October 14, 2011

"[A] muscular escalation of American military efforts to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army..."

"... which originated as a Ugandan rebel force in the 1980s and morphed into a fearsome cult-like group of fighters. It is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet known for ordering village massacres, recruiting prepubescent soldiers, keeping harems of child brides and mutilating opponents."
Mr. Obama wrote that he had decided to act because it was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”. He also wrote that the deployment was justified by a law passed by Congress in May 2010, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which favored “increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”
Do you object to this intervention?

By the way, what religion is involved here? You can't tell from the linked NYT article. It's not that easy to Google for an answer either. Here's an article from 5 years ago in Christianity Today:
Kony... uses passages from the Pentateuch to justify mutilation and murder. He promotes a demonic spirituality crafted from an eclectic mix of Christianity, Islam, and African witchcraft.

Any resemblance to these religions is superficial: While the army observes rituals such as praying the rosary and bowing toward Mecca, there is no prescribed theology in the conventional sense. Kony's beliefs are a haphazard mix from the Bible and the Qur'an, tailored around his wishful thinking, personal desires, and practical needs of the moment. Jesus is the Son of God. But instead of saving the world from sin through his sacrificial love on the Cross, he is a source of power employed for killing those who oppose Kony. The Holy Spirit is not the Divine Comforter, but one who directs Kony's tactical military decisions.

Despite dabbling in the Bible and the Qur'an, Kony's real spiritual obsession is witchcraft. He burns toy military vehicles and figurines to predict the course of battles from their burn patterns. He uses reptiles in magic rituals to sicken those who anger him or to detect traitors in his midst. He claims to receive military direction from spirits of dead men from different countries, including Americans. He teaches that an impending apocalypse will usher in "The Silent World," where only primitive weapons, such as machetes and clubs, will bring victory.

136 comments:

Big Mike said...

For a guy who's ostensibly the leader of a party that is bound and determined to cut the US military to the bone, he surely does want to exercise our military forces every place he can.

John Lynch said...

I'm scratching my head on this one.

I support this sort of intervention on the side of order over chaos, or at least bad over worse.

Africa certainly needs security.

Still, why not Congo or Sudan? Maybe it's just more doable to help Uganda.

Dunno.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Sounds like Obama and this Kony character come from the same schools of textual interpretation to me.

Robert said...

Holy mackerel. If invasion of Uganda is in the national interest surely the invasion of Iraq was. Where next the Canary Islands?

Ann Althouse said...

"Nearly 90 percent of LRA fighters are enslaved children, kidnapped from their families...

"Under threat of death, LRA child soldiers attack villages, shooting and cutting off people's lips, ears, hands, feet, or breasts, at times force-feeding the severed body parts to victims' families. Some cut open the bellies of pregnant women and tear their babies out. Men and women are gang-raped. As a warning to those who might report them to Ugandan authorities, they bore holes in the lips of victims and padlock them shut. Victims are burned alive or beaten to death with machetes and clubs. The murderous task is considered properly executed only when the victim is mutilated beyond recognition and his or her blood spatters the killer's clothing.

"At St. Joseph's Hospital in Kitgum, I listened as relatives of four adult LRA victims recounted recent assaults. Many surviving victims cannot speak for themselves, because their lips have been sliced off. With their mouths reduced to gaping holes, they gazed at me with what combat veterans call the thousand-yard stare....

"Since 1986, the LRA is estimated to have abducted as many as 50,000 children. Many more Ugandans have been maimed and traumatized. About 1.6 million have been driven from their homes. The death toll from the conflict is estimated at more than 30,000 children.

"During attacks, LRA fighters, themselves traumatized captives, abduct more children and embark on a trek through the African bush that mimics the Bataan Death March in barbarity. Adult commanders force children to carry supplies for up to a week, marching from dawn to dusk on bare feet, without food or water in the equatorial heat. Potable water is reserved for commanders. Children have been forced to drink urine or drink from muddy ditches to survive. Their feet become infected and swollen. Any child who cannot keep pace is killed. Any child caught in an attempted escape is killed. Children may be murdered for crying or failing to obey commands quickly enough. Moreover, it is the other children who must execute the transgressors, which is done by hacking them to pieces with machetes or burning them alive.

"Commanders frequently compel children to kill their own siblings, lest family bonds supersede those to the LRA. Leaders demand every abducted child kill another child within a week of capture. Afterward, they're told they'll never be accepted by society because of their criminal acts, so they must stay with the LRA to survive. They coerce the children into identifying with their captors by emotionally blackmailing them with their own guilt."

More at the link.

Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

The Drill SGT said...

This is the Samantha Power's doctrine of "‘Responsibility to Protect’

as opposed to the Doctrine of our first Black President, Colin Powell,

"Don't send nobody, nowhere, unless we really care, and then send enough boys to make sure we beat the crap out of them with few losses :) "

John Lynch said...

Ann-

Yeah, read about the Congo sometime. Over 3 million dead, more than any war since 1945, and we hear nothing about it. The LRA is kind of a spin-off of the larger Central African collapse.

Sometimes a little imperialism is preferable to mass murder.

Steve Koch said...

Yes, I object to it strenuously. WTF is wrong with Obama that he unilaterally does all these military interventions? He should discuss it with congress first and get them to vote to agree to the military action.

AJ Lynch said...

Can't wait to hear Diane Sawyer report the US military, like the OWS protestors, is now in over a 1,000 countries.

Sixty Grit said...

End(this)less war. He's not my president. Impeach now.

Oh, right, that only applies to republican presidents. As you were.

The Drill SGT said...

Ann said... Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

no jokes, but why is in our critical national interest to spend the lives of our SF troops killing a bunch of kids to whack the boss.

Don't be shy here. Americans are going to need to butcher those kids to achieve the Obama objective.

Long term that may result in fewer kids dying, short term, more will.

Why do we care again? but dont care about country x or y or z?

James said...

This decision appears to have Samantha Powers "humanitarian intervention" fingerprints all over it. While there are countless atrocities being committed, its no different from Sudan, The Congo, or other hotspots.

I mentioned this to a friend this afternoon and he replied "Well...Uganda was originally tabbed as the site for Jewish resettlement."

