Recently I posted the propaganda clip made by the charity Invisible Children, which tells the story of how it was that the US suddenly became interested in the Joseph Kony and the LRA. But, last year, when the U.S. deployed their troops into Uganda, I posted a piece which highlighted the fact that oil deposits had been discovered in Uganda. And by sheer coincidence, or cold calculation, the troops deployment happened to coincide with this propitious find: ‘the Acholi Times [reported] on 3 October [that] “Betty Aol Ocan, the Woman Member of Parliament for Gulu and opposition Deputy Chief Whip has warned that the discovery and drilling of oil in Uganda could fuel conflict that will engulf the entire country. Aol Ocan explained that because of the lack of transparency in the oil sharing deals by the government and other foreign companies involved in the extraction, oil is a likely potential cause of clash in the country . . . Uganda has discovered at least 1 billion barrels of oil along its western border with Congo. In March the government approved a joint venture deal with UK’s Tullow Oil, China’s CNOOC Ltd. (CEO) and French oil major Total SA (TOT) for the development of oil fields in the three blocks in Uganda, including Acholi sub-region”. And to clarify a bit further, the Acholi people consitute ‘an ethnic group from the districts of Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, and Pader in Northern Uganda (an area commonly referred to as Acholiland), and Magwe County in South Sudan. Approximately 1.17 million Acholi were counted in the Uganda census of 2002, and 45,000 more were living in South Sudan in 2000’, as indicated by Wikipedia’.
Did the Invisible Children campaign merely provide a good pretext to deploy troops into Uganda, or is there something more sinister going on??? Is it really just a coincidence that Kony and the LRA happen to be active in the region of the Acholi, which happens to be the area where oil has been discovered??? The LRA has been fighting since 1991, and 20 years later, in 2011, the U.S. government decides to intervene, after having undertaken another “humanitarian intervention” to secure access to Libya’s oil . . . just to provide some context, the civil war in the DRC, which is a war waged to control access to lucrative mines of Coltan, has caused many more deaths and injuries: ‘‘[a] January 2008 International Rescue Committee survey found that 5,400,000 people have died from war-related causes in Congo since 1998 – the world’s deadliest documented conflict since WW II. The vast majority died from non-violent causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition—easily preventable and treatable conditions when people have access to health care and nutritious food . . . The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is arguably the world’s most deadly crisis since World War II and the death toll far exceeds those of other recent and more prominent crises, including those in Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur”, and in addition “45,000 people continue to die every month” in the DRC. As for neighbouring Uganda and the LRA, the BBC’s Martin Plaut gives some background: the Lord’s Resistance Army’s “leaders initially claimed to be fighting to install a theocracy in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments, but they now sow terror in Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as DR Congo”. On 28 March 2010, The New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman declared that the “United States is providing millions of dollars to the Ugandan army – in fuel, trucks, satellite phones, night-vision goggles and air support – to hunt [the LRA] down. It is one of the signature programs of AFRICOM, the new U.S. military command for Africa, which is working closely with the State Department to employ what U.S. officials call “the three D’s” – defense, diplomacy and development – to help African nations stabilize themselves. These efforts appeared to be succeeding, eliminating up to 60 percent of the Lord’s Resistance Army fighters in the past 18 months, U.S. officials said. But that may have been why the fighters tore off on their raid late last year to get as many new conscripts as possible, along with medicine, clothes and food. Human Rights Watch, which sent a team in February 2010 to investigate the killings, said the army killed at least 320 people in the Tapili area in one of the worst massacres in the armed group’s 23-year, atrocity-filled history’. But now, in 2011, Africom is upping the ante by means of putting some American boots on the ground, at a time when important oil reserves have been discovered . . . Coincidence or not???’.
Let me simply repeat some of the salient points raised in the previous paragraph. The U.S. has deployed its AFRICOM since 2010 to hunt down the LRA and Josph Kony – “providing millions of dollars to the Ugandan army – in fuel, trucks, satellite phones, night-vision goggles and air support” – but these efforts have somehow escaped the attention of the charity Invisible Children . . . or what is going on???
