Friday, March 16

Kony 2012: African Civil War meets the Internet wristband brigade.






   African civil wars have always scored high on the atrocity scale.

   It turns out the Internet got wise to this last week by way of a slick YouTube video called Kony 2012 detailing the sick fuck exploits of Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda in the 2000s. Supposedly, this vid was produced to "raise awareness" of the child soldier armies that have been running around Africa ever since some warlord realized 12 year olds can be just as useful with an AK as any adult. 

   The whole "raising awareness" business always makes me cringe. Most times it's an excuse for rich people and celebrities to throw $2000 a plate charity parties to highlight another hell hole African war zone while photographers snap pictures of which star is banging the latest supermodel. Sure, a cursory Google search would deliver all the awareness of African misery you could wave a wristband and gift bag at, but if there's one thing the kids in our sci fi dystopia respond to these days, it's some slick ass marketing campaign. Before I hate all over the Kony 2012 vid, let's first take a look at the depression inducing mess that is post colonial sub Saharan Africa; specifically Uganda.

    Uganda is one damn scary place even by African standards.

   After the British left with the embassy furniture in 1962, the usual struggle for power erupted amongst the natives in newly independent Uganda. This resulted in a series of military coups with a slew of shady guys in suits vying for control using election fraud, torture and sudden disappearances as the standard set of banana republic political tools. Still, it wasn't until Idi Amin seized power in 1971 that Uganda's body count started aiming for a respectable high score. Amin managed to do away with 300,000 people in his eight year rule. After eight years, he'd pissed off enough people to get himself invaded by Ugandan exiles with the help of neighboring Tanzania. Of course, victories over dictators in Africa are rarely reasons to celebrate and usually just the prelude to more screwed up shit further down the road.

    This was certainly the case for Uganda in the 1980's. The current leader, Yoweri Museveni, has been in charge since 1986. A guerrilla fighter who knows his way around an AK, he fought Amin and also led the National Resistance Army in Uganda's Bush War from '81-'86 which was a power struggle against another warlord, Milton Obote, who'd held power after Idi Amin got exiled on the usual retirement plan for African dictators; Saudi Arabia. Museveni fit a suit well, didn't look too shabby on TV and quickly abandoned his Marxist ideals to gain support in the West. This got him a thumbs up from the World Bank and IMF who advocated the usual series of structural reforms to the Ugandan economy which ensured Western business could continue getting cheap shit out of yet another independent post colonial African hell hole. Museveni is no stranger to human rights abuses either and, just like Joseph Kony, his National Resistance Army have used child soldiers, forcibly displaced thousands, burned villages and executed hundreds. Still, this is Africa we're talking about so no guy in a suit is going to have clean hands.


Museveni with fellow dictator Gaddafi



    So where does this Joseph Kony asshole fit into Ugandan history?

  If Museveni gets a free pass from the international media on the whole war crimes front it's only because he comes up a saint compared to Kony. Kony is the kind of crazy fuck so far off reservation that even a Serbian couldn't make a decent torture porn flick about him because the sick fuck is just too sick for celluloid. If you want to understand Kony you have to take into account his people, the Acholi, a Sudanese tribe of which just over a million live in Northern Uganda. Discriminated against for years by the more civilized and prosperous elites in the south, the Acholi were pretty much used as cheap laborers by the British when Uganda was their protectorate. However, they proved themselves decent fighters and, after independence, made up a sizeable portion of the Ugandan army. Hoping to get a better deal and some respect, an Acholi general grabbed power in a military coup in 1985 but his reign lasted only six months and was toppled by current president Museveni. This set up a simmering low grade civil war by the Acholi against Museveni's rule that lasts to this day.

   The Acholi are devout Christians, mainly Catholic and here is where we inject the crazy into an otherwise typical African power struggle. Once you bring religion into the equation, you know things are going to turn ugly fast. As soon as you infect your army with the mind virus that death is not real and that bullets, machetes and land mines don't kill you but send you to some paradise on the other side of existence, then you've pretty much got yourself an army of ruthless killers.

   Kony's outfit, the Lord's Resistance Army, grew out of the ideas of Kony's batshit insane cousin Alice Lakwena and her Holy Spirit Movement. In 1987, she proclaimed herself a prophet and convinced a size able portion of the down on their luck Acholi that they could defeat Museveni by worshipping Jesus more and covering their bodies in nut oil that would act like some kind of divine Kevlar and protect them from bullets. Her followers were also taught never to take cover and never to retreat from battle which are pretty fearsome tactics for any army right up until they encounter a well emplaced heavy machine gun nest.

