A video titled “KONY 2012” recently made the rounds of the internet via various social networks. The video, which is approximately thirty minutes long, is designed to make the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony internationally known and to justify launching a campaign against him and hunting him down. This campaign, however, reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of social networks.
Without question, the reaction to the video has been overwhelming. Putting together all the video-sharing websites, the video has been watched by over 100 million viewers. Reaching the world public for a social concern with a relatively small budget is something the initiators of the “Invisible Children” campaign deserve to take credit for. Without doubt, the Kony-led “Lord’s Resistance Army” have committed many brutal war crimes.
However, the other combatants in this conflict, the “Sudan People’s Liberation Army” (SPLA), and the Ugandan military are anything but champions of peace and respect for human rights. They are, however, financially supported by “KONY 2012.” Prior to the campaign, the SPLA had already been supplied with weapons by the Bush administration and its soldiers were trained by the U.S. Army. And as recently as January, UNICEF reported that the SPLA is increasingly recruiting children for their army.
In the opaque conflicts on the African continent, where the ambitions of local warlords are intertwined with those of imperialist powers and multinational corporations, none of the present belligerents merit any support. All these belligerents are causing untold of harm to the local population, which is exploited by foreign profiteers.
The U.S. Army has deployed 100 soldiers in Uganda, and in the KONY 2012 video, this is attributed to the campaign. Furthermore, the video attempts to convince the viewer that this is the first time that the U.S. Army is being used, not for predatory economic interests, but in the interests of the local people.
In 2007, oil reserves of 2.4 million barrels were found in the area around Lake Albert, on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In August of the same year, armed clashes occurred in the area. Subsequently, The Economist wrote: “Landlocked Uganda cannot afford instability on the lake if it is to attract the foreign investment needed to extract and export oil.”
It is therefore no surprise that the U.S. soldiers that are allegedly to hunt Joseph Kony, were deployed to Uganda, although the Lord’s Resistance Army had already left Uganda in 2006 for the DR Congo and Sudan. However, if Western companies are to invest in the Lake Albert area, the border has to be secured. In the daily war for resources, frequent military attacks on oil extraction facilities would have to be expected. The line in the video that says “[sending the troops was] not for self-defense, but because it was right” is thereby utter misleading to say the least!
Whether consciously or unconsciously, the initiators of “KONY 2012” are de facto supporting the aggressive foreign policy of U.S. imperialism in the region. They provide no analysis of the real interrelations on the ground, and, as we have pointed above, Kony is not the only one using child soldiers or other horrors such as mass rape. By ignoring the complexity of the issue, they conveniently become a cover for U.S. military operations.
Any sane and rational human being will wish to stop the use of children in such wars. Unfortunately, to achieve this, it is not enough to share a video via Facebook or to convince representatives of the capitalist state that “something must be done.” The question is, in whose interests would the imperialists intervene? Replacing one warlord with another, equally brutal one, is no solution.
The problem is not the individual warlord as such, but the conditions that lead to the creation of such personalities. Only the elimination of those conditions, which can only come about by eliminating capitalism, can begin to address the real problem. Only socialism can lay the basis for a society that can guarantee every human—especially in crisis-ridden Central Africa—a life of dignity and safety.
The potential for a movement in Africa to eradicate capitalism exists. This has been proved in the past months by a series of big strikes and revolutionary movements in several countries on the African continent, from Nigeria to South Africa, Tunisia to Egypt.