U.S. hunt for Kony misguided

The Southerner

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By Graham Russell

On March 23, 2014, President Barack Obama deployed American troops to Uganda. Several CV-22 Osprey Aircraft as well as over 150 Special Operations troops were sent to increase U.S. military presence in Africa. The purpose of this sudden deployment is to remove the threat of the LRA and to capture their leader Joseph Kony.

┬áThe LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) is a group who’s purpose is to create a government under the 10 Commandments. The group has been accused of over 2,000 civilian deaths and nearly 5,000 abductions. The founder, Joseph Kony, believes he is being led by god and that he is receiving divine instructions.
The knowledge of the LRA and Joseph Kony’s crimes began to explode around 2012. A small charity called ‘Invisible Children’ released a video that currently has nearly 100 million views. The video told the viewers that an extremely powerful warlord named Joseph Kony is in Uganda, they listed his crimes (focusing on the kidnap and use of children) and attempted to convince the viewer to ‘make Kony famous’. Within a month after the release, Joseph Kony became somewhat of a household name.
Speculators published articles, blogs, and videos with evidence that took down many of ‘Invisible Children’s’ arguments. The video (much like Obama’s use of the United States military in the matter) came several years too late. Most of the clips they had gathered were from around 2008, and the creators neglected to tell viewers that Kony has been inactive for several years and the LRA had moved most of their numbers into Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I, like many teenagers at the time, felt instantly moved and inspired by the video. The organization took advantage of manyby selling them useless and overpriced packages to ‘help’ the cause. Many of the charity’s wealth distribution numbers were questioned. The money that was coming from ‘Invisible Children’ and into central Africa went to groups such as the Ugandan Army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both of these groups have been known to commit crimes similar to those of the LRA. The KONY 2012 video brainwashed thousands of people in the United States and led them to fund violent groups similar to the LRA all while the real threat (the LRA and Joseph Kony) was and remains completely nonexistent.
Currently, there is little proof of any LRA activity in Uganda. Nearly all of their current activity is going on in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So one of the main questions that came to the minds of speculators: Why are we sending soldiers into an area with a nonexistent threat?
Besides having very little reason for putting soldiers onto foreign soil, there are much more faults in President Obama’s plan. The soldiers in Uganda are not allowed to engage any opposition (not that they would find any) unless it is in self-defense. This means that the troops are not allowed to actively engage the LRA, they must wait for the LRA to make the first move. If all the soldiers are doing is advising the Ugandan military and defending themselves, then why are several Osprey Aircraft in Africa at all? If all of the LRA insurgents in Uganda were to attack the soldiers stationed, their numbers would amount to about 50 soldiers.
Not only does the President believe a group of less than 300 (a mere fraction of that is in Uganda) soldiers total requires military action, it seems that he also believes the capturing of Joseph Kony should be a top priority. While I acknowledge the horrible crimes against humanity Kony has committed, I believe attempting to capture him is a waste of resources. Kony has remained silent for several years, and is showing very little influence over what is left of the LRA. He currently poses no threat to the people of central Africa. Experts believe that Kony is hiding in the wilderness with few numbers, many others believe he is dead.
Ultimately, we are wasting over a billion dollars to take down a group that doesn’t exist and to kill a leader who may be dead. It is completely unacceptable to be wasting our resources fighting a decimated force. Through the actions we have taken so far, we have brought more harm than good. We have aided groups who are similar to the LRA, we have supported a cruel Ugandan government, and we have wasted our own resources throughout this whole endeavor.
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