October 28, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Michael M’Gehee:
Nearly two weeks ago the New York Times (NYT) published a piece on President Obama’s latest invasion of Africa. It was a blog by Robert Mackey titled “Human Rights Group Welcomes Obama’s Decision to Send Troops to Uganda.”
In the piece we are told by Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) that “there is no better case for the humanitarian use of force than the urgent need to arrest Joseph Kony, the ruthless leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.), and protect the civilians who are his prey.”
The problem with such a statement is it can only look like a humanitarian intervention if you ignore the historical situation of it all.
In August of 1990 the world is flipping out about Iraq invading Kuwait. Former President George HW Bush is on television telling the world, “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.”
Two months later while Uganda’s President/Dictator Yoweri Museveni is in New York and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) leader, Paul Kagame (now President/Dictator of Rwanda), is at Fort Leavenworth learning how to plan an invasion, the RPF (which was basically a wing of the US-backed Ugandan military) invade Rwanda in a much more violent and gruesome war that lasted for 4 years, and that ends with the assassination of Rwanda’s President Habyarimana—an event that triggers the genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the RPF, and the overthrow of the Rwandan government. Then Uganda and Kagame’s Rwanda invade Democratic Republic of Congo where six million people are killed, not including those wounded or turned into refugees.
Throughout the period of what is inappropriately called a “civil war”, from October 1990 to April 1994, the US and Western powers say and do nothing to stop the aggression against Rwanda. There is no brave leader saying, “This will not stand, this aggression against Rwanda.” In fact they are helping the aggressors, just as they helped them in the Congo.
Fast forward to today.
Somehow, not long after the discovery of a huge amount of oil in Uganda, an “army” of 400-500 people that have been operating since 1987 and have already been severely weakened, and who are responsible for considerably less deaths (exact figures are unknown but estimated to run in the tens of thousands) than what is attributed to the more than seven million people killed (again, not including the wounded or the millions more who were made into refugees) by Museveni and Kagame, are now such a humanitarian threat to Uganda and the region that interfering on Museveni’s behalf warrants a human rights group to say, “there is no better case for the humanitarian use of force.”
When there are “worthy victims” who get our attention and compassion and “unworthy victims” who, happen to be in much greater numbers, get our silence the unavoidable question is: How else can one interpret this farcical display of concern for human rights—by a media outlet that constantly acts as an echo chamber for state violence, and a human rights group that presents itself as a voice for the oppressed—but as serving the propaganda interests of the US/Western establishment?