U.S. Foreign Policy disguises self-interest as altruism. When we see oil and humanitarian crisis, we act: Iraq, Libya, and now Uganda.
Since at least 1997 the abhorrent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered at least 2,400, kidnapped at least 3,400, and displaced at least 300,000. LRA is an ideological group, led by batshit crazy polygamist preacher and self-proclaimed “Spokesman of God” Joseph Kony, which seeks a theocratic state in Uganda based on the Ten Commandments and local traditions.
Reports indicate that Kony and his dispicable cronies have been hiding for years. However, last week President Obama announced that, without consulting congress, he has authorized the deployment of some 100 ”combat-equipped U.S. forces” to the country in order to fight and hopefully kill or capture the vicious militant who has an international warrant for crimes against humanity.
With regards to the nearly two decades of atrocity, Obama pointed it out. “These forces will act as advisers to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA,” Obama said. “They will only be providing information, advice and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”
No doubt Uganda needs help; they are one of the world’s poorest nations (17th) and have failed thus far to combat the LRA effectively enough to stop them. It’s a good thing that we’re fighting this monster, but for a humanitarian crisis that has been ongoing for almost two decades, that has been the scourge of a nation and a domestic terror threat rivaling the worst guerillas in Africa, it took us this long?
Earlier this year, at least 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil were discovered along Uganda’s border. The Economist reports that the country expects to earn $2 billion a year beginning in 2015.
A week ago today, three Ugandan government officials resigned, and President Yoweri Museveni addressed the nation concerning what the New York Times called “mounting corruption scandals, particularly in the country’s nascent oil sector.”
Speaking at a public oil debate entiled “Fighting the Oil Curse,” Jackson Wabyoona, activist and president of Bunyoro Local Oil and Gas Advocacy, said, “Well connected officials and business people who had prior information on the oil discovery took advantage of the situation to acquire land from unsuspecting peasants while some of our people become landless.” Mr. Wabyoona added the compensation rates were “insufficient” to enable the original landowners, who are now landless, to live a better life.
The fact that oil was discovered earlier this year was at best a footnote in most news outlets. I did not find any journalistic output that points out the striking coincidence that we picked the year when oil was discovered in Uganda to assist in stablization (and I apologize in advance if it exists).
Libya, along with being plagued by Muammar Gadaffi’s injustice, is also the site of massive oil reserves: the largest in Africa. And again, Gadaffi’s atrocious human rights record didn’t begin in the months or years before our invasion there. It had been happening for decades.
On a sidenote, Rush Limbaugh had some infuriating, grossly misinformed comments about the invasion. “Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians,” said Limbaugh on his radio program. ”They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.”
In other words, “Obama is a muslim and hates Christians and look at me connecting the dots like a preschooler at playtime.” It’s not that simple, obviously. LRA are Christians the same way al-Qaeda are Muslims – that is, they are among the most selective distorters of doctrines that otherwise preach peace and acceptance.
What is clear: decision-making in U.S. foreign policy, long touted by our officials as humanitarian and altruistic, is deeply entrenched in economic factors, such as energy consumption.