I immediately cut him off because I know what he's insinuating.

The Drill SGT said...

OT: I'm putting the Blue Star image to rest this week. For the uninformed :) The blue star banner was started in the early 40's to signify that the household had a member serving in the armed forces. At one point we were a 2 star household. My wife retired this month, thus we are retiring our last star.


PS: The Gold Star, represents a household that has lost a family member in combat, hence, Gold Star Mother....

sane_voter said...

I can see we are going to end up with a bunch of Ugandan refugees.

You can never have enough Ugandans, same as with Haitians.

Maguro said...

It's just a few advisers, what could go wrong?

- Pres Eisenhower, 1955

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

This is something that has been going on for years; it didn't just start yesterday. How hard would it have been for Obama to consult Congress on this matter?

He should be impeached over this. And I would expect every single Democratic in Congress to vote to toss him out.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Ann's point is spot-on. I'd say the article actually understates the horror of what these monsters are doing. I have many dear friends in Uganda, including a doctor who has to patch up victims of LRA atrocities on a regular basis.

Most people in America (and Europe) have no conception of the utter evil of these people. A lion may tear your child to pieces, but it's just a lion. These, these ... whatever is worse than monsters ... do it on purpose.

This is an appropriate (and usually effective) projection of US power on the side of good.

I have a godson is special operations, so it's more than academic. We're also working very closely with France all across the sub-Sahara, and have been for nearly a decade -- which is why George Bush would not throw his France-hating base any "red meat" in the 2004 election.

This isn't new, and in the case of the LRA it's long overdue.

Double-tap the tangos and, MoveOn-dot-org.

No Name said...

I'm convinced our President is batshit crazy now.

Browndog said...

Clearly this makes no sense-

NOTHING Obama does is what it appears to be.

It'll take a few days to figure out what the Usurper in Chief is really up to.

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason (the commenter) said...

Do I sound extreme calling for Obama to be impeached? Well, I've just been reading a lot of Occupy Wall Street material about how we need to "end our illegal wars".

Way to play to the home crowd, Mr. President.

The Drill SGT said...

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...
Ann's point is spot-on. I'd say the article actually understates the horror of what these monsters are doing. I have many dear friends in Uganda, including a doctor who has to patch up victims of LRA atrocities on a regular basis.


Bart, Jason has it right, you and Ann wrong.

This has been going on for 10 year. Why now and why not consult with Congress. or why not a hellfire from a predator?

Why 100 troops instead of 1000?

My point is, either leave him alone, or get him from a UAV or send enough troops to minimze OUR losses...

Big Mike said...

Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

Professor, the world is chock full of horrible people doing horrible things to people who should just be allowed to live their lives.

All I'm saying is that if you're going to sic the US military on them, then it is utterly insane to cut the US military budget at the same time.

I'm not joking about that at all.

And, like me, you are old enough to remember that the war in Viet Nam started with a handful of "advisers."

edutcher said...

We're sending a badly-needed SF company to a war several of those toy palace guard militaries in Europe might possibly be able to handle?

I appreciate Ann's point, but how is this in the interest of the US?

Or is this another incarnation of GodZero's idea of fairness?

John Lynch said...

Ann-

Yeah, read about the Congo sometime. Over 3 million dead, more than any war since 1945, and we hear nothing about it. The LRA is kind of a spin-off of the larger Central African collapse.

Sometimes a little imperialism is preferable to mass murder.


OK, fine, but double (better yet, triple) the size of the Army and Navy (we can cut the Departments of Education, Labor, Energy, HUD, and Transportation to cover it) and do it right.

Any place we figure "needs" our help becomes American soil once it's pacified. The people are converted to Christianity (the real stuff, none of Bobby Edgar's National Council of Churches). The American flag flies over it, anybody who calls any of our guys baby killers for partisan political reasons is tried for treason, and we get first dibs on any natural resources.

As Mr Kipling put it, put on The White Man's Burden.

WV "commi" (no kidding) The bulk of people who'll be tried for treason under the new rules.

Jason (the commenter) said...

"armed advisers"

Where the hell is Obama getting his euphemisms from? Did Biden pick this one out?

James said...

We don't even have to go back to Vietnam... The U.S. has been in Libya since March and we haven't found Gaddafi yet.

Scott said...

Eisenhower kept the United States OUT of Vietnam. Of course, this doesn't jibe with the leftist mythology about Republicans, but the facts don't lie. (Unlike you.)

In fact, John F. Kennedy, who is credited as the creator and chief proponent of "the domino theory", was the first president to put American soldiers on the ground in Vietnam, in 1961. He was no doubt inspired by the same humanitarian impulses that stir in the breast of Obama. It is destined to be yet another war started by a Democrat president, where blood of young men and women will flow until a Republican elected to stop it.

Paddy O said...

I agree with Bart and, I think, Ann here.

Sometimes evil needs to be told no. Because one child who is not kidnapped by this evil man and his manufactured demons, is a child who can grow up to help his country become something other than a horror show.

edutcher said...

Jason (the commenter) said...

"armed advisers"

Where the hell is Obama getting his euphemisms from? Did Biden pick this one out?


As opposed to unarmed advisors.

We sent them to 'Nam, as well. They had a rougher time of it.

John Lynch said...

edutcher-

I would. Our military is going to be cut far too much as a result of all the borrowing and spending we've been engaged in over the last 2 years.

But, even without increasing spending much we could still do a lot of good.

It's often far more cost effective to send a few dozen soldiers than it would be to send a few thousand. A few highly qualified men go a long way when used as trainers, and it keeps the emphasis on the local forces. People ultimately have to defend themselves.

Limited interventions are actually a good idea, as long as we are willing to let them fail when the price gets too high. The wars in Libya and Kosovo cost us no lives but succeeded in their objectives. Wars are often driven by pride rather than by rational goals. Clinton's decision to leave Somalia in 1993 (after the mission changed to include impossible goals) was the right one in that context, if not in the larger context of encouraging Islamic radicals.

Not every war is WW2 (almost none are, actually) and an all-or-nothing approach to making war makes no sense. Large, total, wars are the results of horrible mistakes.

