Resolve, Enough! So Called â€œPeaceâ€ Organizations Promote War In Uganda
By omitting reference to Museveni â€“or claiming that Kony is the â€œone manâ€ holding the region hostage, Resolve wants to divert attention away from Museveniâ€™s own role, which is much larger, in the atrocities and bloodletting that has blanketed Central Africa since the 1980s; not only Uganda.
Two American organizations that claim to fight human rights abuses in Africa are functioning like public relations agencies on behalf of the Ugandan dictatorship during what’s been billed as "Lobby Days" from June 22-23 in Washington, D.C.
The two organizations may stoke the flames of conflict rather than resolve the calamity in Central Africa.
Resolve, which once had a semblance of respectability, is the official host; John Prendergast, the leader of an outfit called Enough! is one of the speakers and his organization advocates for a military solution to Central African conflicts on its website. Please see http://www.enoughproject.org/
So what could have been a serious gathering to address the conflict in Central Africa –Uganda, DR Congo, Rwanda, and the Sudan— has been reduced into a public relations fest on behalf of the Ugandan dictatorship.
By logging on Resolve's glitzy website, the keen observer can sense the lack of seriousness. The bright colors; the smiling images; the flashy displays; all are more suitable for a website promoting a rock concert rather than a gathering to help explore the roots behind genocide in Central Africa and possible solutions. Please see http://www.resolveuganda.org/
The more serious conference awaits to be organized.
Under the heading "How It Ends," in reference to Uganda's 23-years of militarism that has claimed perhaps 10 million civilian lives and that of very few combatants, the organizers boldly proclaim: "Come to our Lobby Days in Washington, D.C. this June 22-23rd and help stop the one man holding an entire region hostage. It's time for Africa's longest-running war to be over, and this is how it ends...."
"With your help, the biggest lobby day in American history will be history in the making, leading to long overdue peace and safety for the children caught in the crossfire of Joseph Kony’s war," the organizers claim.
While cross-fire implies that Kony, who is the Leader of the notoriously vicious Lord’s Resistance Army, responsible for so much atrocities, is shooting at another combatant, the organizers deliberately omit the name of his nemesis; Uganda’s president General Yoweri Museveni.
The difference between the two is that Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court; Museveni has not yet been indicted.
So how can “one man” be responsible when there are two combatant armies? The malicious dishonesty and duplicity starts early. There are many reasons for this propaganda ploy; we’ll address two of them.
By omitting reference to Museveni –or claiming that Kony is the “one man” holding the region hostage, Resolve, possibly out of its own accord, more likely due to influence of Enough! wants to divert attention away from Museveni’s own role, which is much larger, in the atrocities and bloodletting that has blanketed Central Africa since the 1980s; not only Uganda.
There’s no question that had Uganda not invaded Rwanda on October 1, 1990, there never would have been genocide in 1994; there’s no question that Uganda’s army committed genocide in eastern Congo, as affirmed by the World Court in 2005, when it occupied the region from 1997-2003; and there’s no question that the Museveni regime, by confining two million civilians in concentration camps in the northern part of the country, where about 520,000 may have died over a 10 year period, using World Health Organization estimates, has committed what a critic Olara Otunnu, former United Nations Under Secretary General responsible for children in conflict areas has called “slow motion genocide.”
Please see http://www.who.int/hac/crises/uga/sitreps/Ugandamortsurvey.pdf
Yet Resolve –and Enough! – reckon, it’s Kony who is “the one man” holding the region hostage. Not the one who has presided over possibly 10 million deaths: one million in Rwanda; seven million in Congo; and two million in Uganda.
The second reason why Museveni is omitted in the “cross fire” is the fact that Museveni does not sell as well as Kony. Even though Museveni is responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans, he does not have the demonic popular media characteristic, such as, for example, the late Idi Amin, whose excesses now pale in comparison to Museveni's, has; or that Kony has.
More Americans know who Kony, the “evil” leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army is, and many more still recall Amin, compared to the numbers that know Museveni. The Ugandan dictator is educated, well read and pays millions of dollars to public relations agencies in Europe and the United States to brush up his image.
Museveni is what one might call, a brainy, meticulous and scholarly killer; unlike the buffoonish Amin or the unread and messianic Kony, both of whom never attempted to generate an aura of plausible deniability.
Besides, it takes a special skill.
