Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Kony will never be captured

When I was reporter covering government, I learned that to understand what was behind any particular bill being debated in Congress, one should find out whose cow was being gored.

It was a gruesome, but clear depiction of what propels most government action.

In the case of Uganda's fugitive militia leader Joseph Kony, no one's cow is being gored by his continued existence. On the contrary, Kony's continued existence has been beneficial for Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni.

For the duration of the war in northern Uganda from 1986 to 2006, Museveni used Kony and the LRA to keep the north in a virtual state of war. As I explain in my book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, Museveni applied a limited number of soldiers to fight the LRA.

Museveni was distracted by a much more lucrative proposition: toppling the Mobutu regime in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beginning in 1996, Uganda took control much of northeastern DRC and plundered gold, diamonds and timber until 2003, when Uganda was forced to withdraw from eastern DRC due to international pressure.

This has been well documented by Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and forced a judgement against Uganda by the International Court of Justice.

As Museveni applied just enough pressure to control the LRA, he rounded up all of the Acholi people in northern Uganda, his traditional opposition, and put them in refugee camps.

As long as the LRA was alive and well, Museveni controlled and isolated the north, leaving him to plunder the eastern DRC.

Additionally, the LRA irrationally attacked, killed, and mutilated the Acholi people, the same ones who Kony said he was fighting for, claiming that the Acholi were being punished for not joining the LRA's rebellion.

As long as the LRA was alive and fighting, Museveni and Uganda received millions of dollars in foreign aid, with much of the money going to his generals, not soldiers or equipment.

Meanwhile, hundreds of private aid groups from the US, EU, and UN dumped time and money into caring for the people in the camps. This relieved Uganda of its responsibility to care for these Ugandans, who had been put in the camps under the guise of solving the situation in the north.

The LRA has been a cash cow for Museveni and Uganda.

When Kony left northern Uganda, and Uganda failed to kill or capture Kony in the DRC in December 2008, Museveni and Uganda repeated past behavior.

Their failures allowed Museveni to ask for yet more money to fight the LRA, which the US and EU countries continue to give happily.

While humanitarian aid continues to flow into northern Uganda, the latest incarnation of financial support, to the tune of $10 million a year, is in a bill that recently passed the U.S. Senate titled, "The Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009."

Many of the bill's supporters think it means an end to Kony and the LRA, despite the fact that bill only calls for the developing of a multi-lateral "strategy" to bring Kony to an end.

The reality is that as long as Kony remains in remote and inaccessibly places, he will never be killed or captured.

The LRA's brutality affects people who neither control valuable resources nor are connected to events or issues of concern on the world stage. This is not heartless. It is a fact. No one's cow is being gored by Kony.

The only reason anyone knows about Kony is because of the outrages he continues to commit, which continue to shock the world. But to a limited extent.

While the International Criminal Court has indicted Kony and LRA commanders, nothing concrete has been done in five years to bring an end to the LRA. This is the fault of Uganda, not the international community, and certainly not the U.S.

Yet, the international community perpetuates the situation by giving Uganda money and relieving Uganda of doing what it should be doing to capture Kony and help rebuilt the north.

The international community should force Museveni and Uganda to capture Kony and put an end to the LRA using the millions of dollars that Uganda has already received, most of which have disappeared due to corruption.

But, we all know this will never happen.

The international community will not act against Uganda because Uganda is very useful in other ways.

Uganda provides the bulk of the troops for the African Union force in Mogadishu, Somalia, that protects the weak transitional federal government there, and the only line of defense against the rising tide of militant Islam there, embodied in the al-Shabab militia.

For the US and the EU, Somalia is much more critical to regional security than Kony will ever be. Since Uganda is willing to fight in Somalia, the international community is willing to forgive and forget about Kony and the LRA.


qmacker said...

Now that is thoroughly depressing.

James Nelson said...

thanks for the information and here was me wondering why, with the Ugandan army, the Congolese army and the SPLA all supposedly "pursuing" him why he cannot be captured.

Darlene said...

Thank you for your reporting andfor shedding light on the truths about Kony, Museveni, and the international aide problem. Boy oh boy.