We need to get past Vietnam (and Iraq). There's no Cold War, no one is going to be funneling huge amounts of aid to the LRA, and we will be helping the government, not overthrowing it.

Americans aren't rational about using force. It's either too much or too little. Limited campaigns with limited goals when the circumstances are favorable are the way to succeed.

Obama's intervention in Libya succeeded if the goal was to remove Gaddaffi. Other goals, like ensuring a democratic successor state, are probably not achievable at a cost we're willing to pay. So we shouldn't pay it.

Peano said...

Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

Quote (ad nauseum) if you like, but understand what you are quoting about, Professor.

Shit happens all over the world. Bad people doing deplorable things to innocent people.

But before we send guys from Peoria to die for the cause, we need more than a long string of "shit happens" quotes. We need a case.

You didn't present a case, Professor. You just copied and pasted a long string of shit from your mother ship, the New York Times.

Jason (the commenter) said...

edutcher: We sent them to 'Nam, as well. They had a rougher time of it.

Yes, that euphemism immediately makes you think of Vietnam (which is what makes it so stupid).

edutcher said...

John Lynch said...

edutcher-

I would. Our military is going to be cut far too much as a result of all the borrowing and spending we've been engaged in over the last 2 years.

But, even without increasing spending much we could still do a lot of good.


There was a line from an old spy novel, written about the time 'Nam shifted into high gear that always seemed a good rule of thumb.

"(the boss) always said the sword of retribution was not our weapon because, once you get in the habit of killing somebody just because he's a louse, it's so hard to know where to stop".

Clinton's decision to leave Somalia in 1993 (after the mission changed to include impossible goals) was the right one in that context, if not in the larger context of encouraging Islamic radicals.

No, it was a lousy idea, just as his escalation was. Consult the memoirs of one O. bin Laden.

Obama's intervention in Libya succeeded if the goal was to remove Gaddaffi.

It has? Last I heard he's still holding out.

Eric said...

Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

Oh, there's no argument this guy is one Right Royal Bastard. But... how is this any of our business? We don't have the resources to squash every bastard in the world, and even if we did there are always new ones to take their places. At any given time there are a dozen guys just like this running around in Africa.

It seems to be a pattern with this Obama. First there was the lawyerly weaseling on the War Powers Act in Libya, and now he's committing troops where the US has no interests at all, economic or security. If this is the standard for the use of military force then there is no standard, and Congress's war powers have dwindled away to literally nothing.

richard mcenroe said...

Hey, if Obama is going to turn this country into a banana republic, we're going to need a secure source of Bananas. How much have Dole and United Fruit contributed to his campaign, anyway?

Mitochondri-Allie said...

Jason the commenter, the thing is OWS isn't Obama's home crowd.

I started out saying hell no to this deployment of US troops, but after reading your linked articles, I don't know. It worries me that are are so few troops, don't want another Blackhawk Down situation.

richard mcenroe said...

John Lynch, according to the mission statement, they will be expanding operations into the Congo and other neighboring countries "as invited".

ricpic said...

Citizen: Troops on the border with Mexico?

State Operative: Out of the question you horrid bigot!

Citizen: Troops to Africa to "save humanity?"

State Operative: You dare question it bigot?!

richard said...

Joke if you like, but understand what you are joking about.

Agreed it's a horror. Do you honestly think 100 troops is going to do any good? Do you think he owes Congress an explanation instead of a letter? Did anyone see this coming? Did he ever mention the crisis in any speech or press conference? Where is the U.N.? Where is anybody else?/

wildswan said...

Didn't George Bush say: no matter who becomes President he will change when he sits here and reads what I read every morning?

Maybe Obama has changed and because of what he now knows he sincerely wants to act in these other countries. And as Commander in Chief he can act without Congress. So he does some good in Pakistan and Yemen and against the LRA etc. without bothering about Congress. But here's what bothers me. Why doesn't Obama try to win Congress over? Compare him with George Washington who always tried to win Congress over even when it totally disregarded him and the suffering Army as at Valley Forge. Compare him with Martin Luther King who used non violence to win Congress over to pass civil rights laws.

Jason (the commenter) said...

The Drill SGT: Bart, Jason has it right, you and Ann wrong.

Althouse hasn't come out in favor of what Obama did.

If you read her original post, you'll notice she's comparing Obama's actions to those of Kony. They both are purposefully misinterpreting texts to justify their actions.

Perhaps she's trying to say Obama is doing it in a "good" way. Perhaps not.

And perhaps we're misinterpreting HER words for our own purposes.

Do the ends justify the means?

I have the impression Obama views the law as a cover for what's convienient. Well, impeaching him over this sure would be convienient.

The Founding Fathers left us with checks for everything!

edutcher said...

Jason (the commenter) said...

edutcher: We sent them to 'Nam, as well. They had a rougher time of it.

Yes, that euphemism immediately makes you think of Vietnam (which is what makes it so stupid).


Not sure what your objection is. My use of an oft-used contraction for the theater or the use of non-military advisors.

The unarmed guys were USAID and Peace Corps, if memory serves. Tom Dooley being the best known, although he was there in the early 60s.

Big Mike said...

@John Lynch, there is no such thing as "too much force."

When the enemy thinks they can beat what's in front of them, they'll fight and fight hard. Sending enough force so that the enemy takes one look and says "aw shit" (or some comparable phrase in Urdu, Farsi, Arabic, Swahili, or whatever), drops their weapons, and throws up their hands is the best way to fight a war.

Browndog said...

I did some snooping around, and it turns out this is nothing more than:

#occupyuganda

One of the thousand countries Diane Sawyer talked about.

Maguro said...

Eisenhower kept the United States OUT of Vietnam. Of course, this doesn't jibe with the leftist mythology about Republicans, but the facts don't lie. (Unlike you.)

Sorry, but you're wrong, Eisenhower sent the first military advisers to SVN in 1955. Yes, Kennedy and then Johnson escalated the conflict in ways that Eisenhower never could have anticipated, but that is the point of the comment. Big, messy interventions can start out small and innocuous.

Browndog said...

Obama's got a new toy:special ops

Obama just got a new DVD: Season 7 of "24".

just sayin...

