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Kony 2012: Five heretical thoughts on the fracas

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James Akena/Reuters

(Read caption) Residents watch the premiere of 'Kony 2012,' a 30-minute YouTube film created by the non-profit group Invisible Children, in Lira district located 234 miles north of Uganda's capital Kampala, last week.

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•  A version of this post appeared on the blog "Congo Siasa." The views expressed are the author's own.

I resisted, now I have to succumb to the temptation of joining the fracas that is Kony2012. Some thoughts about some apparent assumptions, in no particular order. 

The Kony2012 video is simplistic and reductive.

Absolutely. Notably, the video says little about what gave rise to the killing and the LRA itself, and what the current situation in Uganda is. 

However, the video never says (as some have claimed) that the LRA currently numbers 30,000 child soldiers, just that they have abducted that many over the course of their existence (which is apparently in the correct order of magnitude). 

The video also never says that the LRA is still in Uganda, although they could have made this clearer. 

This reductionism is dangerous and can only lead to bad solutions. 

Hold on - let's not be reductionist ourselves here! The video is a bit weak on solutions - in fact, it isn't clear what exactly their policy rec is. They like the fact that the US has deployed 100 advisers to the Ugandan army, and they seem to think that these advisers are in danger of being withdrawn - which, as far as I can see, is not the case. So the video looks like a bit of ex-post facto self-justification rather than a targeted advocacy effort.

At the end of the day, it is policy makers who call the shots, influenced by what their constituencies tell them to do. In this case, one could argue that the video has successfully put the LRA on their agenda - but not necessarily to do what the video tells them to do. Policy-makers should be smart enough (I flinch as I write this) to dodge the relevant potholes. 

The video neglects the fact the northern Uganda is largely peaceful now and needs support for community development and livelihoods more than anti-LRA initiatives.


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