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Kelden Formosa

In Defence of Kony 2012

A week is long time when it comes to Facebook-driven awareness campaigns like Kony 2012. All across campus, walls chalked up with “Kony 2012” remain as a kind-of throwback to a short time ago before the apparent repudiation of that campaign online and in the news media. In the few weeks since the release of the video, its message, its style and the organization behind it have come under intense criticism. But while part of that criticism is right on the mark, much of it is mean-spirited, and some of it is downright dangerous.  In my mind, the really dangerous criticisms are the attacks on the concept of humanitarian intervention. Some background: humanitarian intervention means the use of force by one country to promote humanitarian goals in another, usually stopping mass-killings and upholding basic human rights. The chief policy goal of the Kony 2012 campaign is to maintain and increase foreign support for central African military forces working to dismantle the terrorist Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and arrest its leader, Joseph Kony. Providing this kind of support is an example of humanitarian intervention. More fulsome intervention could include conducting bombing campaigns against the aggressor or even sending in troops to take down a regime. Now, I am not recommending that we go ahead and invade Uganda. I’m no expert in central African geo-politics, and besides, the LRA are based in Sudan these days, making the idea of a military intervention in Uganda seem absurd. But critics of humanitarian intervention have used the example of Kony 2012 and the conflict in central Africa to claim all humanitarian interventions are similarly absurd, a claim I think goes too far. After the Kony 2012 episode, humanitarian intervention needs and deserves a defence. I believe it shouldn’t be ruled out as a policy option; in fact, I… Read More