Sorin said...

Senor Obama is not fighting the evil doers in Africa he is doing something else.

Power is a heady thing. Obama has felt the rush of tremendous power and the exercise thereof.

I wonder if he has the strength to use thermonuclear weapons if necessary.

The Crack Emcee said...

He promotes a demonic spirituality crafted from an eclectic mix of Christianity, Islam, and African witchcraft.

Sounds like my kind of guy. Pity.

exhelodriver said...

I think that a limited number of surgical air strikes against his forces would be preferable, and in the long run less costly in lives for both the Africans and us. But that would result in some collateral damage, and our society is too stupid to understand the '100 civilian deaths now is better than 10,000 over the next 5 years'

MnMark said...

If Obama is going to send US troops to risk their lives and to spend money we really don't have to spend anymore on missions of mercy like this, at least he should have the honesty not to lie to our faces and say it is "in the national security interests of the United States." BULL. SHIT. There is ZERO national security interest at stake.

I would like to hear Obama seriously try to defend this as a matter of *national security* for the United States. Whether this guy goes on doing his rottenness in Africa affects us not in any meaningful way.

And there are ALWAYS rotten characters in Africa. I suspect there always will be. We have got to get over this thing where we try to turn the rest of the world into some kind of suburban American white community. It can't be done.

Seeing Red said...

"Nearly 90 percent of LRA fighters are enslaved children, kidnapped from their families...



I can see world headlines now

White Americans killing black kids.

Methadras said...

Am I supposed to understand this as being some obscure humanitarian political move to save Uganda to secure the US Ugandan bloc vote?

Methadras said...

The Crack Emcee said...

He promotes a demonic spirituality crafted from an eclectic mix of Christianity, Islam, and African witchcraft.

Sounds like my kind of guy. Pity.


That's just some weird ass voodoo shit.

Calypso Facto said...

I'm a vehement opponent of American intervention in most cases, including Libya most recently, but I think it's entirely appropriate for the US to send 100 advisors to help the regional military forces hunt down a nomadic, child-kidnapping, village-massacring, killer.

Note that in this case the US is NOT trying to influence the outcome of local politics by propping up or overthrowing a government. We're just helping a 4-nation coalition hunt down a mass murderer in their midst, which will hopefully allow us to cut the $10 million per year we've been spending on the effort.

madAsHell said...

It works until the first coffin arrives in Dover.

Will Obama make it a photo op??

Probably, he wants to be seen as.....I dunno, he just wants to be seen.

Of course, Obama was the rational choice.

YoungHegelian said...

Do you ever wonder why it is that the African countries involved in the struggle with the LRA just can't seem to kill off the rather small group that is the LRA?

It's not like the LRA has any sort of real local support.

As evil as the LRA is, and I think right now they set a gold standard for evil, the entrenched incompetence of the African states involved will probably render moot what little aid 100 US service men can provide.

David said...

Yes I support it, if we use enough power to be effective. No one else seems willing to stop these people.

To be effective the fighting and killing will have to be done by American troops. We will need more than 100 and they will need logistical and air support.

If Obama is willing to do this, I certainly support him.

What he is proposing now won't do the trick.

Michael said...

Good on Obama. This LRA bunch is not constrained by borders and maurauds far afield. I expect this special operation can work. It will be very ugly.

Roger J. said...

Count me in with young Hegelian--even if we kill this murderous bastard, there will be another murderous bastard to take his place.

100 advisors (and I suspect this means special ops troops) may be successful, but the infection that is Africa will continue to supperate.

And having established the precedent to intervene for humanitarian purposes, how do we sort out which intervention is necessary? Syria? North Korea, Beylorus? Gaza? Zimbabwe? There are more bad guys out there than we have troops for.

Libya apparently was the precedent and while I dont normally subscribe to slippery slope arguments, it seems it might be appropriate now.

It will be interesting to see how this intervention plays out. We can probably kill this guy Kony but there will be some other murderous bastard to take his place.

Roger J. said...

And David posted while I was slaving away at the key board--trust me folks--its a hundred special ops guys on the ground who will be supported by at least 10 times the amount of troops needed for combat support.

I suspect there will be several thousand US military involved in the operation.

exhelodriver said...

Most of Africa is hopeless - they rushed into independence from colonialism too quickly, and this is the result. Providing aid just strengthens those who are in charge, because the aid funnels through them.

Roger J. said...

And who comes up the expression "a muscular escalation?"

100 armed advisors (and who precisely are they advising) is a fart in a whirlwind. A brigade might be a muscular intervention.

Keystone said...

I think the expression is pouring sand done a rat hole.

edutcher said...

Roger J. said...

And who comes up the expression "a muscular escalation?"

100 armed advisors (and who precisely are they advising) is a fart in a whirlwind. A brigade might be a muscular intervention.


You have more experience than I, but wouldn't an SF company, which is what is apparently being sent (I've only found one oblique reference, so it could be a CA or PsyOp detachment for all I know) be a fairly significant, and powerful, investment?

Michael said...

Muscular would be Napier at Magdala. This is going to be very ugly. U S special ops against children, vicious ones. MadMax.

Roger J. said...

edutcher--If it is indeed a special ops group (and I suspect it is but only my personal speculation), then they will have one mission: to hunt down this Kony asshole and whack him

I guess we can cavil on what constituties muscular, but one hundred spec ops guys in africa isnt very muscular to me.

What the administration isnt talking about the is the magnitude of the support forces backing up the guys on the ground. Much more than a hundred I wager.

John said...

This is nothing new. We have had troops in Africa for years now. Often special forces and usually in small numbers.

We even have an "African Command"

The United States Africa Command (USAFRICOM or
AFRICOM) is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands
of the United States Armed Forces, headquartered
at Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany. It is
responsible for U.S. military operations and
military relations with 53 African nations – an
area of responsibility covering all of Africa except Egypt.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa_Command


We also have troops on the ground, in small numbers, in all sorts of hot spots around the world. Read Robert Kaplan's "Imperial Grunts" and "Hog Pilots and Blue Water Grunts"

For a good if grim novel about Uganda under Idi Amin, Donald Westlake's "Kawaha" can't be beat. It is about the theft of a train carrying the entire Ugandan coffee harvest from under Amin's nose.

