Thursday, November 25, 2010

Apprehending Kony: Part II

A few weeks ago I blogged about the propriety of possible US intervention in Uganda, in a bid to end the campaign of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.  Apparently this is now set to actually go ahead, although only by proxy via support to Ugandan troops, rather than via physical US presence. 

Whether or not this is likely to have any impact is not clear, given that previous attempted purges of the LRA, even with the combined efforts of the various affected countries (such as snappily-titled "Operation Lightning Thunder"), have come to nothing. If anything they have only provoked further attacks. The new US-backed campaign, however, seeks to "promote the defection or disarmament of LRA fighters" rather than to tackle them head-on. This seems a reasonable policy given the fact that the vast majority of LRA fighters are abductees, many of whom would be more than happy to defect (although see Tim Allen's incisive account of the problems of reintegration, amongst other things). Even then, however, as long as Kony and the core of the LRA command remains, the insurgency is not likely to end, and the chances of catching a handful of individuals in this vast, impenetrable wilderness seems remote.

Moreover backing Uganda to carry out the job assumes a great deal of responsibility. The UPDF's (Ugandan armed forces) record on human rights and humanitarian law is far from spectacular and the emptying of Acholiland into camps has arguably generated greater mistreatment of individuals than the LRA's apocryphal campaign. The ICC's monitoring of the situation should, it is hoped, serve as a deterrent to future abuses.

Much to ponder. But above all we must hope that, however it is brought about, this area is soon purged of violence once and for all.

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