   Still, emboldened by religious zeal, Lakwena's army scored some key victories and began to march south. Joseph Kony marched along with her duly noting the effective mixture of religion, AKs and bat shit insane. However, by 1988, the Holy Spirit Movement got their asses handed to them at the town of Jinja (when they ran up against actual heavy MGs), and Lakwena fled to Kenya. This pretty much left Kony in charge of a movement that morphed into the LRA. They laid low for a few years until the mid '90s when the LRA started receiving military support from the Sudanese who were pissed at Museveni's support for rebels in that country.

   As they grew in strength, the LRA under Kony started flexing their muscles on the atrocity front. One of these was their policy of recruiting child soldiers. There's a dirty logic at work here and that is that child soldier armies are pretty fucking scary and effective. Once you ditch the morality of the whole thing, Kony, like a lot of African warlords, realized that a twelve year old can shoot an AK just as well as an adult can. Throw in a blank slate mind too young to have a conscience, some heroin, sprinkle in a little intimidation, convince the kids gunshot wounds send you on the express train to heaven and pretty soon you've got yourself a ruthless clone army of juvenile pint sized killers.





   Under Kony's tutelage, the LRA became a massacre crew that cut a swathe through northern Uganda, killing and intimidating everyone, even the Acholi people themselves who came to be seen by Kony as decadent and not loving Jesus enough. In 2002, LRA members encountered a funeral procession of mourners carrying a dead guy. At gunpoint, they forced the mourners to boil and eat the dead guy and then shot them all for doing it. The LRA went from village to village in the 2000s, killing thousands and displacing many more. There are plenty of reports of cannibalism, medieval type torture and child rape.

   It's hunter gatherer war like they've been fighting for millenia where you sneak up on the neighboring village, take out the sentries and then let the rape and pillage commence. You steal all the shit you need, usually livestock, the odd diesel generator, a DVD player and maybe some Hannah Montana jerk off material. Then you disappear back into the jungle laughing at Amnesty International's rage. It's dirty war. And it doesn't fit the clean war paradigm of the West where the bad guys get cut to pieces by 20mm from a hovering Apache or a 2000lb GBU-24 cleanly obliterates some goat herder's shack and doesn't leave too many body parts for us to stress about.

   Yeah, us Westerners like our killing long range and with minimal gore. That's why you've got to step way outside your comfort zone when dealing with wars fought on the cheap in Africa. Their kind of war is up close and personal and involves the kind of whites-of-their-eyes gore fest that hasn't been seen on Western battlefields since Agincourt. Hate and religion run deep in the Ugandan jungle. For a child soldier in Africa, a blank slate young mind gets acclimatized to the horror fast because there aren't many places to get treated for PTSD in the bush outside a bottle of vodka or stab of heroin.

   The LRA has been hard to defeat too. Congo, Sudan and the Ugandan Army attempted  to crush them in 2008 but even their combined efforts were unsuccessful. One problem is the LRA's mobility and their ability to cross national borders into neighboring countries all of which are as corrupt and suspicious of their neighbors as Uganda itself. The LRA are liable to attack when they're outside Uganda too, most recently in 2009 when they hacked up 300 in the Democratic Republic of Congo with machetes. They made off with eighty children, the boys as fighters and the girls as sex slaves.

   And now Kony is an international celebrity.

   The Kony 2012 vid on YouTube has made 100+ million viewers aware of just how ugly war in post colonial Africa can be. But the scary part about this simplified exercise in "raising awareness" is the elevation of Kony to a global pariah, the embodiment of evil warranting a military solution. What's scary is to what extent do millions of people on Facebook hitting the "Like" button translate into actual foreign policy?




   Am I saying do nothing?

   Nope.

   I'm saying something even worse. I'm saying there's nothing you can do. That's a pretty radical mental adjustment to make but if you live on this planet long enough you get acclimatized to the fact that we humans on the whole are pretty shitty creatures. Once you accept this fact, things sure get a lot easier. Sure, mass media and consumerism have us locked in to this fake reality of happy breakfast kitchens selling us high fiber cereal so we can shit better, energy companies selling eco friendly offshore drilling rigs and hybrid cars that only need a little Mid East oil to function; and that's when you have to face the really ugly truth; all of our consumertopia is built on the rape and pillage of people and places at far corners of the world. Just what countries will do to secure their energy supplies most citizens prefer not to know. It's like pre packaged meat at the supermarket... nobody wants to know exactly how that turkey breast ended up neatly wrapped in plastic.

