Commentary: What You Should Know About Kony

Commentary: What You Should Know About Kony

A new campaign to end civil war and capture Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony is on a lot of people’s minds these days.

Published March 7, 2012

How do you get more than seven million views on an online video in less than 48 hours?  The people at Invisible Children figured out the formula: Spotlight a horrible guerrilla warrior, in this case Uganda’s Joseph Kony, and then go into detail about the awful damage he’s wrought.


In deference to those who haven’t seen the video yet, Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an organization of rebel soldiers — many of them children forced to fight — intent on making the Ten Commandments the law of the land in Uganda. Kony and his thugs are Christian soldiers, but they certainly don’t behave the way Jesus did: In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Kony and other members of the LRA, charging them with crimes against humanity, including rape, murder, and enslavement. Kony has repeatedly promised to end his killings in peace talks. But eventually he always gets back to killing.


If it wanted to, America and other western nations could very easily summon enough soldiers to go into Uganda and quickly wipe out the LRA, capture or kill Kony, and then exit. America’s not going to do that, however, because Uganda is not a strategic country with ties to American national security or American financial interests. What America did do, however, was send 100 military ambassadors into Uganda last year to better train the nation’s army in the hope of capturing Kony. Kony soon got wise to the heightened forces, however, and he changed his tactics and went underground.


Invisible Children’s new campaign is dedicated to reinvigorating the world’s intolerance for Kony and his crimes. They’re going after dozens of cultural tastemakers and politicians in the hope that the conversation and concern will grow enough to get rid of Kony once and for all.


Before you go into this Kony project ready to fully support the work, you should also read the literature that says Invisible Children isn’t as great an organization it may have you believe. There are people who say Invisible Children doesn’t use funds as smartly as it should, and others who disapprove of its marketing style. But regardless of what you think about those particular problems, there’s really no getting around the fact that Invisible Children is one of the loudest proponents of fixing things in Uganda. They’re not perfect, but because of them, at least seven million people have focused on Joseph Kony this week when they wouldn’t have otherwise. That seems like a success and a step toward ending a terrible evil.


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(Photo: Adam Pletts/Getty Images)

Written by Cord Jefferson


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