The Obama administration recently deployed about 150 Special Operation troops, as well as, military aircraft to the landlocked African country Uganda to aid in the search for Kony.
The question is – Why now? The height of Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s terror was in the early 1990’s. The organization fled Uganda, around 2005, dispersing into the surrounding areas of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. Yet the US government did not initiate substantial ground support until 2008.
To date the US government has invested $40 million and supplied around 300 Special Forces troops in the hunt for Kony, though Col. Kevin Leahy, commander of the Special Operation troops stated, “For all intents and purposes the LRA is a defeated force.”
The US ambassador to Uganda, Scott DeLisi, defended US involvement saying, “Kony merits U.S. involvement because his malign behavior runs counter to ‘our core values.’”
Sudden interest in Uganda was more likely sparked by the 2006 discovery of substantial oil reserves. It is estimated that the oil reserves will earn at least $2billion per year for 30 years. The start of oil production has been hampered by costly delays mainly attributed to political instability and corruption scandals. Without stability and a drastic improvement in infrastructure, Uganda is landlocked making it logistically difficult, oil production will continue to be delayed.
Accusations the US government’s interest in Uganda was more strategic than humanitarian initially arose after the viral Stop Kony 2012 campaign. US forces were present before the campaign but it was largely an unknown issue to the public.
Suggestions state the video was simply propaganda to sway the public opinion and garner approval for continuing the US government’s involvement.
These suspicions gained strength due to the questionability of the Invisible Children organization. The organization refused to participate in the Better Business Bureau’s charity review for 6 years and was criticized for a lack of transparency. The organization claimed 80.46% of funds raised were spent directly on Africa based programs. However, it was discovered only a mere 37% was spent on programs in Africa. Furthermore, JPMorgan Chase & Co donated $1 million to Invisible Children. JPMorgan Chase & Co is the corporate broker for Tullow Oil which is one of the three oil companies attempting to develop the Ugandan oil reserves.
Jpmorgan Chase & Co and Tullow Oil have a vested interest in Uganda’s stability and continual US Government presence in the country. Both companies guaranteed the public support of US government involvement by the slickly produced short film.
The US hunt for Kony seems to be an attempt to secure alliances and loyalty from Uganda which will eventually be repaid in oil.
Chariese is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.