October 17, 2011
It’s not a well-known fact, but the world’s most dangerous terrorists – if you’re going to go by body count, which is an appropriate measure in this line of business – aren’t Muslims. The Lord’s Resistance Army, the supposedly Christian militia which rapes, murders, maims and burns its way through vast swathes of central and eastern Africa, are responsible for upwards of 30,000 deaths in the last 10 years, as well as countless rapes, kidnappings and enslavements. Led by the ethereal Joseph Kony, a cult-like figure who inspires devotion from his followers, the LRA’s popular support is almost non-existent and its political goals vague. But violence, fear and drugs provide a plentiful supply of child soldiers and sex slaves, and for decades the various governments with which the LRA crosses swords have been powerless to stop them. Chiefly among these has been Uganda, but the government of Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and now South Sudan have proved equally wimpish.
This is all about to change. In a surprise announcement, President Barack Obama declared the US would be sending combat-ready troops to aid in the hunt for and the eventual fight against Joseph Kony and his roving band of merciless men. Some troops have already arrived in Uganda, where their presence has been welcomed, and more will be sent to the other affected countries. In a letter to Congress, Obama outlined his decision: “I have authorized a small number [about 100] of combat-equipped US forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield,” Obama said. “The support provided by US forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the US forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”