So while Michael Poffenberger, the co-founder and executive director of Resolve, knows in his heart that Museveni’s militarism has caused the most destruction in Central Africa, he chooses to indulge in fantasy. He pretends that merely by eliminating Kony, peace will be restored, and, celestial choirs will sing, to borrow a term from Hillary Clinton.
Moreover, Poffenberger knows that Kony sells. Who wants to come to a conference to “Examine The Roles Played By Museveni and Kony In Central Africa’s Genocide” even though that would be a more honest theme?
Kony is a “monster” in the popular Western psyche—comparable to one of those macabre characters in Hollywood horror movies. A character who would steal American children at night; after all he has kidnapped Ugandan children into the ranks of his army.
So, Poffenberger knows that he has to sell his gathering around Kony’s name. People who attend and who send money will be contributing to “fighting Kony” the purported “one man” holding the region hostage.
Even Museveni invokes Kony’s name to gain military hardware and training from the United Kingdom and the U.S.; notwithstanding the fact that the weapons are rarely used to pursue Kony, but in wars of conquest and pillage, in Rwanda and Congo.
Who can blame Poffenberger for invoking Kony’s name in vane?
On Resolve’s website there is a "donate" button. "Will you donate $25 today, and help make peace possible for the victims of this war?” states the appeal, “Your donation is crucial to the success of our work. Your generosity makes a difference.”
Potential donors have the option to donate as much as $50, $100, or $250, if they prefer.
Nowhere is it explained how money to Resolve can "make peace possible for the victims of this war."
Will Resolve give the money to Kony and plead with him to take it and lay down his arms? Perhaps to Museveni to persuade him to retire having been in power for 25 years and seeking more? Only Poffenberger knows.
One thing for sure; Kony and Museveni have created a global multi-billion dollar industry through the years. Should Kony demise the scene eventually, many blood-stained jobs will disappear.
If Resolve and Enough! were serious would they not say something about the recent report by Human Rights Watch detailing how the Bush Administration worked with the Museveni regime, which engages in torture?
In "Open Secret" issued on April 8, 2009, Human Rights Watch disclosed that the United States provided $5 million in military assistance to President Museveni's government in 2008 even though it engaged in torture. The Leahy Amendment bars U.S. military assistance to such countries.
Please see http://www.hrw.org/en/node/82072/section/6
“Uganda’s foreign partners have largely failed to address serious human rights violations by security forces in Uganda, including its counterterrorism forces,” says the Human Rights Watch report, which is ironically, a critique also befitting Resolve and Enough!
Make no mistake Resolve will resolve nothing during “Lobby Days” and beyond except build up its own reputation and gain further fame for Poffenberger; a “courageous young man” engaged in the fight against the “evil” Joseph Kony.
Yet, it’s a dangerous approach.
By pretending that it’s only Kony’s LRA which engages in human rights abuses in Uganda, when Poffenberger knows that the atrocities also committed by Museveni’s army have been well documented by Uganda media and by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, it complicates the work of others that are more serious in resolving the war in Uganda.
Activists and champions of peace, democratization, and accountability, know that the atrocities committed by both sides need to be exposed to the maximum, to force both sides to eventually negotiate in earnest.
So, if one were in Museveni’s shoes today, with organizations such as Resolve and Enough! doing the public relations work on his behalf and ingratiating his regime towards American lawmakers, what incentive would one have to engage with Kony’s LRA?
In fact, there had been peace in Uganda and Congo’s Garamba province for as long as Museveni’s government and Kony’s LRA were engaged in talks from mid-2006 to the end of 2008.
A stalemate ensued in mid-2008 and Kony refused to sign a final peace deal, claiming he wanted the arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court quashed. Even though members of parliament from Acholi, the war affected area pressed for more dialogue, Museveni sent his army into Garamba with the involvement of U.S. military personnel.
It was a gift from George W. Bush; from one militarist to another. And as often with Bush’s gifts –remember the Iraqis were supposed to greet American troops with flowers?—the mission blew up.
The so-called “Operation Thunder” backfired and Kony eluded capture, embarrassing both President Bush, and the Ugandan military. And as always, the civilians paid the price, when Kony’s LRA reportedly resorted to vengeance massacres against Congolese civilians.
Now Resolve –and Enough!—clearly not bothered by the possible loss of lives of African civilians are actually calling for the President Obama Administration to team up with Uganda’s dictator to launch further military operations in pursuit of Kony.
