Submitted by: Nate Buckley
The Koney 2012 film done by the organization Invisible Children lays out ‘dire humanitarian crisis’ and proposes as a solution US military intervention. Africa has had enough Western intervention, colonialism, neo-colonialism and ‘saviors.’ This campaign has also gotten mysteriously enormous amounts of press coverage on the internet, newspaper, TV, radio and magazines. This essay is to show a pattern of Western intervention policy that has anything but humanitarian aims.
“White racist notions are so deep-rooted within capitalist society that the failure of African agriculture to advance was put down to the inherent inferiority of the African. It would be much truer to say that it was due to the white intruders, although the basic explanation is to be found not in the personal ill-will of the colonialists or in their racial origin, but rather in the organized viciousness of the capitalist/ colonialist system.” Walter Rodney in his book “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”
Back to the 1500’s, before the large scale 350 year slave trade, before the massive invasion of Africa by western colonial powers, before the International Monetary Fund(IMF)/World Bank(WB)/World Trade Organization(WTO) forced Africa into economic slavery through debt. Africa was rich in land, resources and civilizations that stood on par with that of any other society in the world. Watching American portrayals of Africa in the media would lead one to believe that Africans are to blame for their poverty, hunger, environmental degradation, slavery, and are incapable of governing themselves. On the opposite end, most American media implies that the wealth and empire in Europe and America is due to hard work, ingenuity, and superiority. Both of those concepts are completely false. Both are pretexts, justifications for some of history’s most vicious crimes committed against Africa.
The Koney 2012 film would lead you to the idea of there being something fundamentally wrong with Africa and Africans. The video pins the blame on one individual while not addressing history, existing governments, larger institutions or systematic oppression. “Well aware of the susceptibility of foreigners explanations of ‘ancient tribal hatreds’ among Africans, (the genocidal regime) repeatedly underlined the supposedly ‘tribal’ nature of the killings in an effort to mask the deliberate role played by the authorities,” Human Rights Watch in reference to the Rwanda genocide in 1994.
Many people know about the Rwandan genocide, of which well over 500,000 people were murdered in a country with the population of only 7.8 million. Most killed were those from the Tutsi minority by the majority population of the Hutu. What is not known so widely is that Belgium and German colonialists in aim to control Rwanda consciously created the ethnic divide between the Hutu and the Tutsi beginning in the early 1900’s. The Hutu and Tutsi often intermarried and share the same language and are almost indistinguishable. The Tutsi minority were used as the ruling class to administer colonial rule and the Hutu were constructed as the impoverished ruled majority. This ethnic divide was so false and created that when the Hutu gained wealth they became “Tutsi”, and Tutsi that became poor, they turned “Hutu”. Just like in Nazi Germany, the Belgium colonialist government issued identity cards in the 1930’s and required every adult to carry one. This identification system lasted all the way up to the genocide, which served as a death sentence for those identified as Tutsi. The regime responsible for the genocide was the Hutu Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRDN). The MRDN used the existing divide to keep control. The MRDN used the government radio to kick up anti-Tutsi hysteria with false reports. The dire poverty created through European and American exploitation acted as powder keg when the impoverished, landless Hutu were told they would obtain the property of any Tutsi they killed. This extremist regime was supported by the US and France who also sold them millions of dollars of weapons. The US and France were completely complicit and no where to be found when these arms that they sold were being used as weapons of mass murder. Though there was no consequence for those who profited off this horror.
Human Rights Watch also states, in reference to outbreaks of violence following the toppling of the Neo-Colonial South African Apartheid, “While communal tensions are obviously a necessary ingredient of an explosive mix, they are not sufficient to unleash widespread violence. Rather, time after time, the proximate cause of communal violence is governmental exploitations of communal differences.” South Africa was colonized by the Dutch, then the English. To rule more effectively the colonialists divided and conquered. The English brought in slaves from all their other colonies around the world and forced a pass system and other measures to foment, heighten and exacerbate ethnic divisions. Human Rights Watch goes on to state “The combination of economic immiseration, social disintegration and political repression resulting from [apartheid] led to brutal competition for resources between the poor and the very poor, the employed and the unemployed, those who lived in formal township housing and migrant workers from the hostels or shack dwellers from the squatter camps. As the overt machinery of apartheid was dismantled… the lid was taken off the boiling pot of black resentment created by these conditions”
How can a continent so rich in resources, land, and people be so poor?
It is estimated that over 100 million slaves were forcibly stolen from Africa for European/American wealth and expansion. That does not include the countless numbers of unknown Africans who died in wars to enslave the once free people. During the years 1650 and 1850 the African continent’s population stagnated, while Europe’s more than doubled. The Europeans fostered and fomented ethnic and religious divides to force millions into slavery. This is classically known as divide and conquer. The king of Manikongo civilization, Nzinga Mbemba Afonso, describes this process and its effects, “Each day the traders are kidnapping our people—children of this country, sons of our nobles and vassals, even people of our own family. This corruption and depravity are so widespread that our land is entirely depopulated. We need in this kingdom only priests and schoolteachers, and no merchandise, unless it is wine and flour for Mass. It is our wish that this Kingdom not be a place for the trade or transport of slaves. Many of our subjects eagerly lust after Portuguese merchandise that your subjects have brought into our domains. To satisfy this inordinate appetite, they seize many of our black free subjects…. They sell them. After having taken these prisoners [to the coast] secretly or at night….. As soon as the captives are in the hands of white men they are branded with a red-hot iron”
This slave trade, while horrific and impoverishing for the Africans and Africa, was extremely lucrative and successful for the European, and American capitalists. That is how places like Lisbon, Portugal, and all of the colonies on stolen land in the Americas, became wealthy and powerful. This wealth and power was produced off the backs of African slave labor. That is how America was built. Imagine if all this wealth was kept in Africa and not in America and Europe. The slave trade resulted in millions of people killed, tortured, raped, abused, unimaginable human rights violations and the ones most responsible, while benefiting from this carnage, got rich. The wealthy and powerful almost never face prosecution or negative consequences for their crimes.
