AFRICOM could tackle LRA

By Scott A Morgan

In the arena of international diplomacy, frustration with a political party or insurgency movement can lead to unique opportunities.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold has sponsored a congressional bill to tackle the LRA.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold has sponsored a congressional bill to tackle the LRA.

Sometimes this gives rise to new strategic alliances being formed between old adversaries. There also could be changes regarding how legislative bodies determine not only how dollars are spent in a country but how the President conducts such policy.

Earlier this year, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin introduced the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. This Bill, which has widespread bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress, will call upon the Obama Administration to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with the LRA.

The main point of controversy is the fact that all options are to be considered. This includes having AFRICOM (African Command) play an increased role in the apprehension of Joseph Kony, the mystical leader of the LRA. In December 2008, AFRICOM provided logistical support for Operation Lightning Thunder but the operation yielded very little strategic benefits.

There is ample debate about whether or not AFRICOM should actually play a role in this crisis. Senator Feingold believes that supporting viable and legitimate efforts to disarm and demobilize the LRA is just what the command should be engaged in. However some critics feel that this law could damage AFRICOM.

Having Congress legislate this effort could lead to mission creep however well intentioned it may be. Congress could decide to have US forces intervene in other crisis spots such as Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Somalia at their whim. There is a call for an increased US Role in the Darfur crisis and the US has already sent forces into Somalia twice since 1991.

The arguments for and against having AFRICOM tackle the LRA situation which currently involves four different countries has merit. This will be a decision that will not be made lightly.

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The author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. It can be found at morganrights.tripod.com

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2 Responses

  1. Since AFRICOM has already participated in a failed mission with Ugandan forces, it would be wiser for AFRICOM to lay low, rather than face another sticky situation with massive casualties.

    This time it would be much harder for AFRICOM to distance itself from the mission.

    Senator Russ Feingold, who’s office is the prime author along with Resolve Uganda of the LRA Bill (S.1067 and H.R. 2478), has had to clarify that the bill wouldn’t necessarily mean another Ugandan-led mission. So does this mean the US would be leading the mission?

    This isn’t what AFRICOM was originally created for, or was it?

  2. Response to Senator Feingold’s article: ‘We Need a Strategy Not a Silver Bullet to Stop the LRA”

    Re: Bills S 1067 and HR 2478

    Senator Feingold,

    There are two combatant forces in the conflict in Northern Uganda, one being the LRA and the other being the Government of Uganda (GOU). Your article tends to place more emphasis on the LRA, while glossing over the evils of the dictatorship of the GOU. No comprehensive strategy will work unless the US government deals with the Uganda governance policies, total corruption, disregard of human rights, the undermining of all previous peace efforts, oppression of the opposition and militarization of society in Uganda and in particular Northern Uganda.

    There is little to show for the money that has been donated for the reconstruction of the north. Where has the money gone? Probably the way of many other funds donated to the GOU. Certainly in the past more lives were lost to preventable diseases because of the abominable conditions in the IDP camps where people were held captive by the GOU and left poorly protected from the LRA, than from the LRA itself! This was deliberate policy on the part of the GOU, for never did they ask for outside help in protecting the people! However Museveni and his elites became extremely wealthy from the war industry.

    One has to keep in mind that all previous military attempts to end the war failed miserably, including the most recent Operation Lightening Thunder 1. Instead, on each occasion thousands of innocent lives were lost, and hundreds of thousands more were forced into IDP camps, in Uganda, in Congo, in Sudan. Kony may not have signed the recent peace agreement; but neither did Museveni. The US Government needs to see human lives lost, and not just consider collateral damage as some abstract consequence of war. If Museveni was unable or unwilling to protect innocent people in his entire history of wars, what makes you think that he will now be able to protect them, because the US passes a new Bill that takes this into account?

    What might have more chance of succeeding in ending the instability in the region is to end the impunity with which President Museveni has been able to act because he knows that the US needs him and uses him for their geopolitical interests. He and his government must be held accountable. There must be an urgent and fast tracked, well executed plan to rebuild, reconstruct and facilitate the development of the north. End the marginalization! End the rhetoric that only deals with the LRA. Donor money must be monitored from start to finish!

    No longer can the US government afford to support a vicious dictator who is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people in the name of fighting the war on terrorism, or because of western “interests”.

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