Saturday, March 10, 2012

Want Joseph Kony? Get Him Yourself!

I’m sure you’re aware of the Kony2012 campaign. The expressed goal of this campaign is to make the Ugandan butcher Joseph Kony a household name, to raise awareness and bring him to justice. The implied goal is that this awareness will result in pressure on our government to DO SOMETHING!

Our government. That is, the US government. Because, seriously, who else can do it?

If you haven’t seen the video, you should check it out. At about 13:55 in the video, we see the proponents of action being rebuffed by the government. Washington Politicians rightly state that capturing Kony is not something that affects the US security or US interests. The US government’s charter is to safeguard the rights and safety of US citizens. Not the rights and safety of anyone in the world. Later in the video these folks get a grass roots movement going on the part of a whole lot of people who apparently haven’t read the US Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers or the Declaration of Independence. Now the politicians take note, and start paying attention, because their job is to get re-elected, even if it means shredding the constitution to do it.

Before I get into the questionability of what these people propose, let me first state that while the humanitarian activities of this group is laudable, they are hardly the only charity working in Uganda, and there are many others who use the money you donate more efficiently than these folks do. Before you reach for your wallet, research the charity groups, look at their public filings about how much of the donations go where you intend, and make your own mind up.

I vehemently oppose the idea that the US government should have a role in capturing Kony. Anyone; as a citizen of the US, as an agent of the government, as an advocate for US policy; makes an egregious error if they think it's morally acceptable for the US government to deploy military force under the US flag to hunt for this animal Joseph Kony. They do not - the government does not - have the right to coerce anyone else - any American soldier - to act on their behalf in this matter. There is no imminent public safety threat to US citizens; it's not a matter for the US government; any more than the current unrest in Syria is, or any more than the recent actions in Libya were. The US must divest itself of this mistaken idea that we’re the world’s police force. This idea has gotten us nothing but heartache, failure and far too many coffins returning home from war in the last thirty years. I am no peacenik – there is a time and circumstance for war – but far too often we have used the military to try to accomplish missions that by their very nature have no acceptable resolution.

If this movement really has this many people behind it, and is collecting donations, then let them go get Kony themselves. Seriously folks, quit thinking that the government is the go-to person every time you have a problem. There's plenty of mercenary guns for hire - well respected ones like Blackwater - who will take the contract and do the mission more quickly and efficiently than any governmental organization. Or take more general action and just put a bounty on his head - dead or alive.  And let's have a reality check here, to stop Kony, you will have to kill him. Any other result is a fairy tale. He will never appear before the ICC.

And once you kill him, then what? Take a look at ICC's list, see how many other officers of the LRA are on there. And plenty more that haven't gotten notice from the ICC because the leaders are getting all the attention. This is whack-a-mole. You eliminate one, another just pops up to take his place. The fact is there will always be a "Kony" out there until you remove the environment that breeds these vermin. And now we're talking about nation-building again. That concept is a bottomless pit and has never worked when it's been tried, because these conditions aren't about infrastructure or economics, they're a result of attitudes and cultural values - or what we might think of as lack of same.

Get Kony. Then get the fifteen others that take his place. and once you get them all, go after the similar but less well known groups doing the same thing, who never got big because Kony was around. I guarantee you'll never run out of bastards to round up in Uganda. You think Kony is an aberration? Remember Idi Amin? Kony isn't the problem, he's a symptom. Until the Ugandan people are fed up with this and choose a different path, and are willing to - as our forefathers did - mutually pledge to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor, and take up arms as a community and say "ENOUGH!" then this will go on. This is not something that can be solved by foreign intervention.

The video interviews Santo Okot Lapolo and Norbert Mao, Ugandan politicians. They state that the international community needs to arrest Joseph Kony, that they are willing to cooperate with the international community. If these politicians were true statesmen, they would require the Ugandan army to secure the safety of their citizens in the areas affected by Kony, and be incensed at the idea that they need help from the international community. They know there’s a lot of money to be made if international assistance comes to Uganda, and they’re perfectly positioned to see that a lot of that money goes through their hands. To be fair, however, Kony has left Uganda, and is has been operating in Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Congo for 5 years at least.

You got Kony’s name well known. Good job! Now go get him yourself. Don’t ask for a single drop of blood from an American soldier to do it, and don’t ask for a single dime of taxpayer money to do it. I know there are a bunch of American servicemen who would happily do this for you, but that’s not what they’re being paid for by the US taxpayer, that’s not why we have an army. Remove our advisers from Uganda. If they want military advice, there’s plenty of private companies who will advise them for a price.

I oppose the implicit goals of this movement to raise public awareness for the purposes of pressuring government action. Awareness, fine. Great. Government action? NO! absolutely not. This reminds me too much of how some other Really Bad Ideas got started.

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