If the collateral damage –civilians—that will occur from more warfare were Europeans, Resolve and Enough! would not be advocating such preposterous insanity.
Senators Russ Feingold and Sam Brownback have introduced a Bill dealing with Uganda, with the name, “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009.”
Who is naive enough to believe that it's by mere coincidence that the Bill also sees only one party as the source of conflict? Was this drafted by Resolve? By Enough? With input from Kampala?
The Ugandan regime's agents are notorious for passing around "brown bags" filled with dollars; have some of these bags found their way to Washington?
The Bill contains some carrots, as when it calls for a multi-million dollar financing of recovery in Uganda’s devastated Acholi region. But the most insidious measure would have the United States align its government and military with Museveni's army in combat against Kony.
Section (3) of the Bill states that it's U.S. policy, in furthering the goal to end the conflict in northern and eastern Uganda and other affected areas by "eliminating the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army to civilians and regional stability through political, economic, military, and intelligence support for a comprehensive multilateral effort to protect civilians in affected areas, to apprehend or otherwise remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield, and to disarm and demobilize Lord’s Resistance Army fighters..."
Why would the United States want any association with Uganda’s military establishment when the International Criminal Court (ICC) is investigating Uganda's army for alleged war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a Wall Street Journal front page story from June 8, 2006?
How serious are the allegations against Museveni and his army? In its article The Wall Street Journal reported: “President Museveni of Uganda asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to block the Congo investigation, according to one person familiar with the matter. Mr. Annan replied that he had no power to interfere with the court, this person said.”
Museveni tried to sabotage the investigation into the alleged mass murder because he knew that Uganda's guilt had already been affirmed. In 2005, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which investigated the civil aspect of the war crimes allegations --massacres, mass rapes, and mass plunder of Congo's natural wealth-- found Uganda liable and awarded $10 billion to DR Congo in compensation.
Please see http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/116/10455.pdf
Are Senators Feingold and Brownback not aware of the ICC’s probe into Uganda’s alleged war crimes in the Congo?
After all, Jean Pierre Bemba, the warlord and former Congo vice president whose militia was trained, armed, and financed by Uganda is already on trial at the Hague on war crimes charges; he is said to have been spilling the beans on Museveni.
Resolve and Enough!’s claim that Kony is the “one man” holding the region hostage is preposterous. Not even the Uganda government newspaper, The New Vision, has ever made such an assertion. The Ugandan authorities know that lies have to be credible in order to be effective.
The Resolve and Enough! ploy also insults President Barack Obama; it teats him as if he were on the same intellectual level as President Bush, a war monger easily manipulated by Museveni.
Fortunately, not every Senator has been duped --or perhaps bought. Just before Museveni met with Bush for the last time at The White House on October 30, 2007, Senator John Kerry sent Bush a letter dated October 29, 2007 in which he observed that Uganda’s February 2006 election was “marred by intimidation, various voting irregularities, and a show of force by the government.”
“The main opposition candidate was harassed and put on trial,” Kerry wrote. “Regrettably, these events came on the heels of President Museveni pressuring the Ugandan parliament to lift the Constitution’s two-term limit on the presidency. Breaking his express promise to abide by the terms of the Constitution allowed President Museveni to seek reelection for a third time in 2006.”
“Given our strong interest in promoting democracy in Uganda and elsewhere around the world, I hope you take this opportunity both to ask President Museveni to reaffirm his commitment to the rule of law and to understand the steps he has taken since 2006 towards this end,” Kerry urged of Bush, who obviously ignored the advice.
President Obama, in his outreach towards North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba, has already made it clear that his Administration will always exhaust dialogue and diplomacy first. His government deserves to give it a try with respect to Uganda.
The best thing that President Obama could do for Uganda and for all of Central Africa is to appoint Senator Kerry a Special Envoy to see if he can help restore the Peace Talks to end 25 years of war in Uganda.
That way any charlatans who sugarcoat their nefarious designs by pretending to advocate for peace can be brushed aside.
Readers contact Senator Kerry's office at (202) 224-2742 and ask the Senator to oppose the section in the Bill dealing with U.S.-Uganda military co-operations.
Also contact Senators Feingold at (202) 224-5323 or via fax (202) 224-2725 and Brownback at (202) 224-6521 and Fax: (202) 228-1265 and demand that they remove the clause authorizing U.S. military operation with the Ugandan army which is being investigated by the ICC on war crimes charges.
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