To show the extent of the deliberate and conscious thought of the Colonialists I will use their own firsthand account. British imperialist, Oxford graduate, founder of the De beers diamond company, politician and millionaire Cecil Rhodes says it very clearly on his thoughts of Africa. “Africa is still lying ready for us.” He wrote. “It is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes-that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race; more of the best, the most human, most honorable race the world possesses.”
Cecil Rhodes had acquired so much African property and wealth and power that Rhodesia which is now Zimbabwe was named after him. “I contend that we are the first race in the world, and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race.” Said Cecil Rhodes “If there be a God, I think that what he would like me to do is paint as much of the map of Africa British Red as possible.”
While the slave trade continued a more dominant and complete control was desired by Europe. This desire for more profit, land and control gave rise to Colonization. Colonization was much more devastating than the slave trade to the African Continent. Colonialism consists of whole sale theft, murder and plunder of the entire continent by Europe. Almost the entire continent was colonized. Great, amazing civilizations destroyed. Africans, who were accustomed to using subsistent farming techniques with diverse crops, were forced into slave wages to grow monoculture cash crops for profit of the colonists. This cash crop process exhausted the soil, began the process of desertification and produced famine and poverty. In one instance, in 1904, 100,000 acres of the most fertile land in Kenya were given to Lord Delamere for a penny an acre by the British crown. In addition to agriculture, the natural resources were taken and stripped off the land for next to nothing, again using African labor at slave wages. During this process tribal conflicts were exasperated, fostered and fomented by these imperial powers to divide, conquer and exploit. Africans had to spend many of their depleting resources, time and energy on military and defense. On top of the impoverishment and theft, the colonists taxed Africans for all the good ‘advancement’ and ‘civilization’ they were bringing the people. Europe not only stole Africans as slaves, they also used Africans in their colonial armies to fight for their imperial interests.
On the other hand, European and American ruling classes flourished. With cheap labor, cheap resources and cheap military power, Europe and America built empires, industry, technology, universities, and infrastructure. After goods were produced in these factories they were sold back to places like Africa at exorbitant rates. There is a direct correlation between wealth and poverty, the 1st world and the 3rd world, the colonized and the colonizer, the empire and the subjugated, the conqueror and the conquered, the slave owner and the slave. That relationship is that one lives like a leach off the other. It is that kind of relationship that results in the dire impoverishment, hardship and suffering for one party while in return allowing the other party to live “high off the hog.” Again during all this conquest, slaughter and theft the authorities who were benefiting from this got rich not prosecuted.
As quoted at the beginning of this essay, Walter Rodney’s book on How Europe Underdeveloped Africa shows how Europe was deliberate, conscious, forceful and extremely violent in the impoverishment of Africa for the advancement of their wealth and power. A great book to read.
After WWII began next phase in the continual exploitation of Africa was Neo-colonialism. This came in the form of covert assassinations of leaders, economic sanctions, political destabilizations and generating racial, ethnic and religious differences to divide the people by former colonial governments. This is done subversively to keep the same colonial relationship without overt colonialism. A case in point is that after Belgium rule of the Congo was overturned, the new government was destabilized and leaders assassinated. Eventually in the Congo a US puppet regime run by Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was put into place. Seko was a dictator who would allow the Congo to stay a country where foreign imperialists can find cheap labor and almost free natural resources with no worry about worker regulations, environmental regulations or social programs to decrease their profit margins. The first elected Prime Minister of the Congo was Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba was murdered by a coordinated effort of the Belgium secret forces and the US CIA. This is a fact shown by documents produced by their own agencies. Belgium apologized; the US did not. Was that considered a war crime? Was it prosecuted? Of course not.
Another case in point example of Neo-colonialism is the case of Ghana. Britain had exploited Ghana through direct colonial rule for almost 100 years before Ghana gained independence. Not only did the British control the decision making power, the labor, the resources and the ports but they used people from Ghana in their imperialist wars abroad. During WWII 65,000 Ghanaian soldiers fought for its colonial ruler Britain. Imagine if that role was reversed that 65,000 British soldiers were used at whim and desire of a Ghanaian global empire. This colonialism was defeated when Ghana fought, striked, demonstrated and won its independence from the British Empire in 1957.
“As long as capitalism and imperialism go unchecked there will always be exploitation, and an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, and all the evils of imperialism and neo-colonialism which breed and sustain wars,” wrote Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah, the first democratically president of Ghana after the independence from British Colonial Rule. This new government was under attack from neo-colonial powers especially the US CIA. A US/Western backed coup ousted Nkrumah and put in a puppet regime friendly to the US and western business interests. Robert Komer, special assistant for US national security affairs, wrote a congratulatory statement to the new President the year of the coup (1966). Speaking of Nkrumah, Komer said, “The coup in Ghana, is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.” Nkrumah was exiled where he then worked to unite all of Africa to rid itself of colonialist exploitation. Nkrumah wrote in exile from Guinea three years later about the coup, “there has been resort to violence in order to promote a change of regime and prepare the way for the establishment of a puppet government.”
