juice into my face and dismissed me. Three weeks later I was arrested. He never gave me one chance to defend myself. I was tortured to reveal things I could not reveal because I knew nothing about them. I only just escaped being killed. Secret helpers helped me to escape to the UK. I had no idea where I was going.

I often ask myself, why have I survived when my school-mates, and many members of my family, have perished at the hands of this man. I did my job for him. I betrayed many people for him. I did terrible things for him. But instead of thanking me, he betrayed me and wished me dead. And now my only brother has been killed by Museveni’s henchmen for innocently protesting for the rights of the Ugandan people. When I call my sister-in-law, all I hear is crying.

Kassim Kiggundu, 9 May 2011. As told to Maggie Black.

One more snippet. The LRA started operations in the late 1980s- later than the National Resistance Army was using child soldiers. Museveni had already created a precedent for the use of child soldiers in Uganda...

Remember the Ugandan army's numerous 'raids' after the LRA in the Congo? It appears they did a lot more harm than good. There are many reports of looting, rapes, and indiscriminate killing by the UPDA (Ugandan People's Democratic Army), which would put it on level with the LRA. But guess which one is getting strong support from the US via AFRICOM, and which is the bogeyman. Yeah, I think you know.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. You can read up on the First and Second Congo Wars to see many of the atrocities carried out by the UPDA as much of the Eastern DRC got ravaged by looting, rapes, killings, etc by all parties involved. To this day there's still problems in the region with warlords supported by Ugandan and Rwandan governments to get resources from the east of the DRC.

Internally, I've already mentioned much of Museveni dictatorial powers in Uganda as he solidifies his power and is fast showing his true colors. Hell, he has already served much, much longer than Uganda's most infamous dictator, Idi Amin.

Remember the Acholi people I mentioned earlier? The ethnic group in the north of Uganda which the LRA exploited (and presumably from whom the Child Soldiers were recruited from). They didn't get treated much better from the government either. It may be recalled that the Acholi people, much like the other, numerous oppressed ethnic minorities in the world that feel marginalized and sidelined from the control of a larger ethnic group in the central government. Under the pretext of fighting this insurgency in the north, the central government ended up creating massive 'internment' camps to house internally displaced peoples. The last, recent count a few years ago estimated some 1.6 million people are crowded in these camps by the government, prevented to ever return to their homes and brutalized by their guards. There has been accusations of a form of ethnic cleansing here. All this is intentionally done by the government to atomize the Acholi people.

Now before someone accuses me of supporting the LRA, I don't. LRA and Koby are utter scum and I'm pleased people know about the group. However, I do not trust this organization "Invisible Children" in their aims and objectives. The end goal is an obstinately pro-AFRICOM orientation and further outside intervention and disruption in people's lives- which has already matched if not surpassed the bad LRA has done. Never mind that the Invisible Children campaign is attempting to drum up support behind Musevini- who I hope by now you realize is a deplorable individual that should be locked away with Kony. Yet Kony 2012 wants us to support the Ugandan government!

Supporting further intervention by the current actors in the region against this exaggerated threat will only reproduce the horrors of the Congo Wars, and further ignore the plight and ethnic cleansing of the Acholi people. Do not fall for the aims of the Invisible Children organization- even as a 'charity' group their practices are questionable, with much of its expenses apparently addressing staff costs.

Never mind there's very much a 'White Man's Burden' theme running here... that the all-powerful Americans and Europeans need to help out the poor Africans who can't do shit themselves. Of course, it ignores the existing relationship between the west and Africa- I've already alluded to Musevini's strong support by the US and others despite his injustices.

Good sources on the Ugandan regime and criticisms of Kony 2012

Visible Children - KONY 2012 Criticism KONY 2012, Invisible Children's Pro-AFRICOM and Museveni Propaganda Behind Kony 2012 and Ugandan war criminals | Green Left Weekly http://friendsforpeaceinafrica.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf EXPOSE UGANDA'S GENOCIDE: Satellite Photos of Uganda's Death Camps DR Congo: UN Report Exposes Grave Crimes | Human Rights Watch U.N. Goes Public On UPDF Atrocities With Damning Report | Ugandans Abroad




Caprica-Six

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#2 6 years ago

A really well thought out post mate you deffinately seem to knowmore than me on the subject, I still believe that it would be a travisdy for todays youth not to question the motives of Invisible Children and to do some of they're own research (as you obviously have)

Is not one of the most important aims of schooling and especially history (in relation to events of the 20th century WW2, nazis and propoganda etc) to teach our youth to think for themselves and not be drawn in to an idea like sheep.

