Interesting Debate Question
So we’re down to two final Presidential debates. They will have heavy influence on the November election. If you take a look at where the polls are now, the race would have to be called a toss-up. Remember, one wrong move in a debate can shift an election and both candidates know this well. They are likely working harder to develop tactics to trip their opponent up than they are on getting their own facts straight.
The two sides will now be hit with questions on foreign policy during the remaining jousting sessions. We will hear about Libya, Iran, Israel and maybe even North Korea. While those nations are important, there is another foreign policy issue that is on our radar and it is largely ignored. It could end up being the most interesting question of the debates too. We might well hear one of the moderators or town hall participants ask, what does the United States plan to do about the regime lead by Joseph Kony in Uganda and other parts of Africa? Perhaps more importantly, how will it take action against him without receiving the infamous “World’s Police Officer” tag? Will we just ignore this problem?
In recent years, Joseph Kony has become a near-household name. This is due, in part, to a viral marketing campaign for the 30-minute documentary about him named “Kony 2012.” He was also a focal point of the 2011 film “Machine Gun Preacher.” On top of this new found publicity, he has been granting more interviews to members of the media. I must add that law enforcement and members of the military will tell you that they love when a wanted man starts doing more media interviews. The more he gets drunk with the fame and falls in love with the camera, the sloppier he becomes. This makes it easy for him to be captured.
Though Kony often claims he has never done anything to hurt his brothers, the evidence points to his movement being responsible for horrifying human rights abuses. There are reports of the Kony-lead Lord’s Resistance Army taking part in mass murders, abductions and child-sex slavery. They are known for cutting off their victims lips, mutilating or even reportedly crucifying them.
Kony claims he is just a freedom fighter and a Christian spokesperson for God. This has lead some in our country to actually side with him. In fact, one of radio host Rush Limbaugh’s most controversial moments came when he sided against President Barack Obama’s plan to attack Kony’s group. Many saw it as an outrage that Limbaugh would even remotely show support for this apparently vicious man.
Kony is listed by our government as a wanted terrorist. So, why are we not taking military action against him the way we did in Iraq?
The answer you would likely hear from foreign policy experts is that places such as Uganda or its surrounding countries don’t present imminent danger to the United States. Others will tell you that there is no real political or economic gain that our leaders would have from invading Uganda.
There have been other horrifying activities in Uganda in the past. Decades ago, the regime of Idi Amin was responsible for murdering thousands of Ugandans. Amin often aired the live executions on television in his country. Amin was eventually taken out of power and sent to live the rest of his life in a Saudi Royal palace. America never intervened. Sadly, experts will say it was because there simply weren’t political or economic reasons to intervene.
In the mid-1990s, a tribal war in Rwanda lead to the execution of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Our nation danced around an intervention of any type. Later, this tragedy was the focus of the film “Hotel Rwanda.” The film showed United Nations troops who were unable to truly fight the overwhelming massacre. A UN soldier, played by Nick Nolte, lamented the fact that a larger military intervention would never take place. He said it’s because no one cared about a place like Rwanda.
One American attempt to fight in an African nation occurred nearly 20 years ago. It was our highly embarrassing mission to Somalia. This Bill Clinton run fiasco went wrong and American casualties were the end result. If you are unfamiliar with this one, see the movie “Black Hawk Down.”
So, the question for Obama or Romney would be, “Is it really up to our government to risk the lives of our young people in an effort to fight in the bushes of a different continent?”
Or even, “If we were to send troops to this part of the world and fight Kony and his army, would we then open up new criticisms that we try to be the global police officer? Shouldn’t we just mind our own business?”
These would be very difficult questions for our President and his challenger to answer. It will not likely come up at either of the remaining debates. But, we never know what can happen. It would be interesting to see how Obama or Romney handles the answer. Would they be baffled? Would they stammer and stumble in search of the right way to get off the hook?
This is just one more reason to keep watching the debates or other public appearances of the candidates. We need to know as much about them as we can before we head to the voting booth.