Nkrumah also wrote about the divide and conquer strategy of Europe and the US to exploit and control Africa. “By far the greatest wrong which the departing colonialists inflicted on us, and which we now continue to inflict on ourselves in our present state of disunity, was to leave us divided into economically unviable States which bear no possibility of real development….” A great book to read by Kwame Nkrumah is Neo-Colonialism: The highest stage of colonialism. Another book to read about the role of the US CIA in Ghana and many other locations is by former CIA case officer, John Stockwell, in his memoir, In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story.
“What you’ll never be told in any mainstream text book or news report is that today’s world economy has evolved into a colossal system of debt peonage, with some 70 nations and billions of human beings in its cruel thrall. It’s a system that brings unprecedented wealth to the superrich while, quite literally squeezing the life blood out of the people who can least afford it.”- David Gilbert writes a book review for DARK VICTORY -The United States, Structural Adjustment and Global Poverty by Walden Bello. Another great book to read, along with David Gilberts is No Surrender from which I have gotten a lot of this information.
This next phase of exploitation takes its form in debt slavery. The main and most well-known debt enslavers are the World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Once these countries have been over-exploited, underdeveloped and looted they are in desperate need of capital to invest to improve their countries. Then they have been set up for the next trap. They are forced to go to the criminal exploiter to borrow money. After these countries are indebted to these organizations and cannot pay them back then the banks force Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP’s). SAP’s consist of primarily harsh austerity measures which we in the US are seeing right now. To summarize an austerity measure, it is the cut back in spending on social programs like education, housing, the Post Office, health care, social security, and the roll back on regulations for worker safety, worker rights, consumer protections, environmental regulations, ect. This process devalues the local currency making it cheaper to buy the country’s natural resources at a cheap price and make it harder for the people to buy what they need to survive. This policy has further thrown Africa into yet a worse economic, political and social poverty. Though the IMF/WB/WTO claim to develop and strengthen economies, a UNICEF study of 24 such African countries showed that capital accumulation slowed in 20 of them, manufacture declined or stagnated in 18 and even the total dollar value of exports declined in the majority. This process in all the countries enlarged the gap between the rich and the poor and also accelerated the degradation of the environment. Speaking of World Bank policy Vandava Shiva (author of many books well worth reading including Soil not Oil, Biopiracy, Staying Alive) states, “The last resources of the poor are taken over by the rich, and the poor are pushed into ‘pollution reservations’ to live with waste. They themselves are treated as waste, to be dispensed with either through poisoning and pollution… or through population control and denial of health care to children.”
Millions upon Millions of Africans die every year of hunger. There is enough food now to feed the world; however, by design people starve. Millions more die from lack of health care, though hundreds of billions are spent on foreign wars here in the US. The US military has a larger budget than all the other militaries in the world combined! There are many examples of Africans taking back their land and providing much better life for their people. In one example a country didn’t owe anything to the World Bank or the IMF. This country did not owe anyone any money and actually had billions in reserves. This country was one country that had kicked out the western business interests from stealing billions of dollars of private wealth off their natural resources. This country took their oil and nationalized it. This country had a water pipeline pumping water from the south to deserts in the north. This country in Africa had socialized medicine, housing and education. This country had the highest standard of living in ALL of Africa! A country that was independent, with a high standard of living this was the real crime of that country and its demonized leader. In the Koney Film you can see this leader on the list of criminals according to the International Criminal Courts (ICC). This country was Libya. One of their leaders was Muammar Gaddafi, who was murdered by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO bombed Libya back to where the US and Europe want all of Africa, and the world for that matter, which is in to dire, desperate poverty. With populations who are so desperately poor and under educated they will work for anything, accept low standards of living and with no resources or decision making power or access to it. Though the US and NATO say the intervention was done for humanitarian and freedom reasons. There was a total of more than 2.7 billion dollars spent on war that murdered thousands and destroyed the country with the best standard of living in all of Africa. People are dying of starvation but NATO decides to use its money that way, to murder thousands leaving devastation behind in their tracks. This is no coincidence. Where was the outcry from invisible children then? Where are the war crimes against NATO officials?
While this Koney Film goes all the way around the world to find injustice and violence, the US itself has the most funded, most violent, most polluting and is the largest user of resources of any military force on earth. The US is the “The largest purveyor of violence on the earth,” as Martin Luther King (MLK) said back in the 60’s. The excuse for the existence of this huge military was the ‘red scare’, the communists, ‘the domino effect’. Now that cold war is over and isn’t a ‘threat’ still our military expands. Then the excuse ‘scary dictators’ was used to justify the US invading countries, murdering people by the thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands, and sometimes over a million also including whole sale theft of land, resources and labor. Many of the very dictators and ‘rouge states’ that the US has invaded in the past decades found their way into power through funding, backing and training by the USA CIA and military. Some examples of this are; Sadam Hussein in Iraq, Emanuel Noriega in Panama, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden ‘worldwide terrorist.’ The US will employ murder, human rights abuses, theft, drug sales, torture and genocide when it suits their interests.
The Koney movie tries to say there is no economic or political positioning in Uganda for the US intervention. The movie states that the US would go in for merely humanitarian reasons. The US is global empire! Global empires exist to have global domination. There is not one square inch of this globe that is not of interest to it. Although Empire’s goals are world domination, through limitations and available resources some areas are more strategic than others. The US military exists for one sole reason- to act as a force to protect the wealth and expand the rule of an elite minority.