I am aware that the above statement may sound harsh and quite condesending, I will be the first to admit that when i first watched the video I wanted to jump on the band wagon myself and "do my bit" however some higher part of my brain clicked and urged me to do some of my own research into not only Kony but also recent events in Uganda and Invisible Children.

At the same time Kanobi posted a link to a very good article that gives more depth to the motives of Invisible children.

I deffinately think that Schools should take the oppurtunity to jump on this modern topic it would be a disaster if we couldn't get kids talking about this themselves and working out where they stand on the issue, and hopefully seeing the bigger picture!




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#3 6 years ago

I don't support the Invisible Children, there are very few "charity" organisations I actually do support. I do support their message of bringing Kony down (as long as it doesn't end there), but I will not give them my money nor will I put up posters about Kony. I have shared the knowledge of Kony with people, but I do not bring up Invisible Children.

Kony and the Ugandan government/military aren't the greatest of people/organisations, but the government is the lesser of two evils (which seems to be a trend throughout our planet - we always get the lesser of two evils but never actually a GOOD). The government can also be controlled and kept in place (if we actually gave a damn), but at the same time controlling the lives of the people in African countries and then abandoning them afterwards is the entire reason that continent is so fucked up to begin with.

I think it is worth mentioning that all organisations, be it Invisible Children, Red Cross, PETA, you name, it are all shady; and just because they are shady doesn't mean they should be burned at the cross and disregarded. People are so caught up in bringing Invisible Children to its knees and chopping its head off that they have completely ignored the real problem. And just because people jump on the Kony bandwagon because it makes them 'feel important' isn't actually a bad thing - that is usually how change happens.

There are extremely arrogant and stupid people on both sides of the argument, I probably came off as one of them in the general discussion thread (as did some others but I won't name names). I've better explained myself this time, at least I hope. =p

In the end it shouldn't matter if people support Kony 2012 campaign - it isn't your job to tell people what they do with their money and who they support. Shedding light on the shadiness of the organisation is fine, but calling its supporters "sheeple" and claiming they only do it because it makes them feel good is a HUGE generalisation and EXTREMELY disrespectful. Sadly, respect is a rare commodity today.




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#4 6 years ago

So is love.


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Commissar MercZ

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#5 6 years ago
Schofield;5619518I don't support the Invisible Children, there are very few "charity" organisations I actually do support. I do support their message of bringing Kony down (as long as it doesn't end there), but I will not give them my money nor will I put up posters about Kony. I have shared the knowledge of Kony with people, but I do not bring up Invisible Children.

You could have done this with out asking people to donate money though. I'm pretty sure anyone could've made some message go 'viral'. I'm a nerd of course, but I've been aware of LRA for some time, as have others looking at Central Africa and its conflicts.

So it's not like no one knew about LRA anyways- as I said most major nations and organizations were well aware of LRA and Kony. If they wanted to make a more significant splash, they should have done so when LRA was at its peak, not when it's just the equivalent of a gadfly as far as African militias are concerned.

Kony and the Ugandan government/military aren't the greatest of people/organisations, but the government is the lesser of two evils (which seems to be a trend throughout our planet - we always get the lesser of two evils but never actually a GOOD). The government can also be controlled and kept in place (if we actually gave a damn), but at the same time controlling the lives of the people in African countries and then abandoning them afterwards is the entire reason that continent is so fucked up to begin with.

Hold up, did you just say Musevini and the government is the 'lesser of two evils' here? I kind of went in ad nauseam how more or less since the end of the major LRA insurgency the Ugandan regime has continued to exact atrocities and human right infringements that exceed those of the LRA by now. Musevini was using child soldiers long before LRA made the west aware of it. And he's been given the stamp of approval by western governments as far as I know, so it won't matter what he does. No one will stop him over that.

Going behind the UPDA to 'solve' this is only going to make things worse because A. They don't need it as they already receive strong support, B. It's questionable of Kony is even in Uganda anymore or his threat to the government, and C. Considering the human rights record of the UPDA and their backers, they aren't exactly the people you want to be 'solving' this issue.

