Oh tumblr, how I love you.
Campaigns like “Kony 2012” aspire to frame the debate about these criminals and inspire action to stop them. Instead, they simply conscript our outrage to advance a specific political agenda — in this case, increased military action.
African leaders, after all, are adept at pursuing their own agendas by using the resources that foreign players inject and the narratives that they prefer — whether the post-9/11 war on terror or the anti-Kony crusade. And these campaigns succeed by abducting our anger and holding it hostage. Often they replace the fanaticism of evil men with our own arrogance, and, worse, ignorance. Moreover, they blind us by focusing on the agents of evil and not their principals.
Mr. Kony has continued to benefit from the patronage of Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, but even more so from the rivalry between Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, and the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni. That rivalry can be traced to the late 1990s, when Uganda occupied Congo before being forced to finally withdraw in 2003 under international pressure and accusations of plunder and rape. Mr. Kabila has turned a blind eye to the L.R.A. because it serves as a counterweight against Ugandan influence in eastern Congo.
Mr. Kony’s relocation to Congo followed many failed attempts to uproot him, including Operation Iron Fist and the establishment of the Ministry for the Pacification of the North. Meanwhile, accusations abounded of members of the Ugandan Army’s top brass enriching themselves, including through the padding of payrolls with dead “ghost soldiers,” as billions were spent on defense.
A scorched-earth policy that drove Mr. Kony’s victims into camps for “internally displaced persons” led to thousands of deaths from disease while L.R.A. fighters snaked back during the rainy season, under bush cover, to abduct and kill.
When “Kony 2012” was shown in northern Uganda, people reacted to it with anger, frustration and fear. Aside from the fact that Mr. Kony was no longer in the country, many Ugandans did not want to be reminded of him.”