Saturday, November 14, 2009

The good, the bad, the ugly

This past week, Norah Anek, the 86-year-old mother of Joseph Kony, the leader of the militia-cult Lord's Resistance Army, passed away. She was buried not far from where she gave birth to Kony in the town of Adek, about an hour's drive southeast of Gulu in northern Uganda.

According to the nurse who was present at her death, "Moments before dying she said, 'Tell Joseph Kony to make peace.'"

She earlier had said that Kony's problem, the thing that drives him, was that he is possesed by evil spirits.

One can only hope that she was able to find some peace, having been saddled with the unenviable fame of having given birth to perhaps one the world's most notorious and deadly cult leaders.

Norah Anek's explanation for her son's behavior, possession by spirits, contains a nugget of wisdom that apparently cannot be grasped by those who continue to think and advocate appeasement as a way to deal with Kony and his vicious militia.

The latest of these statements surfaced on November 6, titled, "Elements of a New Strategy to Disarm the LRA," written by Fran├žois Grignon, Africa Program Director of the International Crisis Group.

While I agree with much of what Grignon proposes, it reflects an approach to solving the Kony problem based on weakness rather than strength. It fundamentally seeks to appease and reward evil, rather than eliminate it.

Rather than support the Ugandan special forces in their on-going search and destroy mission, Grignon suggests that, "The US should instead lead a coalition of the willing to provide... (regional governments with) ...the means and ability to restore state authority along their common borders, corner the LRA in progressively circumscribed areas of operation, and help Special Envoys of the UN and the region negotiate the disarmament of its commanders and combatants...."

(Why is it always the U.S. who is supposed to do the work? Why is it that the French are so quick to criticize the American "hyper-power" unless there is some fighting to be done? Why don't the Belgians and the French, who created the mess in Central Africa, clean it up rather than only helping themselves to the region's mineral wealth? What about the British, who controlled and occupied Sudan and South Sudan for a century or so? Where are they?)

As part of his solution, Grignon suggests that the Catholic aid group, Caritas, once again be enlisted to provide food and aid to those who are willing to abandon the LRA with their arms and abductees.

The concept is to entice the LRA, which has broken into five or six elements, into surrendering piecemeal, until Kony has no other choice but to sign a peace deal.
Grignon justifies this by saying, "Only two things have succeeded to contain Kony’s murderous campaigns in the past: food and talks."

This has already been tried and didn't work.

As I wrote in First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, I was in Nabanga, South Sudan, in July 2006 when the first convoy of supplies was delivered to Kony and his LRA.

The gesture had doubtful merit even back then. Feed Kony as long as he stayed at the peace talks? It worked for a while, but it wasn't long before Kony and the LRA were back to killing, looting and abducting, even as food supplies were being delivered.

This aiding and abetting of an indicted war criminal, which was illegal, reached a depressing height in the spring of 2008 when Kony rounded up some 500 abductees from the Central African Republic, the DR Congo, and South Sudan. Yet, it continued.

It was done while Kony's opportunistic cheerleader, David Matsanga, proclaimed that Kony was going to sign the negotiated peace deal, which he did not, in April or May, and then again at the end of November.

The UN, meanwhile, was actively attempting to keep it all quiet because they were afraid that Kony would abandon the peace talks because of the logical outrage that would be generated. This was immoral.

The December 14 attack on Kony's camps in Garamba National Park failed, we all know.

It is clear that the LRA's capacity to intercept information about the pending attck, flee from it, and then go on an extended killing rampage had been enabled by the international community's "feed the lion" approach.

We should do something like that again?

When are we going to suck up our sagging guts, and do the right thing? No more appeasment. No more talk. Capture Kony and put him on trial at the International Criminal Court.

At least Uganda is trying and U.S. supports that actively. What is anyone else doing?

Kony, afterall, is an Africa problem, not one that needs to be dealt with by either the US or any European countries. Where are the leaders of the DR Congo and South Sudan? Why should the US have to call them up and hand them a pot of money so they will do their jobs?

Where are the African leaders who are so quick to condemn western nations who dole out aid with strings attached, such as insuring that aid money is spend for the purpose it was intended? Why do they shrink into the shadows when there is work to be done?

The citizens of the DRC and South Sudan are dying at the hands of the LRA. Why does the US or EU need to bribe these leaders into action?

Sudan, meanwhile, should further be held up to intense international ridicule if, as most suspect, it is once again aiding Kony, or elements of his army.

Certainly, the current process of Uganda chasing the LRA around the region is frustratingly slow and tedious. If any of the leaders of the affected nations had an ounce of integrity, they would already be in the chase. The sad reality is otherwise.

Forget more peace talks. Kony has more than humiliated the international community already with his lies, with his looting and killing.

Kony's mother had it right when she said her son was possessed. She knew, unlike some people, that we're not dealing with a rational person. Kony needs to be treated like the psychopathic killer that he is.

Maybe just once, finally, countries in the region (with EU and US support) can do the right thing: find and capture Kony, send him to The Hague, and end the madness.

See Grigin's posting at: http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6381&l=1

1 comment:

Harry said...

It sounds like things in Uganda are much worse than I thought when I wrote my post. It also sounds like this is one of those situations where nobody cares, kind of like most of the other horrors that take place in other African countries . . . and the recently ended Sri Lankan civil war.

The U.N., as always, is worthless when it comes to actually fulfilling their mission of bringing peace to the world.