The New York-based Black Star News spins an interesting tale in this respect: ‘Invisible Children’s goals initially may have been to publicize the plight of children caught in Uganda’s decades-long conflicts; lately, IC has been acting as apologists for General Yoweri K. Museveni’s dictatorship and the U.S. goal to impose AFRICOM (the U.S. Africa Military Command) on Africa. IC has produced a brilliant film that’s making the global rounds on Facebook. It’s a classic as propaganda pieces come. The short but overwhelmingly powerful film uses all the best tear-jerk techniques. In the end, the film denounces Joseph Kony, the leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, while giving the impression that Museveni’s dictatorship and his brutal military, which was found liable for war crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo by the International Court of Justice, has nothing to do with the atrocities committed against children in Uganda. It also doesn’t inform viewers that Museveni abducted thousands of child soldiers to win his insurgency in Uganda in 1986, launching the pattern of child soldier recruitment all over Africa. In fact, Kony’s insurgency against Museveni was launched later, meaning he too learned child soldier-abductions from Museveni. Look at the way Invisible Children exploits American children in the beginning of their documentary; they then transplant the audience to Uganda, where again they take advantage of Ugandan children, who are the victims of both the LRA and the Ugandan government’s army. The imagery are powerful. Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ and Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud of this cinematic coup by Invisible Children. If Invisible Children was in fact a serious organization that has not been co-opted by the Museveni regime and the U.S. foreign policy agenda, the organization would inform the world that General Museveni, who has now stolen three elections in a row in Uganda is the first person who deserves to be arrested. This Ugandan and East African nightmare gets a blank check from Washington simply because he has deployed Ugandan soldiers to Somalia at the behest of the United States. So democracy, human rights abuses, and genocide, become minor nuisances as far as U.S. foreign policy goes and as far as Invisible Children cares. This is beyond hypocrisy. Those members of Invisible Children who may have supported this misguided project to send more U.S. troops to Africa because they were unwittingly deceived, should do some serious soul searching. Museveni does not care for the plight of children in Uganda’s Acholi region. How else would he have herded 2 million Acholis in concentration camps for 20 years where, according to the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1,000 children, women and men died of planned neglect–lack of medical facilities; lack of adequate food; dehydration, and; lack of sanitation and toilet facilities. Does this sound like a person who cares about children? His colleagues have denounced Acholis as “backwards” and as “biological substances.” General Museveni himself revealed an interesting pathology, as a first class racist African when he told Atlantic Monthly Magazine, in September 1994: “I have never blamed the whites for colonizing Africa: I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave.” Ironically –or perhaps not– the general was even more embraced by Washington after those remarks. Gen. Museveni has been a U.S. ally since the days of Ronald Reagan. So why does Invisible Children only go after Kony while leaving Museveni alone when in fact they are two sides of the same coin? These young folks who run Invisible Children are extremely dangerous to the welfare of Ugandans and other Africans should they succeed in broadening U.S. military presence in Africa. If the United States were truly interested purely in eliminating Kony why deploy now when Kony abandoned Uganda in 2006 when he was negotiating a peace deal that ultimately collapsed, with Museveni. While Kony and his fighters were camped at Garamba in Congo, as agreed upon during peace negotiations, who was it that launched a military attack with planes and helicopters in December 2008? It was Gen. Museveni, with U.S. assistance. The peace negotiations, which had been embraced by traditional and religious leaders in Acholi region, collapsed. According to Jan Egeland, the former U.N Under-Secretary General for humanitarian affairs, Museveni also wanted to pursue a military approach and even ridiculed his own attempts to negotiate peace. Immediately more killings ensued –this time in Congo; and since Museveni and Kony are two sides of the same coin, it’s unclear who committed the atrocities in Garamba after the abortive attack. After the attacks the LRA scattered into the Central African Republic. One would imagine that if the U.S. and Invisible Children were really interested in Kony, the deployment would have been to Central African Republic. The young folks behind Invisible Children don’t understand the conflict in Uganda; yet they have made