The World Outside Westminster – Joseph Kony: World’s Most Wanted?

The focus of the world has been on a viral video, ‘Kony 2012’, which exposes the actions of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army in central Africa.

 

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As bombs continue to fall in Syria and the Republican Presidential nomination race continues to move along, much of the focus of the world has been on a viral video, ‘Kony 2012’, which aims to bring awareness to the actions of Joseph Kony, the brutal leader of the LRA (Lords Resistance Army) in central Africa.

With more than 72 million hits the near half-hour video encourages people from around the globe to lobby politicians and raise the profile of the Ugandan guerrilla leader, known for kidnapping and training child soldiers to serve in his army whilst using the girls as sex slaves.

Watch the Kony 2012 video:

Despite it undoubtedly being a noble cause, the campaign by US organisation ‘Invisible Children’ has come under attack for a variety of reasons. The non-profit group claims the LRA have no ideology despite their purported aim of establishing a state based on the ten commandments (thou shalt not kill?!) and have also come under pressure for their links with the less than saintly Ugandan army.

Amongst other criticisms, Invisible Children is accused of spending the majority of its budget on salaries, travel and film-making (demonstrated by the length, quality and emotional appeal of the ‘Kony 2012’ movie) in contrast to charities who focus more on aid.

Certainly criticisms in terms of overblown importance attached to the unquestionably evil Kony the individual are valid, as are the lack of moral questions around the at times terrible Ugandan army, however as a campaign and an organisation aimed primarily at raising awareness their influence must be seen in a predominantly positive light. They are doing what they aimed to do.

Syria

Keeping to the topic of brutal tyrants, pressure is mounting on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad as he continues to use military power to brutally murder innocent civilians.

As stories mount of men and young boys being taken out and massacred by government forces, the Syrian deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameddin has suddenly discovered a conscience and defected to the rebel forces.

Whilst acknowledging there would be repercussions for his home and family, Hussameddin stated:

“I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime.”

The Syrian regime has yet to comment on the defection but rebels are hoping it may open the floodgates for a number of senior officials to leave the regime and join the uprising.

France

Across the channel the French election is gaining steam as incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy has claimed he will not continue in politics if he fails to win in the upcoming vote.

Sarkozy is currently lagging behind chief opponent, Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, as he looks to court the far-right voters of National Front candidate Marine Le Pen and ensure his position in the second round run-off poll by raising eyebrows with anti-immigration comments about France having “too many foreigners”.

With Sarkozy and Hollande the only candidates with a real chance of winning in the run-off, it may be that Sarko’s Romney-esque move to the right could damage his chances amongst moderate voters.

USA

As politicians puff out their chests and court votes in France, the same is true of America. With Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting for talks with Barack Obama, Republican candidates are renewing their hard-line neo-conservative approach to dealing with Iran.

After a number of not particularly thought provoking or fact based rabble-rousing speeches at the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by GOP hopefuls, President Obama insisted America “has Israel’s back”, a commitment he re-affirmed after his meeting with Netanyahu, despite the likes of Newt Gingrich predictably slamming the President for his supposed lack of support for Israel.

Netanyahu also used the ‘if a duck looks like a duck’ analogy to describe Iran’s nuclear policy, referring to the theocratic state as a “nuclear duck”. The GOP will be hopeful that quacks begin to show between Netanyahu and Obama which they can use as a wedge issue in heavily Jewish American swing states like Florida.

US 2012

The Republican nomination process is slogging on despite the fact it is becoming clearer and clearer that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a degree of inevitably about his candidacy, despite being the weakest frontrunner in recent memory.

As the GOP super PACs carpet bomb the airwaves with negative attacks on each other, President Obama’s approval sits at 44% to 47% disapproval in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll.

Whilst those numbers are underwater a range of polls from other firms have seen Romney’s favourability amongst key swing voters collapse as he tacks to the right on social issues to head off the surging Rick Santorum. Despite winning big in the Super Tuesday primary night, Romney’s defeat to Newt Gingrich (albeit it in Gingrich’s home state of Georgia) and more importantly Santorum in a number of contests has made an overall win look more like an exposure of fragility.

Despite a close run victory in the key Ohio primary the lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy raises a question for Romney; money can buy him close victories, but can it buy him love?

Also this week:

Sign up to receive our weekly summary of news from around the world, The World Outside Westminster

Britain and the Chinese: From exploiter to supplicant?Yvonne Foley and Sonny Leong, Chinese for Labour

No Woman’s Land: On the frontlines with female reportersGeorge Readings

International Women’s Day: We can’t be complacent, there’s a lot still to doTasmia Akkas, Young Fabians

We mustn’t let piracy rule the development agenda on SomaliaLiz Stephen, Labour Campaign for International Development

Super Tuesday continues Republican death spiral towards November presidential electionsDaniel Elton

Lessons from North Korea: There is a safer way to engage IranKate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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