Archives

Tagged ‘Yoweri Museveni‘

Uganda: A Brilliant Genocide

Counterpunch

by Ann Garrison

abg-poster-september-fest-deets

One hundred million people around the world watched the viral video “Kony 2012.” Its evangelical Christian producers’ mission was to proselytize for the use of U.S. Special Forces to help Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hunt down warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  Despite huge support from the U.S. political establishment and various celebrities, the producers were finally guffawed off the world stage after the video’s release. One of the best parodies was the Artist Taxi Driver’s “You say get Kony I say get Tony #kony2012 #tonyblair2012.”

Nevertheless, more U.S. troops went to Uganda in 2012, reportedly as advisors to the Ugandan army, a longstanding U.S. proxy force. More have gone since, and U.S. and Ugandan troops have set up outposts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all in the name of fighting the infamous Kony, whom “Kony 2012” likened to Osama bin Laden. Despite all that, Kony’s still free – if he’s still alive. The idea that a modern army, with the most advanced weaponry, intelligence, and surveillance tech, has not been able to find him and his spent force of jungle fighters is preposterous. As Dr. Vincent Magombe said in Ebony Butler’s new documentary film, “A Brilliant Genocide”:  “America is part of the problem of Africa right now. The Americans know very well that Kony is not the problem. Where the oil wells are, the American troops are there and the government in power. It doesn’t matter whether that government is Museveni killing his own people. It’s not democratic, but he is a friend.”

A Brilliant Genocide” tells the story of the Acholi Genocide that President Yoweri Museveni and his army committed against the Acholi people during their 20 year war and occupation of the Acholi homeland in northern Uganda, from 1986 to 2006.  Museveni waged that war in the name of fighting Kony and claimed to be protecting the Acholi, not destroying them. The U.S. turned a blind eye and continued to build up its Ugandan proxy force. “Despite this appalling and shocking human rights abuse,” Ugandan American publisher Milton Allimadi says in the film, “the Ugandan military machine continued to be financed without any interruption from the United States.”

Museveni’s troops eventually drove nearly two million Acholi people, 90% of the population, into concentration camps to, he said, protect them from Kony and the LRA. The camp living quarters were traditional mud huts with thatched roofs, but they were tightly clustered together in a way that was not traditional at all. The Museveni government then failed to provide food, water, sanitation, or health care. In 2005, the World Health Organization reported that 1000 Acholi were dying every week of violence and disease – above all malaria and AIDS. That was, they reported, 1000 beyond normal mortality rates.

This huge and lengthy displacement caused more death and destruction than the war itself. All the elements of Acholi society – farming, education, gender relations, and family life – were broken. In the camps, the previously self-sufficient Acholi became completely dependent on the UN World Food Program.

Ugandan soldiers raped both men and women, spreading HIV in the camps, but President George Bush lauded President Yoweri Museveni for his success at HIV prevention.  Anyone who has been concerned by all the Western press about Uganda’s homophobia and its Anti-Homosexuality Act should see both “A Brilliant Genocide” and “Gender Against Men” to understand how much more complex the country’s attitudes towards same gender sexual relations – including rape – really are.

The camps were finally disbanded in 2012 and the surviving Acholi returned to their land, but now they are facing land grabs, including those by Museveni and his partner in mechanized agriculture.

What did the U.S. gain by ignoring the Acholi Genocide as it built the Ugandan army into a proxy force? 

In 1990, as the genocide continued in Northern Uganda, a battalion of the Ugandan army led by General Paul Kagame invaded Rwanda. After a four-year war and the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, Kagame’s army overthrew the Rwandan government and established a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, which falsely claims to have ended competition between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. The last 100 days of that war included the massacres that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide, which most of the world knows as the oversimplified, decontextualized story told in the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

This radically mis-told story of the Rwandan Genocide has since become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. We’re forever told that we have to start another war to stop genocide and mass atrocities or – in shorthand – to stop “the next Rwanda,” as in Libya, Syria, and more recently, Burundi, and whatever unlucky nation may be next. Few have heard of the Acholi Genocide because it exposes the shameless U.S. foreign policy of supporting and enabling dictator Yoweri Museveni ever since he came to power in 1986. We’re never told that we have to stop “the next Acholi Genocide” or “the next Uganda.”

Beginning in 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the hugely resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo, enabled by U.S. weapons, logistics and intelligence. They expelled Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and replaced him with Laurent Kabila. When Laurent Kabila raised an independent head and expelled Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo again and replaced him with his more compliant adopted son Joseph Kabila. Today, after the death of millions in the First and Second Congo Wars, Rwanda and Uganda continue to commit atrocities and plunder eastern Congolese resources. Right now 60 people a month are being massacred in Beni Territory, but the world isn’t much more likely to hear about that than about the Acholi Genocide.