To continue to support such an enormous military we in America have to be indoctrinated in to thinking the US is spreading democracy as the leader of the free world. This military burden creates hardship here in the US where we lose out on essential public services and public works. “In order to bring a nation to support the burdens of maintaining great military establishments,” says John Foster Dulles secretary of state in the Eisenhower administration, “it is necessary to create an emotional state akin to war psychology. There must be the portrayal of external menace” Mumia Abu Jamal author of many books including We Want Freedom hits the nail on the head when he says, “US special forces could have knocked off Osama the week after September 11th. Why didn’t they? Because if they did there would have been no pretext to invade Iraq. The public with its great thirst slate by revenge would have never supported it. So Osama like Mubarak, like Ben Ali and like Gaddafi have out lived their usefulness to the empire. Remember then general Colin Powell’s [former Commander of the US army, and former Secretary of State] quip ‘Were running out of Boogey Men?’ The media and political establishment like to raise up demons to unsettle American comfort. Osama fulfilled that function for ten years. They don’t need him any more.” The US military and ruling circles are quite keen and knowledgeable of the necessity of manipulating the public who carries the entire burden and no spoils of the Military Industrial Complex. The Obama administration has already sent 100 military personal to Uganda; Koney is a perfect Boogey man to use as the next pretext to invade Africa.
The US spends over 707.5 billion for wars!! Again that is more money than all other countries spend on military combined! And the solution suggested by this film is to spend more funds to bring more troops to Africa, stating there is no US interests in Uganda. What nonsense! The Invisible Children (IC) organization itself has shown that it has an over 8 million dollar budget yearly. Only under one third of that is used to help Ugandan people directly. The IC act as if it was a victory to bring US troops into Uganda. There are US military bases in over 75 countries around the world! One of the newest military bases in Iraq is larger than Vatican City. This Base has with its own water and energy supply and this is the US’s notion of the ending occupation and war.
This next paragraph is of no comparison to children being stolen and forced into armies. Though out of the last 3 generations of my family, there were 7 available men for the armed service. Of those available men 2 grandfathers and 2 uncles served the US armed forces. That is 4 out of 7, and of that, 3 were drafted. Drafted means forced into the military to murder for the interests of the US government. My father and other uncles missed the draft by the lottery system. From my own family’s experience, I know the pain and suffering of war is not just something that just goes away. The pain and suffering from war is something that should never be understated. That is why again I, like MLK, am adamantly opposed to capitalism, militarism and racism, and why I am opposed to the US government’s wars of aggression at home and abroad.
When I think of Facebook bringing social change, Egypt usually comes to mind. Egypt, where the people ousted the dictator and human rights abuser Hosni Mubarak. It has been over a year since that uprising forced that change and presidential elections still have not taken place. US foreign aid payments have funded Mubarak, and the Egyptian Military for decades. The US today funds the Military who are still in control. Egypt usually ranks second in US foreign aid only being beaten by Israel, who uses the money to commit genocide upon the Palestinians. The Egyptian Military are the ones responsible for slaughtering peaceful protesters in the global occupy movement last fall. Of course that undemocratic, violent, oppressive force is only possible through US funds, our tax dollars. This democratic uprising for human rights, democracy and show of people power all happened despite and against the interests and efforts of the US. The US has and continues to be a violent undemocratic force of oppression in Egypt.
It is important to note that there are still significant and pressing racial issues here in America, that need to be overcome. The US Empire simultaneously denies humanitarian crisis here in America to cause humanitarian crisis around the world. It is important to make it known that the US is not the benign leader of the free world Africans here in America, once stolen from Africa as slaves, still face treatment as second class citizens today. Malcom X, in reference to the US parading around the world both as the largest empire and still claiming itself as the leader of the free world once said, “Uncle Sam still has the audacity or the nerve to stand up and represent himself as the leader of the free world. Not only is he a crook, he’s a hypocrite. Here he is standing up in front of other people, Uncle Sam, with the blood of your and mine mothers and fathers on his hands, with the blood dripping down his jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf, and still got the nerve to point his finger at other countries. You can’t even get civil rights legislation. And this man has got the nerve to stand up and talk about South Africa, or talk about Nazi Germany, or talk about Deutschland. Why? No more days like those.”
Fannie Lou Hamer, known as the lady who was “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” was the granddaughter of slaves and a daughter to sharecroppers. She played a leading and significant role in the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960’s. When speaking about a campaign to register black voters where she was beaten and jailed she had this to say, “All of this is on account we want to register [sic], to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings – in America?”
The mass incarceration of African Americans in America acts as the newest way of denial of voting rights, educational opportunities and jobs. Just look at the voting scandals in Florida and Ohio less than a decade ago and the legislation they have passed in a few states requiring ID cards to vote. Currently in the US incarcerates black males at a rate of 5 times that of South Africa during the worst years of the Apartheid! As in Africa we can see the American so called democracy has continually exploited African Americans. First slavery, then sharecropping, then Jim Crow segregation and now mass incarceration and poverty serve as a means to exploit and profit. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis are great books which spell out the current racist and classist injustice in great detail. There were massive amounts of money made off slavery, share cropping, and now the Prison Industrial complex. As MLK said, “We are now making demands that will cost the nation something. You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with the captains of industry. . . . Now this means that we are treading in difficult waters, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong . . . with . . . capitalism. . . . There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism.”
Just as the CIA destabilized Africa to divide and conquer the FBI and the CIA did the same in America. Discovered CIA and FBI files show assassinations of Black leaders, fomenting divisions, using torture as an interrogation tactic, demonization of leaders and organizations through the community to destroy pubic support, the spreading of intentional lies, destroying organizations, pushing drugs into Black communities, wrongfully jailing activists- all to divide and conquer. Although there were congressional hearings about this terror campaign in the US congress led by senator Church called “COINTELPRO: The FBI’s Covert Action Programs Against American Citizens.” Were there any consequences or prosecution for any of the perpetrators of these crimes which were committed not only against blacks but wide array of progressive forces in America? Of course not. Though Invisible Children with their Koney film and US foreign policy find it necessary to continually invade other countries to ‘spread democracy’ and find injustice!