If 100 guys can help in this horrible situation that is Uganda, I am OK with it. Think of it as training for our guys. They get valuable experience out of something like this. At the same time our guys are benefitting, we are maybe doing some good.

John Henry

John said...

Jason asks about consulting Congress.

I suspect there is no need. I suspect that this kind of thing is within the purview of the Africa Command.

Once the Command was authorized, assuming that this kind of thing is within its mission, no further approval is needed.

As I understand these things.

John Henry

Beldar said...

I believe in a broad definition of what's within American strategic interests. I think Libya counted, for example, because we can't have renegade despots with billions in petrodollars breaking their parole and defying international conventions, especially where they have a history of projecting successful anti-U.S. terrorism around the world and of developing WMDs.

But nothing in Uganda — a landlocked country in sub-Saharan Africa — implicates American strategic interests in the slightest. This is America as the World's Policeman, nothing less. The House ought to vote de-fund the entire enterprise immediately. (My extended take is at my own blog.)

Roger J. said...

John gives a good summary of the unified command structure. Here's my take on this operation. My approach were I still on the Joint Staff, would be to use small unit operations with highly trained hunter killer units to go after key people on the bad side. We have done this quite successfully with drones, and with the killing of OBL. The mid east, however, is considerably different that sub saharan Africa. Drones are probably less useful and require some substantial infrastructure.

Security operations in disputed areas are far more problematic and require many more troops on the ground.

I think the approach in africa, as I read between the lines, is to use highly trained special ops people for targeted killings. The downside, of course, is that we run out of special ops guys in a hurry. They are a valuable asset.

The only thing that strikes me about this operation (and I do think this Kony asshole needs killing) is why we would announce it? These things, IMO, are best left as black operations. Get the job done and leave--the bad guys will know.

Roger J. said...

Beldar--I am of two minds on this. I agree absolutely that we have no one strategic interest in sub-saharan africa. But sometimes the evil is so stark we MAY be compelled to take a stand.

In a perfect world the administration should have consulted with congress sub rosa and with appropriate concurrence proceeded. I doubt that happened because Obama is a major asshole and I see Ms Powers fingerprints all over this.

All I can say is if Kony is whacked the world will be a better place even if the legalities were not observed. I know that is a dangerous position to take and can lead to more abusive situations. its the best I can come up with now.

David said...

Michael said...
"Muscular would be Napier at Magdala."

I thought of Magdala also when I read this, Michael.

The LRA is worse than Theodorus by an order of magnitude. The Brits went in because of the hostage insult rather than for humanitarian reasons. But the difference in military effectiveness between Napier's army and Theodorus and US Special Forces and LRA is probably similar.

The actual fighting at Magdala was done by a pretty small force, the tip of a big spear of logistics that made it all possible.

Are we willing to do that?

Robert said...

It is no joke when a single mother's son is sent into harms way and the national interest is not at stake. The President and Althouse don't have the courtesy to pretend that there is the slightest threat to American interests from these criminals. The simple fact that they are evil, one among many things as equally evil, is thought to justify the introduction of combat forces into a world we have no national interest in and have never gone before. It won't be a joke when the casualties come back, no siree.

Freeman Hunt said...

No way do I object to that intervention.

Were I a soldier, I'd be honored to fight against such deep evil.

Fred4Pres said...

Hasa Diga Eebowai!

Rick said...

This sounds like our kind of issue. Let's get right in there and straighten everything out.

hombre said...

My wife and son have both done mission trips to Uganda with their primary destinations Kampala and Kitgum. We currently support missionaries and several children in Kitgum and have supported Far Reaching Ministries which has protected children from the LRA.

The great irony in all this is that the LRA backed off during the Bush administration because of their fear that Bush would send troops into Uganda.

We believe the LRA is the epitome of evil. Nevertheless, we are concerned that this administration appears committed to the assassination of individual miscreants while it ignores greater evil, for example the genocide threatened against South Sudan.

Fred4Pres said...

I am not thrilled in getting involved in another war, but I do not want to see another Rwanda. Thugs like this are easily thwarted.

Valentine Smith said...

Throw away the book on this one. Forget the use of a 100 "armed advisors" to assist government forces. That's using them as force multipliers training soldiers that will take months and months to questionable effect. All politics, all the time.

Go outside to professional mercenaries. There are plenty out there with experience in Africa (many, no doubt in this particulat AO). One battalion (about 250 men) could be put together in no time. Outfit them as a light infantry brigade and send them in. Very cost effective and over the long term human-life effective as well.

There actually has been a group of men in just this sort of endeavor who were put out of business (legally) because their successes scared the living shit out of all the powers that be in Africa.

You want to help human beings—cast the die—get in do the killing that needs to be done. Then get the hell out before the NGOs and the social workers show up.

Robert Cook said...

Given how gruesome the violence is, I can see a rationale for some kind of peace-keeping intervention, but not a unilateral insertion of American military forces. This is the kind of thing the United Nations is supposed to be for.

Another reason to deplore the Nobel Peace Laureate! Bah!

Maguro said...

There actually has been a group of men in just this sort of endeavor who were put out of business (legally) because their successes scared the living shit out of all the powers that be in Africa.

I believe you're thinking of Executive Outcomes. They took care of a similar situation in Sierra Leone in the mid 90s, defeating a marauding child army and bringing peace to the country. Then the powers that be brought in Cook's beloved UN peacekeepers, who proceeded to let the place go to shit again.

David said...

"It is no joke when a single mother's son is sent into harms way and the national interest is not at stake."

The geopolitical interests of America are not the highest interests in every situation.

Valentine Smith said...

Thanks Maguro.

They were obviously the "wrong sort of chaps."

Fred Drinkwater said...

I don't get it. If the goal is to whack Kony, then why announce anything? If secrecy and OpSec is not at issue, then why not consult with Congress up front?

WV: binge. There's some bad karma, right there.

Steven said...

On the one hand, I like the idea of whacking this evil bastard, and all the others like him.