Most Westerners are far more likely to have noticed the Western press – and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – shrieking that there’s another Tutsi genocide pending in Burundi, even though the violence in Burundi is nowhere near as horrific as that in Beni, and many of those assassinated in Burundi have been top officials in the Hutu-led government. The U.S. and its allies want to take down the government of Burundi, so they keep sounding alarms that it’s plotting genocide, that we have to stop another genocide or “the next Rwanda.” They’re not sounding the same alarms about Beni because the elimination of its population would facilitate their longstanding agenda of breaking up the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as they broke up Yugoslavia and South Sudan.

The U.S. has used Ugandan troops to serve its agenda not only in nations bordering Uganda but also in Somalia and elsewhere on the African continent, as coordinated by AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. It has even used Ugandan troops in its own assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan.

When anyone, including Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, says that we have to invade another sovereign nation to stop genocide and mass atrocities, they should be reminded of the horrendous Acholi Genocide that the U.S. enabled, or of the massacres going on in Beni Territory, Democratic Republic of the Congo, right now. These are only two examples of mass atrocities that the U.S. has committed or facilitated because they or their perpetrators, like Museveni, serve U.S. interests.

RT will air “A Brilliant Genocide” on October 1st.

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.]

Western Aggression: The Highest Form of Terrorism

Image: Mark Gould

Aggression is arguably the highest form of terrorism as it invariably includes the frightening of the target populations and their leaders as well as killing and destruction on a large scale.. The U.S. invaders of Iraq in 2003 proudly announced a “shock and awe” purpose in their opening assault, clearly designed to instill fear; that is, to terrorize the victim population along with the target security forces. And millions of Iraqis suffered in this massive enterprise. Benjamin Netanyahu himself defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.” This would seem to make both the Iraq war (2003 onward) and the serial Israeli wars on Gaza (2008-2009; 2012; 2014) cases of serious terrorism.

How do the responsible U.S. and Israeli leaders escape this designation? One trick is the disclaiming of any “deliberateness” in the killing of civilians. It is “collateral damage” in the pursuit of proper targets (Iraqi soldiers, Hamas, etc.). This is a factual lie, as there is overwhelming evidence that in both the Iraq and Gaza wars the killing of civilians was on a large scale and often not comprehensible in terms of genuine military objectives. (I give many illustrations in “They kill reporters, don’t they?” Yes–as Part of a System of Information Control That Will Allow the Mass Killing of Civilians, Z Magazine, December 2004. That this goes back a long way is well documented in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Metropolitan, 2014).

But even if the killings were only collateral damage, the regular failure to avoid killing civilians, including a built-in carelessness and/or reliance on undependable sources of information, is both a war crime and terrorism. Recall that the Geneva Conventions state that combatants “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and, accordingly, shall direct their operations only against military objectives” (Part IV, Chap. 1, Article 48). Also, if civilian casualties are extremely likely in bombing attacks against purported military targets, even if the specific civilians killed were not intended victims, their deaths—some deaths—were predictable, hence in an important sense deliberate. Michael Mandel, while dismantling the claim of non-deliberateness in the usual collateral damage killing of civilians, points out that even in Texas a man who shoots someone dead while aiming at somebody else is guilty of murder.1

A second line of defense of U.S. and Israeli killing of civilians, only occasionally made explicit, is that the civilians killed are helping out the enemy armed forces–they are the sea in which the terrorist fish swim—so this makes them legitimate targets. This opens up vast possibilities for ruthless attacks and the mass killing of civilians, notorious in the Vietnam war, but also applicable in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. Civilian killings are sometimes admitted to be an objective by official sources, but not often, and the subject is not focused on by the mainstream media. This rationale may placate the home population but it does not satisfy international law or widely held moral rules.

The same is true of the retaliation defense. The United States and Israel are always allegedly retaliating for prior aggressive acts of their targets. Deadly actions by the target military or their supporters, even if they clearly follow some deadly action by the United States or Israel, are never deemed retaliatory and thus justifiable. It has long been a claimed feature of the Israeli ethnic cleansing project that Israel only retaliates, the Palestinians provoke and virtually compel an Israeli response. In fact, the Israelis have long taken advantage of this bias in Western reporting at strategic moments by attacking just enough to induce a Palestinian response, that justifies a larger scale “retaliatory” action by Israel.