Louis Farrakhan during an interview spoke to Mike Wallace about the Nation of Nigeria. In this interview after Wallace refers to Nigeria as the most corrupt nation in both Africa and the World Farrakhan replies, “35 years old that’s what that nation is. Now here is America 226 years old, you love democracy but there in Africa you are trying to force these people into a system of government that you just have accepted 30 years ago black folks got the right to vote. You are not in any moral position to tell anyone how corrupt they are. You should be quiet, and let those of us who know our people and go there and help them get out of that condition but America should keep her mouth shut where ever there is a corrupt regime as much hell as America has raised on the earth. No I will not allow America or you Mr. Wallace to condemn them as the most corrupt nation on the earth, when you have spilled the blood of human beings, has Nigeria dropped an atomic bomb and killed people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have they killed off millions of Native Americans… because with that much blood on America’s hands you have no right to speak.”
This idea or notion that it is ok to run to the largest purveyor of violence, human rights abuser, jailer, polluter to solve the problems of the world is completely backwards. That entire paradigm that exists as the US acting as a peace keeper, or neutral, or actually somehow able to stop murder with more force is beyond foolish it is betrayal. Just as Malcom X spoke of US imperialism close to 50 years ago “No more days like those.”
In the book To Kill A Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia author Michael Parenti explains the true interests being served of the US/NATO bombing and invasion of Yugoslavia. That the goals from that invasion were not humanitarian but they were rather wealth, power, land and resources. Parenti shows that media and government officials deliberately lied and distorted the truth in order to manipulate the public’s desire for justice and equality to further their agenda of global domination. Parenti puts it very concisely when he says, “I am not one of those critics who think that western policy vis-à-vis Yugoslavia has been misdirected or confused. Top policy makers are intelligent, resourceful, and generally more aware of what they are doing than those who see them as foolish and bungling. US policy is not filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. It has performed brilliantly and steadily in the service of those who own most of the world and who want to own all of it. That some critics may not know what the policy makers are doing does not mean the policy makers themselves do not know what they are doing. That Western leaders make misleading statements about their goals and intentions does not denote confusion on their part but a desire to confuse their publics as to what interests they are really serving.”
The Koney 2012 film itself is full of propaganda. It offers no facts. It shows the film maker’s son, random people, US officials and face book more than actual Ugandans. The solution suggested by this film to end the violence is to get the US military to intervene!?! That suggested solution sounds and seems like a social experiment put on by the elites to push their agenda using a pretext of caring about human rights. This social and media blitz about false humanitarianism as a reason for military force is not a new strategy. That has been the reason for many invasions.
An example of how PR firms, Media, government and ‘astro-turf’ organizations deliberately lied to further their agenda is the case of the Yugoslavian ‘Humanitarian’ intervention by the US and NATO in 1999. I take most of this text from To Kill a Nation by Michael Parenti who did extensive research. The US and the media did a one sided demonization campaign against the Serbian people, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and Milosevic. Until last year, the first thing I would think of in regards to Milosevic and Yugoslavia was the words genocide and dictator. Although both of those thoughts I had are false. Milosevic was not a dictator but democratically elected 3 times. Yugoslavia though was involved in war to keep its country together did not commit genocide. To forward domination, privatization and third worldization in the FRY, the US manipulated people into believing the Serbs and Milosevic were the “Butchers of Balkans.” On the contrary FRY was multi-cultural and diverse country. The story told by the Press is that Milosevic began his ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign against the Albanians in Kosovo in a 1989 speech where he was quoted in reference to the FRY saying, “Citizens of different nationalities, religions, and races have been living together more and more frequently and more and more successfully. Socialism in particular, being a progressive and just democratic society, should not allow people to be divided in the national and religious respect,” Milosevic went on, “Yugoslavia is a multinational community and it can survive only under the conditions of full equality for all nations that live in it.” Yugoslavia was a country that was “built on an idea” that idea was that a united Slavic people (from which the word slave is derived) would not be easily divided and exploited by Imperialist forces. To link this back to the situation in Africa, Nkrumah the first elected president of Ghana once said, “History has shown that where the Great Powers cannot colonize, they balkanize. This is what they did to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and this is what they have done and are doing in Africa. If we allow ourselves to be balkanized, we shall be re-colonized and be picked off one after the other….”
Nkrumah uses the word “Balkanize” as a way to show divide and conquer strategy in the Balkans where Yugoslavia is located. This is exactly what the US/NATO’s agenda was- to divide and conquer, to turn Yugoslavia into a group of small mono-culture right wing colonies that were so divided and torn up that they were at the whim of the Western powers. NATO and the US supported the division of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into states based on religion and race. NATO/US supported Nazi sympathizers and SS members as leaders in Croatia and Bosnia. The US and NATO supported the extreme factions with in Croatia and Bosnia that wanted states of one primary race and religion. Tudjman who was president of Croatia after it split off from Yugoslavia wrote a book Wastelands of Historical Truth wherein he said “the establishment of Hitler’s new European order can be justified by the need to be rid of the Jews.” Izetbegovic who was president of Bosnia after it split from Yugoslavia was a member of the Young Muslims organization who actively recruited Muslim units for the SS during WWII. Izetbegovic plans were to create an Islamic state; he was quoted “Islamic society without an Islamic government is incomplete and impotent.”