LRA is 'evil' yes, but it's no where near its original capacities or strength as of now. Kony 2012 is misleading people into thinking that LRA is this group that has gone out of control, unnoticed. AFRICOM and regional nations have already been engaging the group and destroying it piece by piece.

So it's hardly the equivalent of say, Darfur, where these countries couldn't do anything about it. They are doing something about it here.

All the while the Acholi people are rounded up into concentration camps and not allowed to return to their homes, starved to death or shot by guard camps. In 2005 it was reported some 1000 people a week were dying due to treatment from the government in the camps I mentioned earlier. In a few months they did enough to make the LRA look like chumps. That's not something that phases you? By this point the Ugandan regime is causing many problems and does not need any more encouragement against an organization which is not really a problem any more- inside the borders of Uganda at least.

At this stage in the game, I would say there is a lot of dishonesty from the Koby 2012. They dumb down the message of what's going on in Africa and do the usual 'share this link, support this, etc' to make a difference. That might work for some things (as we saw with SOPA/PIPA), but in a complicated case like that of Central Africa, it's not going to do much.

The ugly truth is even if you get rid of Koby and the LRA, it won't do much. They aren't major players anymore as they've lost major supply routes by this point with the creation of South Sudan, considering the rivalry between the SPLA and the LRA. Will it end the cycle of war and devastation in Central Africa and elsewhere? Or the use of Child Soldiers? Not by a long shot. That would invovle engaging more deeper issues in Africa, ones that western states (or China) are not willing to do so because the current situation is favorable for economic influence.

I think it is worth mentioning that all organisations, be it Invisible Children, Red Cross, PETA, you name, it are all shady; and just because they are shady doesn't mean they should be burned at the cross and disregarded. People are so caught up in bringing Invisible Children to its knees and chopping its head off that they have completely ignored the real problem. And just because people jump on the Kony bandwagon because it makes them 'feel important' isn't actually a bad thing - that is usually how change happens.

I don't think people are 'ignoring' the LRA problem. You can look through this forum and see LRA has been brought up many times in the past. Criticisms of Invisible Children isn't new either, so it isn't just some contrarian thing coming up just now.

A few months back, in light of confusion over what Obama was doing with sending aid to Uganda, Foreign Affairs magazine wrote a nice piece on the problem. I'll take a small selection.

During the past decade, U.S.-based activists concerned about the LRA have successfully, if quietly, pressured the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to take a side in the fight between the LRA and the Ugandan government. Among the most influential of advocacy groups focusing specifically on the LRA are the Enough project, the Resolve campaign, the Canadian-based group GuluWalk, and the media-oriented group Invisible Children. Older agencies, from Human Rights Watch to World Vision, have also been involved. In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA's use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony -- a brutal man, to be sure -- as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan's People's Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.

I suggest reading the rest of the article. It's quite enlightening on the issues there, but more importantly pointing out that really no one knows what's going on. I think I can agree with them in that many have relied on wikipedia in trying to piece together the LRA and the issues there. Hell, I think I remember when everyone's favorite idiot Rush Limbaugh claimed Obama was sending troops to Uganda to 'fight Christians', that would presumably aid the 'Muslims' in Sudan in killing Christians there. Nevermind that the Sudanese government had connections with LRA, and that despite their common 'Christian' background, the LRA and SPLA found themselves on the opposite end of the battlelines because of their interests and who fund them.

Compared to other charities, Invisible Children is rather bad, as far as allocation of funds and transparency goes. They don't allow audits of their program (which other charities do, typically) and didn't respond to BBB attempts to report on their organization. Other indications seem to point that more of their funds are spent on the organization itself rather than the activity towards what it's meant for.

I think it's also problematic that despite all this stuff about the injustices there, none of the major players in Invisible Children are Ugandan, Congolese, Sudanese, etc. There are people they refer to who are such, but the major guiding lights in the organization are not.

I think it's been shown that the organization is manipulating all this to their own ends, presumably to lobby support for aid to Uganda or AFRICOM agenda.