Of course, all of these tricks work only because an array of Western institutions, including but not confined to the media, follow the demands of Western (and mainly U.S.) interests. For example, although the Nuremberg judgment against the Nazis features aggression as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” because the United States is virtually in the full-time business of committing aggression (attacking across borders without Security Council approval), the UN and “international community” (i.e., Western and even many non-Western leaders, not publics) do nothing when the United States engages in aggression. The brazen 2003 invasion of Iraq called forth no UN condemnation or sanctions against the U.S.aggression, and the UN quickly began to cooperate with the invader-occupiers. The word aggression is rarely applied to that massive and hugely destructive attack either in the media or learned discourse, but it is applied with regularity to the Russian occupation of Crimea which entailed no casualties and could be regarded as a defensive response to the U.S.-sponsored February 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was surely not defensive, and was rationalized at the time on the basis of what were eventually acknowledged to be plain lies. (For an exception to the establishment’s villainization of Russia in the Ukraine conflict.2 )

Perhaps the most murderous aggression and ultra-terrorism of the last 40 years, involving millions of civilian deaths, has been the Rwanda-Uganda invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), beginning in 1996 and still ongoing. But the invasion’s leaders, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, were (and still are) U.S. clients, hence they have been subject to no international tribunal nor threat from the Security Council or International Criminal Court, and there has been no media featuring of the vast crimes carried out in this area. You have to be a U.S. target to get that kind of attention, as with Iran, Syria and Russia.

These rules also apply to the major human rights groups. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have a rule that they will not focus on the origins of a conflict but will attend only to how the conflict is carried out. This is wonderfully convenient to a country that commits aggression on a regular basis, but it flies in the face of logic or the UN Charter’s foundational idea that aggression is the supreme international crime that the world must prevent and punish. Thus, neither HRW nor AI condemned the United States for invading Iraq or bombing Serbia but confined their attention to the war crimes of both the aggressor and target — mainly the target. HRW is especially notorious for its huge bias in featuring the war crimes of U.S. targets, underplaying the criminality of the aggressor, and calling for international action against the victim (see Herman, Peterson and Szamuely, “Human Rights Watch in the Service of the War Party,” Electric Politics, February 26, 2007.). During the period leading up to the U.S.-UK attack on Iraq, HRW head Kenneth Roth had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Indict Saddam” (March 22, 2002). Thus beyond failing to oppose the imminent war of aggression, this human rights group leader was providing a public relations cover for the “supreme international crime.” His organization also failed to report on and condemn the “sanctions of mass destruction” against Iraq that had devastating health effects on Iraqi civilians, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths. For HRW these were “unworthy victims.”

In the case of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s invasion and massacres of 1990-1994, HRW and its associates (notably Alison Des Forges) played an important role in focusing on and condemning the defensive responses of the Rwanda government to the military and subversive advances of the U.S.-supported invading army of Tutsi from Uganda, thereby making a positive contribution to the mass killings in Rwanda and later in the DRC.3

Similarly the ad hoc international tribunals established in the last several decades have always been designed to exclude aggression and to focus on war crimes and “genocide.” And they are directed at U.S. targets (Serbia, the Hutu of Rwanda) who are actually the victims of aggression, who are then subjected to a quasi-judicial process that is fraudulent and a perversion of justice.4  The International Criminal Court (ICC) was also organized with “aggression” excluded from its remit, in deference to the demands of the Great Aggressor, who still refused to join because there remained the theoretical possibility that a U.S. citizen might be brought before the court! The ICC still made itself useful to the Great Aggressor by indicting Gaddafi in preparation for the U.S.-NATO war of aggression against Libya.

In short, terrorism thrives. That is, state terrorism, as in the serial U.S. wars—direct, joint and proxy–against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria and the still more wide-ranging drone assassination attacks. In the devastating wars in the DRC by Kagame and Museveni. And in Israel’s wars on Gaza and Lebanon and ordinary pacification efforts in Gaza and the West Bank. And in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and Turkey’s proxy war in Syria and war against the Kurds.

All of these wars have evoked mainly retail terrorist responses to the invading, bombing, and occupying forces of the United States and its allies, responses that have been shocking and deadly, but on a much smaller scale than the state terrorism that has evoked them. But in the Western propaganda systems it is only the responsive terrorism that surprises and angers politicians, pundits and the public and is called “terrorism.” There is no recognition of the true flow of initiating violence and response, no recognition of the fact that the “global war on terrorism” is really a “global war OF terrorism.” The propaganda system is, in fact, a constituent of the permanent war system, hence a reliable supporter of wholesale terrorism.

 

• First published in Z Magazine, February 2016

 

  1. How America Gets Away With Murder, Pluto, 2004, 46-56 [?]
  2. John Mearsheimer, “The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault,” Foreign Affairs, September-October, 2014 [?]
  3. Herman and Peterson, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later, Real News Books, 2014, 66-70. [?]
  4. On the Yugoslavia tribunal, see John Laughland, Travesty, Pluto, 2007; on Rwanda, Sebastien Chartrand and John Philpot, Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scale of International Criminal Justice, Baraka Books, 2014. [?]

 

[Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.]

%d bloggers like this: