A Response to the Kony 2012 Backlash

Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign has been all over social media since it launched. I’ve also seen a lot of links to a critical response entitled Visible Children as well and felt I should respond to some of the arguments that were put forward.

I would consider myself a lay person on this subject, but I have traveled to LRA affected countries multiple times and have spent hours upon hours researching and following the development of the LRA over the last six years.

While I disagree with the author’s assessment of Invisible Children as a non-profit, I’m going to only write about the arguments he makes against the execution of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act that President Obama signed into law on May 24th, 2010 and IC’s support of the plan of action stated in that bill.

These are the primary statements he makes that I disagree with:

“Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them.”

IC doesn’t defend, deny or even attempt to hide the problems with human rights abuses that exist inside the Uganda government, the UPDF, nor the SPLA. I haven’t extensively researched humans rights abuses in the UPDF, but I have trouble with the idea of one group’s human rights abuses being used as a reason to allow another one’s far greater abuses to go on.

“Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006.”

What country the LRA is residing in is irrelevant. Invisible Children doesn’t claim that Kony needs to be apprehended for the betterment of Ugandans and their most recent project was in DR Congo. IC’s redevelopment focus is centered in Northern Uganda because that’s where the overwhelming majority of those affected by the LRA reside.

“Any effort to capture or kill [Kony] will almost certainly result in many children’s deaths, an impact that needs to be minimized as much as possible. Each attempt brings more retaliation. And yet Invisible Children supports military intervention.”

I can assure you everyone at IC is painfully aware of this reality.

The reasons stated is one of the chief reasons why the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act was drafted. The only way to capture Joseph Kony without creating a major threat to the innocent around him is to use sophisticated military intelligence gathering methods to prepare an unpredictable ambush. This is something the UPDF is incapable of doing on their own.

To me, the writer also seems to be implying that IC supported Operation Lightning Thunder in 2008 / 2009. That was never my impression when that operation was going on. A peaceful resolution with Joseph Kony has been pursued exhaustively. The most recent talks collapsed in 2008 in Juba. I remember the heartbreak of all of us who were advocating for peace when it happened.

Kony used the time of peace to regroup his armies and then launched one of his worst offenses in recent memory six months after the Juba talks ended.

Popular support of military intervention has come after every other conceivable option has been attempted without success. Something isn’t always better than nothing, but it is in this situation, I believe it is.

To close, I will point you to a video of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, so eloquently telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow why she supports the President sending military advisors.