On the other, I'm pretty sure we can't actually manage to whack all the others like him, at least with a massive re-prioritizing of our national budget, so I'd like a better justification than "he's an evil bastard".

Fred4Pres said...

Why not just blow the leader away with a Predator Drone Strike?

I would not complain?

William said...

It's worth a shot. However, my intuition is that evil this ghastly is too deeply rooted and pervasive to be defeated by a small number of special op forces. Some societies have so many pathogens that an outsider is more likely to spread the infection than lance the boil when he intervenes. See Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and--dollars to donuts--Libya.

Valentine Smith said...

"Why not just blow the leader away with a Predator Drone Strike?"

Because it's necessary to cut off the arms and legs too.

cathy said...

There was a somewhat similar strange militant group in a country in West Africa and a paramilitary group was quite effective against them until some international law type group was able to stop the paramilitary so that the killing could continue. The point is, it was a very small group of hired killers and it worked. I would like to see Kony killed.

Lucius said...

Killing Kony cannot, in and of itself, be objectionable; but do we have good reason to think this cycle of depravity would be concluded by his elimination?

Not to be grand guignol, but in the short-term at least, this army of child soldiers is going to caper around like the maddened zombies in "28 Days Later". And our Special Ops will have the terrible privilege of defending themselves by shooting them.

Revenant said...

Why are we fighting these bozos? Did they kill Americans? If not, why can't someone else handle this one?

Kirk Parker said...

Drill Sgt, Fred4, and others,

"why not a hellfire from a predator?"

Do you have any idea how tractless that area is? It's not like there's some big gleaming LRA Headquarters building that shows up in sattelite photos. Every non-trivial article I read about UAV operations makes mention of how vital HUMINT is in determining targeting.

As someone who actually lived in the area in question, I'm certainly happy they're getting help.

Kirk Parker said...

John Lynch,

"Americans aren't rational about using force. It's either too much or too little. Limited campaigns with limited goals when the circumstances are favorable are the way to succeed."

Exactly, we just don't have the imperial instinct.



And to everyone who's fretting about "escalation": relax, there's nowhere to escalate. Kony and his band of crazies are a small group, not a part of any government, and not backed by anyone. There's nowhere up for this deployment to go.

Iapetus said...

If 100 Special Ops forces are on their way there now, how many clandestine CIA operatives are already in-country? Obama seems to have a penchant for using the CIA to do the real dirty jobs, which may allow him to avoid having to answer to any Congressional armed services committee with oversight. You never know when some pesky Congress critter might object to a unilateral "kinetic military action" or leak a secret to the press that could prove embarrassing.

Anthony said...

They told me if I voted for McCain something like this would happen. I wish I had listened to them

Pastafarian said...

I support this action. However:

What ever happened to the War Powers Act?

I question the timing, to quote a thousand liberals during the last two republican administrations. This slaughter has been going on for years. Why haven't they acted before this? Do Fast and Furious, Solyndra, slipping poll numbers, and a looming electIon have something to do with it?

Why announce this? We have very small deployments like this all over the world, and we don't announce their arrival. That makes Obama's motives even more suspect. And it might compromise the mission.

I really am loathe to suggest that the POTUS might be this much of an amoral power-mad asshole, but the last three years have left me disillusioned.

Erik said...

Kony is a nasty son-of-a-bitch, and one of my former colleagues, Faith McDonnell, who has worked with Christians in the area has been giving me an earful about him for years. She actually wrote a book about it, called Girl Soldier, with a Ugandan woman, Grace Akallo, who was kidknapped and forced into Kony's army as a child soldier.

In any case, Kony and the LRA probably need to be taken care of by someone. I'm not sure the US has built up the kind of local ties necessary to make an effective go of it. And we certainly haven't had anything like a public debate over the merits of doing so. I'm open to an argument over it, but we haven't had that yet. Like Libya, Obama seems to think he can sidestep this. Agree or not over Iraq and Afghanistan, there were serious, open public considerations of both before boots hit the ground.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

There's much more than a mere 'humanitarian' angle here. Uganda anchors South Sudan's southern flank, and the LRA have some history of working with those who caused so much grief to the southern Sudanese for a couple of decades.

Uganda is not an insignificant country -- population roughly equal to that of Canada -- and as a result of George Bush's efforts and attention have become a strong friend of the US in a somewhat nasty neighborhood.

What I suspect our operators will be doing is to embed with Ugandan units. Unlike many African militaries, Uganda does not conscript and requires a secondary education of its enlistees.

Compare to Afghanistan where something like 70% of the ANA cannot read a manual in any language.

Most of our guys will probably be teaching small unit tactics to more senior NCOs and commissioned officers up to about O-3. They'll accompany them on missions and give practical guidance as they go.

What they'll have some trouble fixing is the logistics, and I would be unsurprised if some of the first reports back from the US contingent did not ask for assistance with logistics training and so on.

Strategically I suspect the effort is intended to ensure the existence of a competent, friendly military well in control of the territory between the messes in the Congo and eastern Africa.

We do NOT want those groups to link up, which is a big part of the role Kony sees for himself.

AllenS said...

The problem is that large parts of Africa are a shit hole. Have always been a shit hole, and will always be a shit hole. Let's remember, a long time ago during the slave trade, ships showed up on the coast line of west Africa, and bought slaves from Africans who had captured these people. This Kony character is just another in a long, long line of strong arm Africans.

As others have pointed out, there are a lot of other areas of Africa where we could be sending troops if this is the criteria.

Also, when Roger J. said...
its a hundred special ops guys on the ground who will be supported by at least 10 times the amount of troops needed for combat support.

I suspect there will be several thousand US military involved in the operation
is exactly what I was going to say. This combat area is a long ways away from the USofA.

How we doin' in Libya? Yemen?

Don Singleton said...

LRA certainly gives Christianity, Islam, and African witchcraft a bad name, but they don't constitute a threat to the US. The Left objected to our use of the military in Afganistan (from which an attack on the US was launched) and Iraq (where a madman was attacking neighboring countries as well as killing his own people, and supporting terrorism. How can they support the executive branch deciding to use military support against the LRA.

Tank said...

AllenS said...

