Obama Sends Soldiers to Help Hunt Down Joseph Kony

Marie-Paul Kimakosa lost most of her family to the LRA.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/5984594095/">Photo: Simon Rawles/Oxfam</a>/Flickr

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Just two weeks after his administration again waived military-aid restrictions on African countries where child soldiers fight and die, Obama says he is sending 100 US troops to central Africa to help regional armies hunt down war criminal Joseph Kony and other Lord’s Resistance Army leaders.

“These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA,” Obama said in a letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner.

US soldiers will have a limited role in the operation—they are there to give “information, advice, and assistance,” and are not to engage in combat unless it’s necessary for self-defense.

This move comes a little over a year after Obama signed the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, a bill promising that the US would do more to end the violent rule of Kony and the LRA in parts of Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

What makes Kony such a target? Though a far less visible international figure than, say, Muammar Gaddafi, he’s the top leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army and one of the world’s six most-feared war criminals. His guerrilla army has a track record of violent human rights violations that include killing or kidnapping at least 6,000 people and displacing around 400,000 in just the past three years. Started in Uganda, it has been operating since 1987.

The LRA is also notorious for forcing kidnapped children to become child soldiers and using rape as a war tactic. Over the past two decades, Kony has enlisted an estimated 25,000 child soldiers from Northen Uganda.

“The Lord’s Resistance Army preys on civilians—killing, raping, and mutilating the people of central Africa; stealing and brutalizing their children; and displacing hundreds of thousands of people,” Obama wrote in a statement released in May 2010 after he signed the aforementioned bill. “We must all renew our commitments…to support efforts to bring the LRA leadership to justice.”

A year later, Obama has taken a step to fulfill his promise.

A group of human rights organizations, including Resolve, the Enough Project, and Invisible Children, are applauding Obama’s action. “By deploying these advisers, President Obama is showing decisive leadership to help regional governments finally bring an end to the LRA’s mass atrocities,” said Paul Ronan, Resolve’s Director of Advocacy.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate