Robert Johnson writes: Re. “Video of the Day: Kony 2012 (plus why you should be cynical)” (yesterday, item 9). It is of some interest that the Lord’s Resistance Army’s appalling and long-running atrocities should get traction in, of all places, the US after a quarter of a century of silence.
That interest doesn’t emanate from the Invisible Children video, presently going viral (as has been reported all day today on BBC World Service News here in Kenya) and getting a certain online gathering agitated/aware, but from President Obama’s announcement last October of his sending 100 military advisers to Uganda to assist the hunt for Kony (no longer in Uganda).
That decision, in turn, occurred — surely coincidentally — as Western oil companies were confirming the larger-than-expected size of Ugandan oil deposits, followed by the Ugandan Parliament challenging President Museveni’s government’s less-than-transparent dealings with those companies.
A major linked issue at present is the piping of oil from neighbouring South Sudan, now planned to go — likely along with Uganda’s oil — via northern Kenya to its coastal port of Lamu presently somewhat vulnerable to al-Shabaab incursions. This was a recent joint announcement by the leaders of Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda.
To add to the call for cynicism, I see on the Kony 2012 blogsite a claim that a major supporter of Invisible Children is JP Morgan — not, as Seinfeld would say, that there’s anything wrong with that, but likely an explanation for the timing of the video vis-a-vis geoeconomic interests.
Best of all were the public utterances last October on Obama’s troop commitment by Rush Limbaugh who, having never previously heard of the LRA (probably the medication), attacked Obama for sending US troops to hunt down a Christian militant group that, he said, fights against the Muslims in Sudan! (If he’d done his research, he could’ve claimed that the LRA’s purported enemy was otherwise claimed to be its patron, until South Sudan severed the geographic link.) You can read about it in Foreign Policy and, strange but true, the transcript is still online here.
This cynic suspects that, in the same way that Museveni has played Ugandan responses to Kony in terms of “larger” domestic political concerns, the same will be true of international efforts, with oil evidently being one such consideration. The LRA’s atrocities against children are horrific, but seem to remain as bargaining chips in local negotiations, while hundreds of thousands of people in Uganda and neighbouring countries carry permanent reminders of its brutality and expectations of its impunity. When it comes to Kony/LRA, cynicism can take many forms.
Don’t resort to military clichés
Jackie French writes: Re. “Military ‘culture’: loyalty and inevitable malfeasance” (yesterday, item 2) James O’Connor wrote: “The purpose of a military, once we ignore the recruitment drives and feel-good advertising on humanitarian work, is to kill.”
Don’t you think it is time to give this cliche a rest, and to admit that for some military forces, in some countries, and at some times, the aim is to prevent or stop the killing? To use another cliche: “if you fire a shot, you’ve lost the war.” And if you oversimplify our defence forces and what are not always ironically called “peacekeeping roles”, you will never understand them.
Boothman’s site hacked?
Glen Fergus writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 12) I see the LNP is now claiming that its Gold Coast candidate Mark Boothman’s site was just for innocent petrolheads, and was later “hacked” by p-rnographers (huh?). Fortunately there is the wayback machine (from March 20, 2003):
“Some material on this webpage is of adult nature and is not suitable for a person under the age of 18. By clicking on any icon on this web page you understand the terms and conditions.”
What a shame most of the images do not appear to be archived.