The problem is that large parts of Africa are a shit hole. Have always been a shit hole, and will always be a shit hole. Let's remember, a long time ago during the slave trade, ships showed up on the coast line of west Africa, and bought slaves from Africans who had captured these people. This Kony character is just another in a long, long line of strong arm Africans.


Allen

People will call you a racist pig, but the problem is: every word you say is true.

Meanwhile, we have Zero national interest in intervening here. At home, we're tetering on another great depression (actually, probably started already), spending 40% more annually than we take in, have a national debt that can never be paid back, have entitlement obligations, along with gov't pensions and insurance, that can't politically be changed, but can't actually be paid, vast corruption in Wash DC ... etc.

What the hell. Let's send 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 troops to some Godforsaken country half a planet away, let them die and be maimed there for a decade or two, make believe we are creating a "democracy,", piss away another trillion or two we have to borrow from China, and create a whole new continent full of black people who hate our guts for killing their citizens. Sure. Great idea. And don't bother voting on it either. Just chuck the Constitution in the garbage.

Will this qualify Zero for another Nobel prize?

Robert Cook said...

"What ever happened to the War Powers Act?"

Hahahaha...puh-leeze! It's a dead letter, along with the Bill of Rights and, effectively, the Constitution. The President now has effective power to send our military anywhere to inflict any violence on anyone, without Congress having any say in the matter, and international law and sovereignty of other nations be damned.

Tank said...

Robert Cook is right.

Ha.

Is it too early for Bourbon?

Must be five o'clock somewhere.

AllenS said...

Correct you are, Mr. Cook. Unfortunately, you won't hear diddly squat from other Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, MSM, or OWS types of useful idiots.

I think that our own Blogress is all for this military intervention. Hopefully, obama will be sending a lot of homo military men and women there. That's what they want, right?

margit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

@RCook et al.: I'm quite confident the Ugandans requested assistance, so your point about "sovereignty" is non-germane.

In a broader sense, doesn't anybody here understand what China is attempting to do in Africa, often in collaboration with militant islamists?

The imperialist meddling in Africa, like so much else these days, says "Made in China." Most Africans don't like it, long for a different future, and recognise implicitly that any US "imperialism" is far lighter and far more beneficial than that of England, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal ... or China.

Paul said...

Keep it up and while we have our fingers in 10 different places some country like CHINA will start a war with us and we simply will not be able to fight them all.

We are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, South Korea (you guys do remember that nutjob, Kim, is still in charge of NK, right?) We have Zetas in Mexico, Chavez in Venezuela, Egypt about to have ANOTHER revolution thanks to guns coming in from.... Libya (see above.)

And so our president decides to go and get involved in another country? Oh, yea, politics 101.. if the internal situation is grim, distract the people with an external situation.

And that is what he is doing. Distraction from 9.1 percent unemployment, debt, default, Gunwalker, SOLYNDRA, etc...

And he prays (well IF he prays) it works.

Browndog said...

Odd, isn't it?

Suddenly, without warning, everyone seems to agree Obama knows what he's doing-

And, they know they know what Obama is doing--

Effortlessly, he accomplishes in short order what the armies of 4 African nations couldn't do in decades.

Obama: Na'yer a place an evildoer can escape his wrath.

AllenS said...

Browndog said...
Odd, isn't it?

Suddenly, without warning, everyone seems to agree Obama knows what he's doing-


I can't tell, is this sarcasim?

DCS said...

Interesting how the announcement appeared on Friday, just like the announcement that the CLASS Act had been killed. Meanwhile the MSM were still tingling about the morons "occupying" the country. CBS even had a map with "occupied" states painted in blue.

F said...

I served in the American Foreign Service in two of the countries that are to be included in the theater of operations for this latest adventure, and I can vouch for the fact that the USG had very little interest in that region of the world then. I should think it is of even less interest now that our military is stretched so thin. For Obama to engage us in central Africa because of "vital American interests" is a non-starter. Yes, the LRA is a brutal organization. If stopping brutal organizations is in the US national interest we're going to have to expand, not contract, our military.

Browndog said...

@AllenS

No.

Clyde said...

Feed this Kony character a drone sandwich. Cut off the head, the snake dies. If not, keep cutting off the new heads until it does.

Eric said...

Suddenly, without warning, everyone seems to agree Obama knows what he's doing-

Everyone? Meaning you and the voices in your head?

Roger J. said...

I know Mr Cook draws a lot of flak, but I have the utmost appreciation for his ability to remain true to his principles (even though I may disagree with some).

The charge that Bush 2 was shredding the consititution is small potatoes to what Mr Obama is doing to the consitution and law.

bill sherman said...

the mineral worth of the Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated at over 24 trillion. do we grab it and pay off the natl. debt, or just further line the pockets of the mega-rich. is that really why we are there under the banner of humanitarian acts? i mean, Europe had its chance to rape African wealth, now is it our turn? sure, the LRA is, from all i've read, agressively evil; on the other hand, there was an article in The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk) noting how the LRA was convinced to support the preservation of the white rhino, an endangered species, few left, and refuses to kill or eat rhino or use and export the horn for medicinal purposes as so many African countries allow. then of course there are the indigenous people of the forest and congo river, hunted and casually killed by ALL sides in the protracted wars - hunted as game animals(!), thought of as not even human, killed and eaten(!), active and continuing acts of genocide, and well-documented, but the UN refuses to do anything since the pygmies have no status as a nation being forest dwelling nomadic people who, like gypsies, when they try to settle near a Congolese town for the sake of their children and education, are driven away or killed, and no African country, and certainy not the u.s., will do anything at all to protect them.... (well, we have to trust Obama on Africa, don't we, i mean, he's from there..er..i mean his father is. and he does seem to like short round women, appointing two the Court, one to the UN.)

Browndog said...

Eric said...

Going lawyerly?

Did I fail to stipulate?

Quantify?

Qualify?

Try this-

"It seems to me, that the preponderance of commenters on Althouse Blog, thus far, believe, and take at face value the validity and honesty of the subject matter at hand, though no track record can be offered to substantiate such trust"

Better?

sorepaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

Clyde,

"Feed this Kony character a drone sandwich..."

