Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Briefing for Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mixed Feelings About Kony 2012

I may lose some Facebook friends and blog readers over this one.  Whatever.
Many of you no doubt have seen the excellent video which continues to go viral pertaining to the Kony 2012 project.  You can watch it (it's a bit lengthy, although well produced) here:


In case you don't have 29 minutes to watch the video, let me try my best to distill this down for you.

Joseph Kony is a piece of garbage who enslaves kids, rapes and tortures many of them, and forces others to become soldiers in his army.  He forces his child soldiers to kill their own parents and mutilate their contemporaries.  He operates in several African countries, including Uganda, the Sudans and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

I first became aware of his pathetic existence two or three years ago when I saw the documentary on Reverend Sam Childers.  Childers is the "Machine Gun Preacher" after whom the movie with that title is based.  Childers is a former motorcycle gang member who accepted Christ and began making trips to South Sudan to help the children affected by Kony's war on children.  In addition to building orphanages, Childers picked up an AK-47 and began engaging Kony's operatives in an effort to stop the slaughter of thousands of innocent children, hence his nickname.

I even did a Sunday School lesson on Childers a while back, posing the question: Can Christians justify the use of deadly force to save children? 

Now we have the Kony 2012 project.  The producer and narrator of the video encourages us to keep putting pressure on Congress to keep the United States "military advisers" sent to the region to aid the lawful forces there bring Kony to justice, to end the violence against the people of the region from a ruthless thug.

And now I'm puzzled, for many reasons, to wit:

  • Where were these same Kony 2012 protesters when we made the decision to go into Iraq and Afghanistan?  Weren't children being denied basic rights in Afghanistan?  Weren't innocent people being oppressed, mutilated  and murdered in Iraq?  Why is it kosher to commit military resources to "bring Kony to justice" (I place it in quotes because a .50 caliber round to his cranium would be far more efficient and make for a bigger splash.  Literally.) but it's NOT okay to chase the Taliban and Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan?  Or to stop the abuses of Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and others who were brutalized by him?
  • Once in our nation's not so distant past, we sent "military advisers" into a country to fight tyranny and oppession.  A decade and 50,000 flag draped coffins later, we ended our involvement in Vietnam.  Is the leadership of Kony 2012 okay with more resources being sent to the region, with the possibility of servicemen deaths which naturally flows from such escalations? 
Let me make this abundantly clear, lest you misunderstand me - I fully support the efforts to rid the world of Joseph Kony and the mission of Kony 2012, either by throwing him in prison or by injecting him with a large dose of lead.  But the ironies of the Kony 2012 mission cannot go unnoticed.  To those on the political left, why is this military involvement acceptable but our Afghanistan involvement isn't?  And for those on the political right, why is going into Afghanistan and Iraq, with the concomitant debt and deaths, acceptable to you, but taking out some punk ass bitch who rapes and mutilates children in Uganda isn't worth our trouble?
And if you're a Libertarian, do you simply say "this doesn't concern us" and walk away?  And at what point is it acceptable for a free society to look at that situation and say "When will the local men and women pick up a rifle and fight back?"  After all, that's precisely what the American colonists did some 236 years ago, against a tyrannical government which couldn't hold a candle to the brutality Kony dishes out on a regular basis.

Friends, I don't have the answers to these questions.  But I do know that our national attitudes on issues like this seem inconsistent, from both sides of the political spectrum.  The Kony 2012 project illustrates, along with the need to rid ourselves of Joseph Kony, why our nation needs to completely re-think the philosophies driving our military and foreign policies.


  1. Excellent points. Well said.

    - Hsoi

  2. Paul, so very, very interesting.

    I confess I haven't kept up with the goings-on surrounding the Kony 2012 project but was aware of general brutality in that area. Anyway -- I just wanted to say that I appreciate your perspective and your pointing out what bugs the snot out of me when it comes to our political system. I hate the inconsistencies -- the money and special interests and back room deals basically deciding such important matters.

    I've often said that if just one candidate (any party) would get up and say something HONEST without spin and hype and party-line rhetoric, I'd vote for him/her. Pretty much doesn't matter what it is -- I'd simply appreciate the honesty. LOL.

    Anyway -- that's what I've loved about Ron Paul. Most of what he says flies in the face of convention because it's his conviction (at least that's my perception), and I love that.

    So, thanks for this post. ;)

  3. I can only speak for myself. I thought something needed to be done about the Taliban prior to 9/11, but would have been reluctant to send in troops because of its history as the graveyard of empires. I was opposed to invading Iraq because, well, what I predicted would happen was wrong only in that I was too optimistic -- I knew it would be a mess and it sure as heck was.

    The "left," which is hardly monolithic, is, well, not monolithic. Opinions vary widely as to whether, when, and how we should apply power in human rights situations. Actually, a lot of folks I was reading on the left thought Iraq was a bad idea precisely because it took resources away from Afghanistan.

    Are these folks actually suggesting a military intervention? I have not watched the video, myself. I know about the Lord's Resistance Army enough to know its leaders must be pretty bad people, so I don't have to watch a video to learn that. I can imagine though, all sorts of potential problems. And then there's Assad. What the heck are we supposed to do about that? If it were possible to cleanly swoop in and arrest the leadership -- but it isn't, and then the resulting political chaos would be on our plate.

    I actually think the so-called "Clinton Doctrine" sums up my own thinking on this kind of thing -- do what we can where our values and interests intersect, paying attention to practical realities. Which is always going to be a complicated calculus.