Although the US and NATO supported these extremist leaders who believed in racial and religious superiority, they demonized Milosevic and the Serbs. Ruder & Finn was a Public Relations(PR) firm hired for Croatia, Muslim Bosnia and the Albanian Parliamentary opposition in Kosovo. Ruder & Finn’s goal was to manipulate the media and public to support US/NATO intervention in Bosnia. Ruder & Finn’s director, James Harff, was most pleased with the manipulation of Jewish Public opinion to support the intervention. Ruder & Finn along with the media and US government got the support of several major Jewish Organizations including- the B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Community, and the American Jewish Congress. This was a very hard task considering the anti-sematic US supported leaders in Bosnia and Croatia and with the large number of Jews killed in the Nazi concentration camps in Croatia during WWII. During an interview with French Journalist Jacques Merlino, James Harff (director of Ruder & Finn) boasted in reference to the manipulation of the Jewish community, “That was a tremendous coup. When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the [Muslims] Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind. Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia…. By a single move we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter pay itself… almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, wit use of words with high emotional content such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘concentration camps,’ which evoke images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz.” Merlino interjected, “When you did this, you had no proof that what you said was true. All you had were two Newsday articles,” Harff replied, “Our work is not to verify information… Our work is to accelerate the circulation of information favorable to us… we are professionals. We had a job to do and we did it. We are not paid to moralize.” This sounds very much what is going on now with this Koney 2012 film. “Click this Button or African children will die” is something that this Koney campaign uses to manipulate the US and the World’s public opinion. The Koney 2012 campaign is being used the same way as Milosevic- create a simple good guy and bad guy to play on people’s morality and emotions to mobilize massive support for yet another US invasion. I am not advocating you take sides with Milosevic or any ethnicity. My point is to look at the role played by US/NATO of funneling hundreds of millions of dollars through the US CIA, the media and the US State Department. This money was used to- support racist minority extremists, push their privatization agenda of all the markets and resources of Yugoslavia, execute an eleven week bombing campaign (including ten tons of depleted uranium), assassinating strong opposition leaders and fanning the flames of past ethnic divisions all in the name of Humanitarianism.
I know from firsthand experience of campaigning to stop human rights abuses that no video goes viral with hundreds of millions of people viewing it, getting on every new cast and radio program under the sun without support from the prevailing power structure. My own personal video about being roughed up and arrested at a rally in downtown Buffalo called “Stop all wars of US aggression at home and abroad,” was restricted on youtube after receiving close to 125,000 views. This video included the footage of US war crimes committed in Iraq, leaked by US help Political Prisoner Bradley Manning. Throughout the coverage of my incident, no major networks wanted to talk about US war crimes, or Israeli genocide, or the continued genocide in Iraq, or the plight of the first nations in America. It is no coincidence when there are human rights abuses, torture and wars in countless places across the world including here at home that this Koney campaign receiving a exorbitant amount of new coverage something is different. Koney 2012 campaign is a not a grass roots campaign, but actually an “astro-turf” campaign. I even heard Schredd and Ragan talking about this on 103.3 the edge here in buffalo. All the radio, tv, magazines and newspapers are mostly owned and controlled by about 5 large conglomerate companies. These five major networks Disney, General Electric(GE), Viacom, News Corp(Rupert Murdoch), and Time Warner have major funding from all the usual players wealthy and powerful. Invisible Children has a budget of close to 9 million annually, and the film makers each make over 75,000 dollars a year. All of this doesn’t mean they are on the CIA pay roll, but either way their actions still serve the same purpose- to expand US military and global domination.
The US has been using Humanitarianism for unjust invasion for hundreds of Years. In 1897, President McKinley appointed Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The US was beginning to embark on a road of colonization and empire starting with the “humanitarian” intervention in Cuba and war with Spain. Though Cuba was the exalted humanitarian reason for the intervention the US attacked Spain in the Philippines first. Roosevelt had enthusiastic support for intervention–he once said, “I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one” The US has fabricated, manipulated and created evidence to start wars time after time. The explosion of USS Maine to start the Spanish American war, blamed on the Spanish. The bombing of the Lusitania, which was secretly carrying weapons, and munitions to allies during WW2. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which the pentagon papers reveal was a complete farce. The US does not care about human rights. The US does not care about life. It cares only about profit, and power.
I am not saying one bit that I support senseless murder, rape or slavery. I am not saying one bit that I don’t want to see the liberation and freedom for all people on the planet free from slavery, rape, torture, violence, exploitation. That is why I oppose the US government, and solutions that are given and promoted by this film. I am making any argument to support Koney. These supposed solutions are anything but peaceful. The US military is the opposite of stopping the problem. If the US government cared about human rights why would have such horrible human rights abuses in all their prisons. Why would they support death squads, dictators, torture, drug trafficking in South America from the Contras in Nicaragua to Pinochet in Chile. Why would still be at war with indigenous people here in this land. Why would the US assassinate MLK, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Judi Bari, the MOVE family and many other people who took a stand for life? Why would they dump Agent Orange and DDT destroying the forests and farms in Vietnam? Why wouldn’t they start a humanitarian intervention against rape against women in our society and especially the US army itself which has an over 30% rape of all women personal? Why wouldn’t the US use some of its enormous war budget to help rebuild the countries it has devastated?