   Truth is, nobody wants the 'naked lunch' moment where they actually examine what's on the end of their fork. Sure Joseph Kony is a bad guy. But there are many more in Africa just like him. General Butt Naked in Liberia during their civil war ate babies before battle. Now he's a street preacher, runs a mission and he's ever so sorry about the whole thing. He's PTSD free because his god has forgiven him. That right there is one of the most dangerous ideas ever that someone should make a video about. The Christian idea that you can commit any atrocity imaginable and be forgiven for it. But there's no Kony 2012 video assailing that far scarier idea, an idea that's gotten far more mileage in past wars than the warped actions of a single man in Africa.

   Another dangerous idea of Kony 2012 is that the emotionally manipulated masses could actually succeed in having some military action conducted just so some sleazy politician can get re elected. Will simplistic explanations of long running wars become the future of foreign policy? Holy shit that's a scary idea! What'd be next, intervention in Syria and the declaration of a no fly zone because some well funded think tank runs a slick video on Assad's sleazy regime? If this Kony vid succeeds in getting Joseph Kony killed then that'll set a terrifying precedent. Crowd sourced intervention in foreign conflict launched by a bunch of ill informed YouTubers is the kind of thing that should make anyone with a passing interest in global conflict shit bricks.

   The 21st century already has a whole host of proxy resource wars lined up.

   Even Jesus would agree, we don't need any more.




   

43 comments:

  1. I was hoping you'd write about this Kony bullshit.

    Great stuff as usual. Please post more often WT. I need a weekly fix at least!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Excellent perspective!

    ReplyDelete
  3. the fact that this picture of the smarmy hipsters in charge of Kony 2012 playing with guns in front of local color didn't come up once was a bit of a let down.

    http://assets.vice.com/content-images/contentimage/no-slug/26c1ea8189c331cad4f60c83b1a06aaf.jpg

    But, spectacular insight as always Tard.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just out of curiosity if you were forced to deal with this situation what would you do? I get that you don't think it can be dealt with, but that just makes it all the more challenging when you are forced to deal with it anyways.

    I realize this is as naive a request as asking you for your plans to bring world peace or some equally intractable goal. Pretend you are the Chinese and you just want some resources but need to settle things into a manageable situation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ಠ_ಠ

    "You steal all the shit you need, usually livestock, the odd diesel generator, a DVD player and maybe some Hannah Montana jerk off material"

    I loled and then felt dirty.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Top stuff as always. Hope all is well. Looking forward to more of your perspectives.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very thankful for your efforts here, a great read. Hope kony fanbois read this. Fucking stupid gen y.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for a great article WArtard

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great shit as always. People think that just because they can share a vid or like it on the internet, they can make a difference. If only it were that easy...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Good story as always, hope to see more soon. Happy Paddy's day!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great blog wartard. Stumbled on this by accident, after looking for the phrase 'world of Tard' following a recent experience in the Midwest...

    Anyway, have now have forwarded to my fellow tards who like the sheer enjoyment of watching far away wars on the tv.

    This Ugandan chap. How hard could it be to get rid of him if there was political will to do so?

    Shame the US and other developed countries can't agree on a solution to end these nastly little wars.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Brilliant deconstruction as usual.
    Shame you didn't get the chance to mention that IC twat getting picked up running around naked and losing the plot near his house in suburban fuckville.
    Oh...it all got a bit much...hahaha...maybe he needs a stab of H to calm him down :-)

    Thanks for sharing bro...you are a shadow warrior of sanity.
    Respect!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You didn't mention it, but it seems like you were against Obama sending SF in last year. Why? He has no friends anywhere so we won't step on any toes. He's an unequivocal shitbag. The situation really can't get much worse. What I mean by that is that it's not like like the cartels where if you start killing Sinaloa/Zetas leaders you could get a kind of hydra effect. It's a small group that everyone hates that frankly does not have the economic incentive to grow back if it suffers a big hit.

    This is one of the few instances we have a green light, an absolute green light, domestically and internationally to kill religious fundamentalists. I would think the pleasure you would derive from that alone would sway you to support something small. Do I like tweens, hipsters, and pseudo-intellectuals lecturing me about Kony and giving political leverage to some shitbag to get elected again- No!

    But I don't see why we shouldn't support a limited op against LRA. Even if it's only a drop in the ocean it still helps. And as far as supporting this kind of thing would set a precedent for future bullshit. I could buy that argument if I actually thought the current state of our government/military needed a precedent, but they don't they are already doing whatever the fuck they want.

    C'mon son, we both know there ain't gonna be no Syria intervention, especially from some video.

    -R

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great read. Thanks for cutting through the fog. I suppose the Kony guy jerking off naked in public is the ultimate proof of your argument. The liberals should shut the fuck up.

    Seems like you were right. Raising awareness is risky business.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The truth about the K0NY movement...
    http://i.imgur.com/K3mgn.jpg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I lol'd, cried and then sharted.