See my previous comment above, which I'm fairly certain "F" will back me up on. You can't just tell the Hellfire "go find Kony", you have to give it (or the parent UAV) his ICBM coordinates, to at least get close enough for visual identification. So we need people on the ground, and I'm fairly willing to be the Ugandans/South Sudanese/Congolese, valiant troops though they might be, don't have what it takes to get us that information today.

David R. Graham said...

http://www.africom.mil/

David R. Graham said...

http://www.africom.mil/GenCarterHam.asp

Joe said...

We aren't the world's policemen. Fuck this and most military interventions. I'm all for free trade and protecting our interests, but sending our soldiers to their deaths over these foreign ventures is what's vile.

Once you start trotting out the excuse that we should intervene wherever there is evil afoot, there is no end to it.

Joe said...

One more thing: to be effective, the US will have to set up death squads. I've a "vague" memory of democrats, liberals and progressives throwing fits about death squads.

Kirk Parker said...

Joe,

"Death squads"? What on earth are you talking about?

Try this instead: "Most of our guys will probably be teaching small unit tactics..."

Peano said...

Freeman Hunt said... No way do I object to that intervention. Were I a soldier, I'd be honored to fight against such deep evil.

How does your personal willingness to enter that fight bear on U.S. policy? Should we make "deep evil" a sufficient ground to deploy troops?

If so, what of the deep evils in, Zimbabwe, in Syria, in Libya, in North Korea, in China, in Cuba, etc., etc., etc.? Following your sentiments, which deep evil could we NOT send American soldiers to fight against?

One of our greatest dangers right now is that The One is acting on the very blonde logic that you and Althorse propound.

David R. Graham said...

What's evil about this is announcing it. The point of having an SOF capability is to be able to go in somewhere without announcing the fact, without painting "Shoot Me" signs on the troops. Compare the Libyan deployment: not only were US SOF units in there from the start (you don't drop bombs without targeting assets on the ground) but care was taken to deny their presence, at least at first.

Some want to send US troops to stop evil anywhere in the world. They never mention stopping President Millstone Loose Lips. Now there's a cat who hates the military on principle and has been using them up gaily to both exhaust/deplete/embarrass them and to help his friends, because he can. Yes he can.

The opening scene after the credits of Casino Royale (the recent movie of that title) depicts an LRA camp in Uganda, replete with boy fighters/catamites.

Isn't the average age of the African Sub-Saharan population around 16 years? Using slaves or "conscripts" as catamites and fighters is traditional Mohammedan practice. In Turkey once, first born sons of non-Mohammedans were confiscated for that purpose. Arab societies today tend to run on labor by non-Arabs and their militaries tend to weakness for the same reason: allergy to work.

The US definitely has strategic interests in all of Africa (thus the existence of AFRICOM) especially, as mentioned by a commentator, in re Chinese penetration of the continent. Pursuing US interests is a prerogative of the US being a nation state.

The evil here is not going in (a reality for decades), it's announcing the fact of an SOF deployment. Might as well give their order of battle as well. There is evil in the White House.

David R. Graham said...

A question rose regarding the religion of the LRA. Try Voodoo.

Roger J. said...

somehow I dont think a 100 armed soldiers will be much involved in teaching anyone anything. Teaching has to be done at the squad and platoon level.

Are these death squads, whatever that means? I certainly hope so. Hunt the bastard down and kill him. 100 special ops guys can do that I think. Good luck to them

However, the Obama precedent is really a bad policy move as it gives carte blanche for any president to use the military for any purpose without some sort of oversight. No good.

Joe said...

Kirk, these "trainers" aren't going to do shit. If they want to be effective, they will have to start conducting extra-legal operations or teaching those being trained how to do it. The end result is always the same for the simple reason that to fight an irregular army, you have to become irregular. With a disciplined force, such as the special forces of most first world countries, this can be highly effective. In third world shit holes, these irregular armies have a way of getting out of control. They become death squads, killing people rather indiscriminately and prolifically. Often, they end up as bad as or worse than the enemy.

Kirk Parker said...

Joe,

And your basis for your claim is?

Freeman Hunt said...

Should we make "deep evil" a sufficient ground to deploy troops?

Yes.

If so, what of the deep evils in, Zimbabwe, in Syria, in Libya, in North Korea, in China, in Cuba, etc., etc., etc.?

Besides being honorable beings, we are rational ones. We are not capable of helping everywhere. It does no good for us to fight evil and destroy ourselves so that evil can be fought no more.

This LRA situation appears to be particularly manageable. By comparison, we are an overwhelming force. Intervention wins in the cost benefit analysis.

Joe said...

Kirk,

History.

Joe said...

This LRA situation appears to be particularly manageable.

How? Especially with 100 "advisors."

The Africans who know the terrain and the people have failed to manage this situation, how is the USA going to do so?

By comparison, we are an overwhelming force. Intervention wins in the cost benefit analysis.

Since when is 100 an overwhelming force.

Please look at history, people. The history of intervention in these types of situations is not good.

Kirk Parker said...

Joe,

Wow, you've convinced me.

Kirk Parker said...

Joe,

"... these types of situations... "

Well, there's your problem right there. What exactly are you comparing the LRA to?

Kirk Parker said...

Joe,

In particular consider this paragraph from the NY Times story, along with the fairly unique circumstances of the LRA and the area it operates in:

"American efforts to combat the group also took place during the administration of President George W. Bush, which authorized the Pentagon to send a team of 17 counterterrorism advisers to train Ugandan troops and provided millions of dollars worth of aid, including fuel trucks, satellite phones and night-vision goggles, to the Ugandan Army. Those efforts scattered segments of the Lord’s Resistance Army in recent years; its remnants dispersed and regrouped in Uganda’s neighbors. In spring 2010, apparently desperate for new conscripts, Mr. Kony’s forces killed hundreds of villagers in the Congolese jungle and kidnapped hundreds more, according to witnesses interviewed at the time. Unlike the earlier effort, the 100 military advisers sent by Mr. Obama will be armed. They will be providing assistance and advice to their African hosts, Mr. Obama said, and “will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.” "