There are extremely arrogant and stupid people on both sides of the argument, I probably came off as one of them in the general discussion thread (as did some others but I won't name names). I've better explained myself this time, at least I hope. =p

In the end it shouldn't matter if people support Kony 2012 campaign - it isn't your job to tell people what they do with their money and who they support. Shedding light on the shadiness of the organisation is fine, but calling its supporters "sheeple" and claiming they only do it because it makes them feel good is a HUGE generalisation and EXTREMELY disrespectful. Sadly, respect is a rare commodity today.

I don't think anyone is criticising people for looking at Koby 2012 and feeling upset and concerned about it. It may be annoying to some when you get spammed links to this, but my point in making this thread was to highlight the motivations behind the organization in exploiting people's good intentions and hearts. I think if people were given an honest explanation of what's going on in Uganda and the rest of Central Africa, they would see that, unlike what the film implies, you can not blame the LRA for all of the region's problems. In the end wars like the Second Congo War were intitiated over resource conflicts and tensions between those powers with the vacuum of the DRC- and this is where the majority of the problems in Central Africa come from. The LRA were used as a proxy here- among many other militias and the regular militaries.

Again, getting rid of Kony or LRA- while they would certainly 'deserve it' would not resolve the problems in the region. Children will still be forced into militias by other groups, the Acholi will still be brutalized and killed in the 'interment camps' never allowed to return to their original homes, or the resource disputes in the Eastern Congo. Especially since LRA and Koby aren't the cause of it but rather a symptom.




Caprica-Six

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#6 6 years ago

In all honesty i think that IC are stirring up the wasps nest a little here




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#7 6 years ago

I counter your wall of text with this link:

We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army (UPDF). None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda or any other government. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.

To which your primary source replies:

This is precisely the sort of information I was hoping they would be more up-front with. Please read this - it’s great that IC is providing this resource.

His subsequent answers show even more backpedalling.

Also note that most of your sources which actually report about Kony are left-leaning and/or of questionable credibility: -some political science student who is obviously leeching for the past few days of the popularity of a group which has been active for several years -an Australian radical left-wing newspaper (wiki) -website of an insignificant newspaper

Seems to me that leftists have a bug up their ass about US getting involved in Africa. Which is way more cynical than what IC does because it seems apparent that the US doesn't really stand to gain a lot by risking any involvement in that place.

Now as it would be unfair to only attack your sources let me say this: while you pointed out that the situation is more complex than that video shows (foregone conclusion as it is marketed for an American audience) and also show that Uganda's current government is less than ideal it is a matter of fact that western states have often cooperated with criminal governments in order to deal with a certain problem because there is no alternative. Well except for invading the place and setting up a colonial government, but I doubt that you'd prefer that. Example: food shortage in North Korea - do you prop up the government up or let thousands starve?

To make matters worse - you do not even prove the connection between IC and Uganda but just assume that it exists based on the fact that Kony 2012 is preoccupied with Kony and not with the atrocities of other groups or governments. To stick with the NK example: it is like accusing Obama of being a communist because he works with NK to prevent famines.




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#8 6 years ago

Secret message.




Commissar MercZ

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#9 6 years ago
MrFancypants;5619604 Seems to me that leftists have a bug up their ass about US getting involved in Africa. Which is way more cynical than what IC does because it seems apparent that the US doesn't really stand to gain a lot by risking any involvement in that place.

I don't think this is something focused on by the left in particular. Where I live at least it's been picked up by more right-wing people who get sick of these kind of 'feel good' African charity groups that are often made fun of. I just happen to read those sources and they are the ones that I shared (I don't think you really need to look up these sites to see where they lie, "Green Left" is obvious enough...) If you want a more 'reliable' analysis, lot of the more 'respectable' papers have also published their own critiques of the program.

I just had these sources up first because A. A lot of people were taking the program at face value and B. No one else had really taken a critical stance when the video went viral, at first at least.

The Foreign Affairs article describes the problem in Uganda well, I don't see why you are discounting and ignoring that article. I again draw your attention to the part here:

During the past decade, U.S.-based activists concerned about the LRA have successfully, if quietly, pressured the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to take a side in the fight between the LRA and the Ugandan government. Among the most influential of advocacy groups focusing specifically on the LRA are the Enough project, the Resolve campaign, the Canadian-based group GuluWalk, and the media-oriented group Invisible Children. Older agencies, from Human Rights Watch to World Vision, have also been involved. In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA's use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony -- a brutal man, to be sure -- as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil. They rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan's People's Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.

