Is the Lord’s Resistance Army our business?

Many U.S. interventions against evil tyrants during the past 30 years have turned out badly.   The U.S. way of war involves massive use of air power, which inevitably creates casualties among innocent civilians, and the rulers put in power by these interventions have often been as dubious as the rulers that were overthrown.

I would like to see the United States adopt the “humble” foreign policy advocated (but not carried out) by George W. Bush in the 2000 election campaign—a policy based on the realization that the United States does not have the standing or the power to dictate to the rest of the world, and that the mission of the U.S. armed forces should be to defend their country, not to dominate the world.

In spite of this, I can’t object to President Obama’s decision to send 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to advise on how to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.  They are not being sent to overthrow a regime.  They are being sent to support legitimate governments against a rebel terrorist organization guilty of mass killing, mutilation, and rape, and the kidnapping and brainwashing of young children into being soldiers and sex slaves.

Daba Emmanuel, a Ugandan villager forcibly recruited into the LRA in 2008, escaped to tell journalist Graeme Wood how the LRA entered a village, chose the children they wanted as slaves and locked everybody else into a church, was set on fire.  Those who tried to escape were hacked to pieces with machetes.

Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.   Congress in 2009 enacted a law authorizing aid to Uganda to suppress the LRA.   In passing the law, Congress cited studies that say the LRA over two decades has abducted 60,000 children and displaced 2 million villagers.

Now it is possible that intervention against the LRA will turn out to be a mistake.  Maybe 100 U.S. troops can’t really help in a place where they don’t know the terrain and don’t speak the language.  Maybe 15 years from now the U.S. will be bogged down in a quagmire war in central Africa, and the real reason for the intervention will have turned out to be central Africa’s rare earth minerals, which are vital to military and civilian electronics.   But I don’t think so.  Given what we know, this intervention is justified.

The Lord’s Resistance Army originated in the 1980s with a prophetess named Alice Lawena, who claimed the Holy Spirit told her to overthrow the Ugandan government because of its injustice to the Acholi people of northern Uganda.  After her Holy Spirit Movement was defeated by the Ugandan army, she went into exile.   Joseph Kony, a fighter in a rebel movement called the Ugandan People’s Democratic Army, reportedly her nephew or her cousin, took leadership of her movement and renamed it the Lord’s Resistance Army.

At different times, Kony has moved his army into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and the South Sudan.  His professed program is justice for the Acholi people and a society based on the Ten Commandments—even though Kony has violated every one of them.

Click on Joseph Kony’s Long Walk To, and From, Hell for Graeme Wood’s report, which was reprinted in The Atlantic Monthly.

Click on Invisible Children for the web site of the organization that produced the video above.

Click on Breaking God’s Commandments: the destruction of childhood by the Lord’s Resistance Army for a report by Amnesty International.

Click on A Plan B for President Obama: Get Tough on Human Rights for a call by Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, for U.S. intervention against the LRA.

Click on Why Is President Obama Sending Troops Against the Lord’s Resistance Army? for an article by Max Fisher in The Atlantic Monthly expressing misgivings about U.S. involvement in a conflict where no important U.S. interests are at stake.

Click on Rush Limbaugh transcript for Limbaugh’s defense of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  [Added 10/18/11]

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