Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bad, bad, bad

Once again the United States military was involved somewhere it had absolutely no place being and the consequences were horrific blowback for civilians. The United States military was and is helping the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudanese military attack the long struggling vicious rebels, the Lord Resistance Army or LRA. The LRA is legendary for slaughtering civilians and impressing children into service. They have been fighting and living off the land for more than twenty years, back and forth across the Ugandan border with the Congo (Zaire) and Sudan leaving mayhem and tragedy in their wake.

The United States military aligned under King George the II and the rubric of counter-terrorism with many a kleptocrat's army and/or security services. In Uganda, it is quite likely their intentions were beneficent insofar as the LRA has been a scourge for those living within its reach. The Pentagon also probably felt that Uganda/Congo needed to be pushed as far back from the edge of utterly failed states as possible, disorder implicitly hurts the Empire, see the fingers and toes being burned in Waziristan and Puntland.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the combined militaries offensive against the LRA which began with airstrikes on December 14th has resulted in a tragic slaughter,
"hundreds of other fighters from the LRA have butchered, bludgeoned, and burned their way across an area the size of Belgium. More than 900 people are estimated to have been killed, most of them hacked to death with machetes or beaten by clubs. Hundreds of children have been abducted and 133,000 people have fled their homes, the UN says. The push against the rebels has been 'catastrophic' for civilians, UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said Tuesday after visiting one of the areas hit hardest by fighting."
Nonetheless, interestingly the Monitor reports Holmes and the UN support continuing the fight to destroy the LRA. Not everyone agrees, the New York Times says, "the operation has been widely criticized by human rights groups as essentially swatting a hornet’s nest...Faradje, [a town near a national park in Eastern Congo,] still has the whiff of char. Around 150 people were killed Christmas Day. Several other villages, some more than 100 miles away, were simultaneously attacked. In one town, after the rebels killed 80 churchgoers, they ate the villagers’ Christmas feast and then dozed among the corpses, according to Human Rights Watch, which documented the massacre."

The NY Times says what it calls the "failed" plan was personally authorized by Bush II. It says local Congolese villagers have started arming themselves in self-defense because there is no one else to protect them. It argues that in the past this has worsened the conflict the American military was hoping to end.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that the UN has been little help in ending the conflict either, "Doctors Without Borders, one of the few NGOs still working in the area, has officially attacked the UN mission for not doing enough to defend the population, an accusation that [it] denies. The feeling of betrayal among locals is undeniable, however. Many say that if the UN is not fighting against the LRA, they must be helping them." Locals even rioted against and tried to storm the UN base last year.

It is a mess that the American military now looks complicit in making worse. The more of the counter-terrorism policy of the Bush-Cheney regime that is revealed the more Soviet it looks.

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