For other respectable sources that aren't the 'rags' I posted.

Kony 2012: what's the real story? | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Kony 2012 campaign: Oprah and bracelets won't solve problem | Michael Wilkerson | Comment is free | The Guardian

Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of 'Kony 2012' - Kate Cronin-Furman & Amanda Taub - International - The Atlantic

Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) - By Michael Wilkerson | FP Passport

Joseph Kony 2012: growing outrage in Uganda over film - Telegraph

African Critics of Kony Campaign See a 'White Man's Burden' for the Facebook Generation - NYTimes.com

Kony 2012 is a Distraction From Issues Ordinary Ugandans Care About - NYTimes.com

Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer - BlogPost - The Washington Post

Many Ugandans frustrated, suspicious of Kony 2012 [Video] - latimes.com

Nation & World | Viral video of Joseph Kony draws eyeballs, concern about facts | Seattle Times Newspaper

I'm also aware of the organization's attempts to save face by bringing up some of the child soldiers to defend them, trying to bring the conversation back to moral outrage rather than neutral observation. Boingboing, while not a credible 'source' in themselves, gathered an interesting list of African journalists and what not with their critical stance towards Kony 2012.

African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign - Boing Boing

Now as to your bit about 'why' the US would be involved in the region. You say it doesn't make sense because it stands to gain little to nothing from it. In Uganda individually, maybe (even though the country has begun finding oil in the past few years, which would make it much more economically powerful), but in the region as a whole- no. We've already seen the coverage of the 'mineral wars' in the Congo which is tied intricately into our own economies here and demand for high-tech goods. Uganda, along with Rwanda and Burundi, have been involved in those areas via proxy militias. Some other sources:

http://conflictminerals.org/coltan-learning-the-basics/ http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2011/1018/Europe-can-improve-upon-US-s-conflict-minerals-legislation-ICG http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/central-africa/dr-congo/behind-the-problem-of-conflict-minerals-in-dr-congo-governance.aspx

AFRICOM's involvement in hunting down the LRA and Kony already indicates that they are concerned about regional security there- so it's not as if it's 'not' involved and people are worried about it becoming involved. It's already involved too much in the region.

There's been plans for more ports in East Africa, as the one in Dar es Salaam has become overcrowded. To that end there has been construction of a new port in Kenya to help service the region- and more importantly create a path for the planned new pipeline from South Sudan to this port so it is no longer reliant on Sudan for exporting its natural resources.

Uganda fits into this because it is part of the major trade routes in East Africa- not with South Sudan- but at least the mineral deposits in the Congo. Exporting through Kenya would be easier for it than through Tanzania. The nations of East Africa have been planning with one another to create a supranational entity like the UN which would presumably create one of the more wealthy and strong markets in Africa, and many foreign investments are going towards that direction. The US is interested in where this goes, as are other nations in Europe and China.

So to say the US has little to gain from its involvement in these nations is incorrect. Again it's already involved so it's not a knee jerk reaction to people worried about US foreign involvement.

Now as it would be unfair to only attack your sources let me say this: while you pointed out that the situation is more complex than that video shows (foregone conclusion as it is marketed for an American audience) and also show that Uganda's current government is less than ideal it is a matter of fact that western states have often cooperated with criminal governments in order to deal with a certain problem because there is no alternative. Well except for invading the place and setting up a colonial government, but I doubt that you'd prefer that.

A lot of other NGOs before and after this do not fall into this issue. They are usually upfront of what is happening in the region and what to do about it. Those that were concerned about Darfur for example rarely decided to work with the militias there. Those who switched to South Sudan did not 'defend' the SPLA (though Invisible Children did apparently, as a photo of the founders with the organization shows posing with the SPLA when they were filming over there).

GlennaGordon_InvisibleChildrenA.jpg

Of course, did they not mind that the SPLA too was using child soldiers, like the LRA? Apparently not. The SPLA only tentatively agreed to demobilize their child soldiers back in 2010 as most of the important nations of the world seemed ready to recognize the independence of South Sudan.

I'm aware as well of the organization's attempts to distance themselves from the Ugandan government. They do the typical handwave to quiet detractors, but I want to note what they follow it up with.