Why is Koney the number one most wanted criminal on the “international criminal court” list, when Western leaders are guilty of many more deaths and operate with complete impunity? Koney and his army have since left Uganda, over 6 years ago! There are conflicting reports to how many current members are in the LRA. Though Dan Gordon states, “according to the UN, the Ugandan military has whittled the LRA down to a mere 200 fighters.” Obama sent 100 US special op soldiers. That makes it a 1 to 2 ratio of US forces to the LRA, but they want more. The Senator Jim Inhofe, who is featured in the Invisible Children’s film showing his indignation against Koney, is most well-known for supporting big oil companies. He votes in favor of big oil close to 100 % of the time, and disputes global warming. All this makes rational sense when we find that he ranks close to the top of all politicians to accept some of the largest contributions from Oil and Coal companies. Inhofe also is known for saying the Abu Ghraib prisoners should feel grateful for their treatment at the hands of American torturers, “I have made it clear that we are spending far too much of our time and effort on the prisoner abuse issue and not enough time on the quality of our interrogations.” With Inhofe’s big oil connection it will come to no surprise that he was also one of the largest backers of the illegal war against Iraq. Inhofe in an almost identical double talk moment in reference to the need for war against Iraq he proclaims,” This is not a war on Iraq, it is a liberation of the Iraqi people who have been oppressed and tortured for decades.” Inhofe goes on to say “A lot of people do not think of Saddam Hussein as a terrorist, but if you measure the severity of terrorism by the number of people someone has tortured or murdered, certainly no one can hold a candle to Saddam Hussein.” How touching Inhofe cares for the Iraqi people so much he wants to “liberate” them. It is no coincidence that it was senator Inhofe who was featured in the Koney film. It just so happens that large oil deposits were found in northern Uganda. “Some analysts estimate that Uganda’s Albertine Graben may hold more than 6 billion barrels of oil,” This was quoted just last summer from presidential office from Uganda.
This new campaign goes off the notion “if the politicians only knew of the suffering and human rights abuse they would act”. Are we to believe the US ruling class not consciously but just haphazardly put together the largest most sophisticated military and world empire ever know to this earth by chance, or just pure happen stance!?!?
This is an excerpt aired on public TV across the nation on 60 Minutes (5/12/96). Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
That statistic is just children; it does not include the adults. Including adults would make this death toll climb to over the million mark. But according to the US Secretary of State the price is worth it. In clearly knowing the suffering of the Iraqi people what did the US do? It turned around and yet punished the average people of Iraq to yet another violent war. A war of aggression that killed over a million civilians, destroyed infrastructure, drove people off the land, filled the cities and country side with depleted uranium and successfully nearly devastated one of the strongest people and longest lasting societies in the world. This was all done for the false pretext to rid Iraq of weapons it never had and to rid Iraq from the horrible dictator who the US put in power in the first place! They had a democracy before Sadam Hussein was put into power through the CIA. Was there any war crime for the destruction of a functional democracy? Was there any war crime for the destruction of an entire country, or the murder of millions men, women and children over the course of two and half decades of exploitation? No, none what so ever- just profit, massive amounts of profit for the perpetrators of this crime.
The US’s foundation is based on stolen land and genocide of first nation people here in what is referred to now as North America. A good book to read is “A Little Matter of Genocide” by Ward Churchill. Has there been any prosecution on these horrendous war crimes? No. All these crimes people got rich off of. Have there ever been any apologies? Of course there hasn’t. What would an apology do anyway?
“If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” Noam Chomsky
I researched the supposed International Criminal Court, featured in the Koney film, and it’s top 25 world criminals. All were black and from the third world. WOW, just like the blind justice here in America, where the majority of the crime is committed by poor blacks!?!?!?! What absolute garbage. Britain, France, US, NATO, with all their militaries combined and crimes against humanity just don’t seem to make it on the list. Henry Kissenger, Mcnamara, Bush senior, Tony Blair, Madeline Albright, Oliver North The Royal Family, Bush junior, Both Clintons, Dick Cheney and Obama just don’t make the cut. Their war crimes made too much money. Again, just like in America, people of color and the poor are the scapegoat while the wealthy whites in power profit off crime. The US prison industrial complex itself is a racist crime.
This Koney film would lead you to believe that it takes good intentioned white America to save Africa. “The White man’s burden.” It is just the opposite. Uganda was stripped of its resources and sovereignty when it was colonized by Britain in the 1800’s and has only had independence from being a colony for less than 75 years. Britain should be held responsible for deliberately creating a divided north and south of Uganda in order to rule. Also for the past almost 30 years Museveni has ruled Uganda with heavy funding from the US. From 1986 to 1996 Museveni was an unelected dictator, since then has been elected and has changed the constitution to allow his dictatorship to continue from 1996 to present. Museveni and his US backed and aided government has anything but a clean record for human rights. The west underdeveloped Africa deliberately, destabilizing the continent and fomenting ethnic hatred. Africa is rich in resources; it’s only the people who are poor. The continent’s people are poor because of imperialism and western colonialism.
Why isn’t there a campaign to arrest the CEO’s of these following corporations for their human rights abuses in Africa?
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend — unless she lives in the Ivory Coast. “Blood” or “conflict” diamonds are the name given to minerals purchased from insurgencies in war-torn countries. Prior to 2000 when the U.N. finally took a stand against the practice, DeBeers was knowingly funding violent guerrilla movements in Angola, Sierra Nevada, and the Congo with its diamond purchases. In Botswana, DeBeers has been blamed for the “clearing” of land to be mined for diamonds — including the forcible removal of indigenous peoples who had lived there for thousands of years. The government allegedly cut off the tribe’s water supplies, threatened, tortured and even hanged resisters.