      Delete
  16. I've read every post on your blog and I think this is one of the best. Look forward to your next one.

    ReplyDelete
  17. U.S. Strategic Interests in Uganda
    http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/us-strategic-interests-uganda

    In other words. Uganda has oil. US must get troops on the ground and be friends with Museveni before Chinese do.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Holy Shit ... great read!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm an atheist (pretty common in my country), but I'd have to disagree with you on the idea that the Christian idea of forgiveness is dangerous. Firstly while I'm no expert (being atheist) I'm pretty sure that it doesn't apply where you've preplanned the atrocity on the basis that you can just be forgiven afterwards - there are certain bona fides difficulties there.

    And would it really make ANY difference, good OR bad, if he was downing booze out of guilty and becoming a hobo? Ok, that might have some karma to it, but more likely he'd be living it up, rich from his ill-gotten gains. I'd rather that the guy recognise that his gains come from a tainted source, give them to charity, and spend his time telling others not to do what he did. Does it make up for what he did? Probably not. But at a practical level, it's more helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I agree, having youtubers decide on what country will have the next military intervention is a bit draconic and reminds me of the Coliseum...then again US should make an example of these Bushwhacking killers. Just because these things are common in the country, it does not mean that US should not use our leverage to alter these facts and better the surrounding communities.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Everytime I read something like this it seems to me the main problem people have with it is they feel people who push that "like" button somehow now think of themselves as activists. Look at the meme you put up. But not everyone thinks they just won the war in Uganda.

    I still believe any form of education is good.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Only one other anonymous comment about the oil in Uganda?
    Thats usually quite the motivater.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oil, Precious Metals, Diamonds and perfect location to stage random incursions into DRC for their minerals....these people live the same way weather under colonial rule or otherwise. They kill, take and live by the ancient standards of survival of the fittest.

      Delete
  23. I'll add my vote to the kudos above. It really is scary how we have allowed emotionalism to replace reason in our governance. It makes me think of the movie The Queen, in which the title character was entirely correct in her dismay at the cult of personality surrounding Princess Diana. And how fitting that is was Tony Blair who (if the movie is to be believed) showed her the "error" of her ways.

    ReplyDelete
  24. As the world turns to crap you got your popcorn and rear end in a chair enjoying it all as a spectator. "Do Nuthin" is your theme. Let's see: Syria is in the Iranian/Russian sphere of influence...do nuthin; learn to love da bomb because soon every country will have their own...so with Iran...do nuthin; millions are and have been slaughtered in Africa...do nuthin (sounds like you watched The Godfather too many times); on the other hand according to you the Jews did nuthin by not making a peace deal with a people who don't think that Israel should exist, therefore, the current mideast situation is all the fault of the Jews.


    Writing historical essays is easy. Trying to predict the future using a magic 8 ball is easy too. I look forward to something more intelligent than "do nuthin" . My prediction: a hundred years from now Uganda will be populated by 125 million Chinese. Take that to the bank, and when it comes to modern warfare, not machetes, start thinking 21st century and less whether or not Israeli planes can make it to Teheran and back without refueling.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I made a Kony meme on my parent's computer, I saved Uganda!

    ReplyDelete
  26. where are you, wartard? this is the longest gap between updates yet

    ReplyDelete
  27. +1 on that. Missing your analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Sorry guys. Been busy with real life stuff. I'm working on a new post for next week.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I can wait, take your time.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Must... have... wartard...article...so...weak...ahh...I...can't hold on......ughhhhhh

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anon at 12:53 could you turn off your computer and save the world. Lead the way Commander and start the revolution. We'll be waiting.

    ReplyDelete
  32. That's it boys, we's gotta do somethin' I here out west things is bettah, I hear they got new Wartard articles out californy way!

    ReplyDelete
  33. WHERE IS THE TARD?

    ReplyDelete
  34. THATS IT WARTARD! CANADA IS GOING ON STRIKE TILL YOU GIVE US A NEW ARTCLE! FEEL OUR WRATH!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Australia is supporting Canada in this strike.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I am so upset why are you doing this to me wartard

    ReplyDelete
  37. Genius takes time.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Maybe the tard can give us a teaser on the topic? otherwise I'll have to back this strike! feel the wrath of no more Neighbours or Home and Away! I might even see if the Wiggles can back the strike, you have been warned, the ball is in your court now ;)

    ReplyDelete
  39. New post... delivered!

    "Are you not entertained!?"

    Seriously though, thank you all for giving a shit.

    ReplyDelete
  40. You are "the" man. Thank you. Beer in the fridge, pizza in the oven. The parade goes on...

    ReplyDelete