themselves the spokespersons. They have campaigned and convinced some celebrities, including Rihana and P. Diddy, to tweet their half-truth propaganda film. This is a way to have one-sided or impartial information become the “dominant truth” globally, and drown out critical analyses. It’s like a group of impressionable White youngsters coming to Harlem and saying: we see you have major crises, let us tell you what’s the solution. Who would accept such misguided and destructive arrogance? If it’s unacceptable in Harlem, it must also be rejected in Uganda’s Acholi region. Acholi traditional leaders, religious leaders, and members of Parliament in Uganda, have all opposed further militarization. But they are not in a position to express their views on CNN or in The New York Times, or to make a slick documentary, such as Invisible Children‘s. What’s more, they’re not accorded the presumptive credibility that [is] often bestowed to White analysts when compared to native Ugandans. Yet, rather than listen to the cries of Uganda’s traditional and religious leaders who live in the war-devastated regions, Invisible Children has decided to produce a beautiful documentary with an ugly agenda that only escalates conflict and endorses Gen. Museveni. Who really believes it’s a good thing for the United States to be sending troops to Uganda or anywhere in Africa? Why would these troops act any differently than those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan? The U.S. government and Invisible Children are using the brutal Joseph Kony as a bogeyman to justify the U.S. long-term plan, which is to impose AFRICOM on Africa. Since everyone knows about Kony’s atrocities, who would object if the U.S. sends 100 U.S. “advisers” to help Uganda, after all? Brilliantly devious. Of course it never stops at 100 “advisers.” That was the announced deployment; there are probably more U.S. troops in the region. Even before the deployment some had already been training Museveni’s soldiers. And more will come; unannounced. AFRICOM, the ultimate objective, would allow the U.S. to be able to counter resource-hungry China by having boots on the ground near the oil-rich northern part of Uganda, South Sudan, Congo’s region bordering Lake Albert, and the Central African Republic. The troops would also be near by in case a decision is made to support regime-change in Khartoum, Sudan. After all, the U.S. foreign policy reasoning is that since Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his defense minister have both been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), few would shed tears for them. The U.S. is aware that African countries oppose AFRICOM. So what does the U.S. do? Go after a “devil” and in this case it’s Kony. Tell the world –with the help of Invisible Children– that our mission is to help rid Uganda of this “devil”; who by the way is hiding somewhere in Central African Republic, while the dictator who most recently stole elections last February, sits in Kampala and meets with U.S. officials and leaders of Invisible Children. If the real target was simply Joseph Kony, the U.S. would have used an armed predator drone; this is how the U.S. has eliminated several suspected leaders of Al-qaeda and the Taleban, after all. It doesn’t seem that Invisible Children is an independent do-good save-the-children outfit. They are paving the way –with Kony, brutal as he is, as the bogeyman– for AFRICOM. Kony is a nightmare, but Museveni has caused the deaths of millions of people in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. In 2005 the International Court of Justice found Uganda liable for what amounts to war crimes in Congo: mass rapes of both women and men; disemboweling pregnant women; burning people inside their homes alive; massacres and; plunder of resources. Congo lost six million people after Uganda’s occupation of parts of Congo. The Court awarded Congo $10 billion in reparations; not a dime has been paid. Congo then referred the same crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague for war crimes charges. On June 8, 2006, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gen. Museveni personally contacted Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General and asked him to block the criminal investigation. It seems that the U.S. and ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo might have indeed obliged. Gen. Museveni and senior Ugandan military commanders remain un-indicted for the alleged crimes that the ICJ already found Uganda liable; only one side of the same coin, Kony was indicted. Prosecutor Ocampo is also totally discredited; readers should Google “Ocampo and South African journalist case.” There is another documentary that tries to explain the Ugandan tragedy, in a more sober manner, unlike Invisible Children’s slick propaganda piece. Hopefully this commentary will motivate people to do their research and demand that the international community deal with both Kony and Museveni. Hopefully more people will also do their own research and not be vulnerable to slick propaganda such as Invisible Children‘s’.