Several big oil companies make this list, but Chevron deserves a special place in Hell. Between 1972 to 1993, Chevron (then Texaco) discharged 18 billion gallons of toxic water into the rain forests of Ecuador without any remediation, destroying the livelihoods of local farmers and sickening indigenous populations. Chevron was responsible for the death of several Nigerians who protested the company’s polluting, exploiting presence in the Nigerian Delta. Chevron paid the local militia, known for its human rights abuses, to squash the protests, and even supplied them with choppers and boats. The military opened fire on the protesters, then burned their villages to the ground.
None of these crimes were dealt with, actually the opposite they were rewarded with more power and wealth for the already wealthy and powerful.
There is one more aspect of this scenario that deserves mentioning. Many people don’t like this Koney campaign- not because it supports US imperialism, or because it is going after a minor threat comparatively, or because it has a different idea on how support Africa; the reason many Americans don’t like this campaign is because they don’t believe in helping other countries. The argument is that the US has so many problems here. I have a solution to this problem, the problem of poverty and low public services here in America. Tax the rich, the banks and the corporations, cut the war budget, cut prison budget, prioritize life and humanity and give the decision making power to the people and there will plenty of resources to serve all our human needs and problems.
Let’s arrest all the US war criminals, stop all the us wars at home and abroad, not beg them to invade Africa under the guise of human rights, give me a break. The idea of the US government actually caring about the human rights of Africans is a joke. Rid Africa of all exploitive foreign corporations, stop stealing their resources, get all US troops out of Africa, stop NATO and US from Bombing the country with the highest standard of living, assassinating African leaders and promoting their dictators. Let Europe, the US, the World Bank and the IMF forgive all debt to Africa, pay back all the resources and people stolen from it and let the people of Africa decide how to govern themselves and deal with their problems themselves collectively and if asked for support lend a hand on their terms.
Here many voices from People in Africa on their thoughts of the Koney film and invisible children.
• by Rosebell Kagumire, a Ugandan multimedia journalist who works on “media, women, peace and conflict issues.” She writes, “This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors.”
• Ethiopian writer and activist Solome Lemma writes that she is disturbed by the “dis-empowering and reductive narrative” evidenced in Invisible Children’s promotional videos: “[It] paints the people as victims, lacking agency, voice, will, or power. It calls upon an external cadre of American students to liberate them by removing the bad guy who is causing their suffering. Well, this is a misrepresentation of the reality on the ground. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples of child and youth advocates who have been fighting to address the very issues at the heart of IC’s work.”
• Musa Okwonga, a ” football writer, poet and musician of Ugandan descent,” writes in an Independent op-ed: “I understand the anger and resentment at Invisible Children’s approach, which with its paternalism has unpleasant echoes of colonialism. I will admit to being perturbed by its apparent top-down prescriptiveness, when so much diligent work is already being done at Northern Uganda’s grassroots… Watching the video, though, I was concerned at the simplicity of the approach that Invisible Children seemed to have taken.”
• Award-winning Nigerian-American novelist and photographer Teju Cole published an inspired set of tweets today on sentimentality toward Africa by Americans. Ethan Zuckerman gathered them here, and Alexis Madrigal did the same here. “From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex,” Cole writes. “The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.” He is brilliant and you should be following him on Twitter, anyway.
• Angelo Opi-aiya Izama, a journalist and researcher based in Kampala, Uganda, writes: “The simplicity of the ‘good versus evil,’ where good is inevitably white/western and bad is black or African, is also reminiscent of some of the worst excesses of the colonial era interventions. These campaigns don’t just lack scholarship or nuance. They are not bothered to seek it.”
• Benin-born “Author and Africa Enthusiast” Mafoya Dossoumon focuses less on the shortcomings of “Invisible Children,” and more on the power elite within Africa. “I urge you my African brothers and sisters, and friends of Africa to direct more energy towards holding our leaders accountable. Our leaders have failed us! ”
• TMS Ruge, the Ugandan-born co-founder of Project Diaspora is pissed. He says he wants to “bang my head against my desk” to “make the dumb-assery stop.” writes, “It is a slap in the face to so many of us who want to rise from the ashes of our tumultuous past and the noose of benevolent, paternalistic, aid-driven development memes. We, Africans, are sandwiched between our historically factual imperfections and well-intentioned, road-to-hell-building-do-gooders. It is a suffocating state of existence. To be properly heard, we must ride the coattails of self-righteous idiocy train. Even then, we have to fight for our voices to be respected.”
• Semhar Araia, founder of the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN), is based in Minneapolis and is of Eritrean descent. DAWN “develops and supports talented women and girls of the African diaspora,” and is focused on African affairs. In an opinion piece at the Christian Science Monitor titled “Learn to Respect Africans,” Araia writes of Invisible Children: “They must be willing to use their media to amplify African voices, not simply their own. This isn’t about them.”
• At National Geographic, a guest essay by Anywar Ricky Richard, a former child soldier of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and director of the northern Ugandan organization Friends of Orphans. Richard writes of perceptions of Invisible Children in northern Uganda, where the group has had a presence for some years, “They are not known as a peace building organization and I do not think they have experience with peace building and conflict resolution methods. I totally disagree with their approach of military action as a means to end this conflict.”
• Dayo Olopade, a Nigerian-American journalist who is writing a book on the connection between disruptive technology and African development, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times: “The mundane march of progress in poor countries is what ‘awareness’ campaigns often miss. And when, as in this case, success is determined by action from outside the region, cries of a new imperialism should be taken seriously. Few international NGOs working in Africa define success properly — as putting themselves out of business. Invisible Children seems no better.”