We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army. None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.

Alright then, so they say they don't support them... but they should to stop it. Yes, the lesser of two evils mindset here once more to justify that action. Again, I bring up the following:

-Is the LRA and Kony even a major threat in the region anymore? -Can we place the chief reason of Africa's problems- or at least in the east/central Africa region- on the LRA and Kony? -Has not the Ugandan government and the UPDA already committed the lion share of atrocities and problems there? -Why no attention to the Acholi? -Is Kony even in Uganda anymore? The Foreign Policy article I posted above disputes that he's even in the country anymore.

This, along with other factors, is why people have been critical of the program. It's pulling at people's heart strings to get them to help a group and international efforts to interfere in a region where it might do more harm than good. Again, with the US involved in the region as it is, makes me question exactly to what end they are doing this for- especially since they are fundraising money. I believe they have already surpassed $5 million by this point in donations and purchases from their shop. What will that money be used for? Paying their staff and operating expenses? Making more videos and such exploring the problems of the region? Lobbying in pro-AFRICOM circles stateside?

All I know is that it has used people's good intentions and hearts by taking advantage of a region of the world not much people pay attention to. Unfortunately most people don't generally pay attention to world events anyways, but when they do Africa doesn't typically rank up there.

Example: food shortage in North Korea - do you prop up the government up or let thousands starve?

I don't like these kind of comparisons because it ignores the uniqueness of each location and their history. Just as pointless as "Well, would you have let Hitler continue killing the Jews?" You can't compare what's going on in North Korea with what's going on in African nations- they have their own influences from economic and political trends.

North Korea- for one thing- a closed state where the United States has limited to no influence in its internal politics- to Uganda, where the US has had involvement in some way for a long time, as well as surrounding nations There are close ties between the US governments (and others, for that matter) with the current Musevini government. It's not like they have been carefully 'tiptoeing' around this to avoid war- they've been pursuing LRA actively in the past decade.

As things stand, Uganda's biggest problems are not from the LRA but rather the problem of the Acholi in the internment camps in the north, and the corruption and heavy handedness of the government. What the LRA did in the past was a tragedy- but is it doing it now? Is the world ignoring it? I don't think so, on both counts.

The Foreign Affairs article has described the US's involvement in sweeps of the LRA's remaining camps- and before- so it can't be said they aren't really involved here as it is or turning a blind eye to it.

To make matters worse - you do not even prove the connection between IC and Uganda but just assume that it exists based on the fact that Kony 2012 is preoccupied with Kony and not with the atrocities of other groups or governments. To stick with the NK example: it is like accusing Obama of being a communist because he works with NK to prevent famines.

Again, I bring up part of their official statement when criticisms were starting to go around:

We do not defend any of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Ugandan government or the Ugandan army. None of the money donated through Invisible Children ever goes to the government of Uganda. Yet the only feasible and proper way to stop Kony and protect the civilians he targets is to coordinate efforts with regional governments.

That says enough to me. Plus, I can't really imagine this film crew did not go into Uganda without some knowledge, if not support, of the central government. Just like they were cheerleading with the SPLA in their efforts there, they also try to portray the events in Uganda as the government fighting a 'tough' battle against a powerful LRA, which is completely false in every single way. The government does not need to worry about LRA at this stage, which is why even when Obama deployed observers there, journalists and analysts speculated as to what purpose since it's not an existential threat.

As far as Musevini is occurred, people from within Uganda have long insinuated that his major fear is that something like the Arab Spring could come to his doorstep, more than he is about the LRA causing problems. He's already seen some of it flare up in Nigeria and Senegal, and he knows the same conditions there (corruption, economic disparities, etc) exist in Uganda too that might present a problem and give his opponents something to work with.




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#10 6 years ago

This Invisible Children organization is clearly corrupt. I still support the cause though. Something should be done about it, and the organization seems to be doing a good job of getting awareness out there. But what is needed is for someone to come up with a concrete strategy to lobby the governments to intervene in a way that will actually result in Kony's capture. The LRA has little presence in Uganda anymore, so the 100 Green Berets there would be more useful in South Sudan (who is a more reliable ally than Uganda IMO), CAF or DROC, which both already have UN missions operating in them.




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