“The grass will always suffer when two elephants fight” why a KONY war is a Phoney war

15 03 2012

Never trust a man who preaches an end to war with an AK-47 in his hands

Did anyone else go to bed full of hope last Wednesday night only to wake up with a dazed and confused feeling as the harsh reality set in on Thursday morning? I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, I got caught up in the hype and before I knew it found myself promoting something that actually may not really be in the best interests of the people of Uganda or as it turns out, myself.

Let me get one thing straight, I despise the military industrial complex that has dominated the post second world war era. It is a strong word hate, I try to avoid using it because it is the antithesis of love and love in all its wonderful complexity, is an all-consuming thing, something that if felt deep within can be projected out ten fold. So it is with hate, it too is rich with complexity and will consume you with the same vigour but with markedly darker consequences.

Therefore I try to avoid hate, but if I had to hate something it would be the idea that your military can dictate foreign policy, distribution of public spending and can pick and choose the wars to fight that either generate the most money or reinforce the economic principles of the invading country. You can imagine my state of mind therefore, waking up last Thursday to the realisation that I had helped communicate an idea that essentially supports the military industrial complex and the interests of American free market economics… KONY 2012, you nearly had me, but now I’m not so sure…

There are a number of aspects to this whole thing that have been widely discussed in the media and throughout the blogosphere in the past week, I’m sure most of you are aware by now that there have been question marks raised over the distribution of funds, the timing, the true motivations, the egotistical nature of the video and the focus on Uganda despite Kony’s diminished presence in recent years. If truth be told I think most of these doubts are valid, Invisible Children are pretty opaque as far as I can tell and nothing that has come out since the video hit 70 million views has done anything to arrest my doubts about their motivations.

If you haven’t seen the video of Ben Keesey -CEO of Invisible Children- responding to the criticisms, watch it below and you’ll see what I mean. For one thing the guy is just creepy and I have never heard someone use the words transparent or transparency so much in an 8 minute clip, you’d think he was a lobbyist for an oil company ;-). You will also notice how he seamlessly transitions from defending the questionable motives and finances of the organisation to shamelessly ramping up donations, quite the salesman…

Look I am absolutely certain that when Jason Russell, Ben Keesey and the rest of the Invisible Children head hauncho’s get out of bed in the morning, they do so with gusto, in the firm knowledge that they are making the world a better place, but I’m also absolutely certain that this was true for Hitler and Rebecca Brookes and is true for the likes of Bashar al-Assad and Piers Morgan.

I’m not saying that Invisible Children or Piers Morgan are Hitler, I’m just saying that everyone that does any wrong starts at a place of perceived nobility, be it a holocaust or a viral video that preaches peace by manhunt. Albert Camus once said “The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding”  

I think you could easily argue that Hitler’s fascist views came from a place of ignorance and that ignorance led him to do great evil in the belief that he was doing a great good, he didn’t see what he was doing as evil, no one ever does. I think you could also quite easily argue that the removal of one man -who’s influence continues to dwindle- by a foreign influenced Ugandan military will probably do more to heighten the tension in an area only just beginning to climb out of the mire from a 30 year conflict that goes way beyond Joseph Kony. So you can definitely argue that this film comes from a place of ignorance.

Kony by the way is pronounced as Kohn by most Ugandan’s and most other documentary makers, the irony of which should not be lost on you as that is precisely how this whole thing is starting to feel, like a bit of a con. You’ve certainly got to question both the level of understanding and the motivations of filmmakers who can’t even pronounce their protagonist’s name.

Whilst I cannot deny that the intentions of the filmmakers and all who are connected with invisible children are good, I do not believe that they come from a realistic place and I believe they’re actions may actually serve to create more conflict in the area and a subsequent influx of western corporations to rebuild and mine the natural resources for their own profit.

KONY 2012 has done some good though, it has awoken a sleeping majority to an issue that has lain dormant for far too long, to step outside of themselves. It has also planted a seed in the collective consciousness, one that says humanity does not have to be a top down organisation, there is power in the masses (particularly in an educated masses) to bring about real change, but there needs to be a deeper understanding before we start to demand said change.

These are good things and it is a seriously emotive video, (if little Gav doesn’t melt your heart then nothing will) there are lessons to be learnt on how to build a campaign and I admire their focus -something Occupy lacks- but I cannot endorse a focus on military action and an escalation of violence by foreign forces in an area in need of some peace.

I am a firm believer that we (the west) should cease meddling in foreign affairs until we have put our own house in order. Should we not be looking to the policy makers and the people who profit from the military industrial complex? How many of the conflicts in today’s world have their origins in American and European foreign policy and the unfair distribution of wealth?

Most I would say, and until we stop making money from these conflicts, removing one man will do nothing to change the situation in Uganda or Sri Lanka or Syria or anywhere else where human tragedy is a daily occurence. As the Ugandan saying that is the title of this post goes (taken from this great blog on KONY 2012) ‘The grass will always suffer when two elephants fight’. Are we an elephant?

So KONY 2012, great idea, wrong target, thanks but no thanks, maybe make LOBBYISTS famous 2012 would have been a better campaign?

P.S. watch this video response to KONY 2012 Hillarious!

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