Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
The Kony Crusades

Saving Africans from African Savagery

by ANN GARRISON

The hunt for the infamous Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are back in the news.  Some even say Kony’s sick, and might surrender. Nevertheless, leading humanitarian militarist John Prendergast and his ENOUGH Project, based in the Center for American Progress, have just published a new list of Kony/LRA hunting urgencies: Blind Spots: Gaining Access to Areas Where the LRA Operates. They say that U.S. Special Forces and our African “military partners,” meaning primarily the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), need more helicopters, vehicles, communications, and funds. All to gain more access to remote regions in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the phantom Kony might be hiding. In 2012, Prendergast published a Foreign Policy editorial, “Let Them Hunt,” which began, “If President Obama is serious about wanting to apprehend Joseph Kony, he’s got to unleash the dogs of war.”  (And let them hunt.)

Warlord Joseph Kony is the singular East African evildoer identified in the viral film that quickly became a global laughingstock: KONY 2012.  Aljazeera reported that, when it was finally screened on a sheet stretched between two metal rods in rural Northern Uganda, “the event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organizers and the press running for cover until the dust settled.”  And, that “while the film has a viral power never seen before in the online community, it did not go down nearly so well with the very people it claims it is meant to help.”

The film’s creators, Jason Russell and Jedediah Jenkins, are white evangelical hipsters on a mission to save Africans from African savagery. Their non-profit corporation, Invisible Children, is a well-funded astroturfing operation which exists to help John Prendergast lobby the U.S. Commander-in-Chief for more U.S. troops and military operations in East Africa and Central Africa.

Prendergast makes a cameo appearance in KONY 2012. He’s also an evangelist, for U.S. Mass Atrocities Response Operations (MARO), as is his longtime colleague, UN Ambassador and former NSC Advisor Samantha Power. The epic violence occasioned by U.S. and European resource imperatives is not among the mass atrocities they’ve resolved to eradicate.

I left several comments on Prendergast’s latest Huffington Post exhortations about getting Kony, all of which were met with this message: “Due to the potentially sensitive nature of this article, your comment may take longer to appear publicly.”  All but a single line, which I wrote in response to another commenter who wants to off Omar al-Bashir, have yet to appear a week later.

Milton Allimadi, Ugandan American Editor of the New York City-based Black Star News, has done more than anyone to expose the Kony crusaders as lobbyists for expanding U.S. military presence in East Africa and Central Africa. He commonly uses “Hunt Kony = Secure Oil” as shorthand on Black Star, and on RT, Democracy Now, and Pacifica’s KPFA and WBAI. In December 2010, before South Sudan’s independence referendum, he explained, on KPFA, that an LRA-hunting outpost on the western border of the Central African Republic would also serve as a convenient frontline to weaken the government of Sudan in Khartoum and make it difficult for Sudan to launch an attack against South Sudan to settle disputes over their oil rich border regions and the oil pipeline running from South Sudan to Aden, Sudan’s port on the Red Sea.

I spoke to Milton again, at the end of last week, after Prendergast, ENOUGH, and Invisible Children’s latest lobbying efforts:

ANN GARRISON: Milton, the ENOUGH Project now says that the UPDF, aided by U.S. Special Forces, need access to remote regions in northeastern Congo, but that the UPDF hasn’t been allowed across the border since 2011, because they were plundering resources and Congolese believed they were also interfering in that year’s Congolese election. So, do you think they should be allowed across now, to hunt the LRA?

MILTON ALLIMADI: No no no, they should not be allowed to cross any territory, since Uganda’s General Yoweri Museveni has been implicated in using the proxy army M23 to terrorize Congolese, to massacre Congolese, to plunder from Congo.  And M23, which essentially is a proxy army of Uganda and Rwanda, has just been defeated by the UN Intervention Brigade. The issue of the LRA at this stage is just another one of those diversionary tactics and it does not make sense to anybody,  except the ENOUGH Project, perhaps.

AG: OK, second, ENOUGH says that the UPDF and U.S. Special Forces need access to remote regions of Darfur that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is not eager to grant them. What do you think of that? 

MA: The United States is not going to be involved in any new military exercise. The U.S. backed off from getting involved in Syria and there’s no appetite for the United States military forces to be engaged in any conflict in Africa. The ENOUGH Project is going to have to do a much better job to sell any new war that involves U.S. forces. And people have to really question what their true motive is. They should be focussing right now on securing the peace in eastern Congo, after the defeat of M23.  And it seems to be very sinister that they’re trying to turn attention to Joseph Kony at this point, when Central African Republic has a much bigger problem, when the United Nations has spoken about the possibility of genocide in Central Africa, by the various armies fighting there. Other forces – but not the LRA – have been mentioned in this urgent debate at the UN.  So why is the ENOUGH Project trying to force this Kony story onto the front pages now?

AG: OK, third, ENOUGH says the World Bank needs to build infrastructure so that the UPDF and U.S. Special Forces can get access to these remote regions.

MA: There are far better reasons to build infrastructure in Africa than to make way for a discredited army like the UPDF. Is the ENOUGH Project not aware that the Wall Street Journal published an article, on June 8, 2006, saying that Uganda’s President/General Yoweri Museveni asked then Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan to block an ICC investigation of alleged war crimes committed by the UPDF in Congo? Why is the ENOUGH Project not sending out a press release about that, and asking whether indeed somebody blocked an ICC investigation of possible war crimes committed by the UPDF, in Congo, under Commander-in-Chief General Yoweri Museveni?

AG: OK, lastly, ENOUGH says that the LRA is surviving in part by elephant poaching deep in the Congolese jungle, so they want to send the UPDF in, even though the New York Times correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman, and Congolese rangers, have said that the UPDF is itself responsible for poaching elephants by shooting them from military helicopters. 

MA: If anybody is to believe that even though Joseph Kony’s reported to be very sick, with a rag tag army of a few fighting men, he still has the capacity to poach elephants, fly away with the tusks and somehow land somewhere unseen, then we may as well believe that the LRA in fact are not on earth but live on Mars, and that they fly to earth on Martian ships, go back to Mars and come back whenever they feel like causing havoc. I would rather believe that than this story peddled by the ENOUGH Project.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, and the Black Star News and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  She can be reached from her website, anngarrison.com, or at ann@afrobeatradio.com.