Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


But There's No Oil You Say?
November 10, 2003 10:56 AM   Subscribe

But There's No Oil You Say? The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said. It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, says UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland. The rebels routinely abduct children to serve as sex slaves and fighters. Thousands of children leave their houses in northern Uganda to sleep rough in the major towns, where they feel more safe from the threat of abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The United Nations [should] play a great role in scaling down the violence The LRA, under shadowy leader Joseph Kony, says it wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments. They often mutilate their victims, by cutting off their lips, noses or ears.
posted by turbanhead (15 comments total)

 
The condition and prospects of great hunks of Africa leave me speechless. Is there any reason not to add "and hopeless," except that one isn't supposed to give up hope?
posted by jfuller at 12:23 PM on November 10, 2003


No oil AND no Crusade. They're preaching the Bible after all.
posted by badstone at 12:53 PM on November 10, 2003


I wonder how the LRA interprets the 10 commandments.
posted by Beansidhe at 12:55 PM on November 10, 2003


Why, since they aren't busy in Iraq, are the UN troops NOT in Uganda taking care of this already?
posted by UncleFes at 1:00 PM on November 10, 2003


Why, since they aren't busy in Iraq, are the UN troops NOT in Uganda taking care of this already?

Because in general, if the US isn't supplying the UN troops, the UN seems to barely have them. Most joint UN operations always seem to involve far more US troops than other countries, at least that's the impression I've always gotten. And do we really need to add another hopeless no-win situation?
posted by piper28 at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2003


Hmm. A little googling reveals tha the UN apparently has no standing military forces. Didn't know that. I can only assume that they request troops from participating countries as needed. Assuming the US military forces and most of Britain's are considered out of pocket, can they not request forces from other large, military countries (Canada, Australia, Germany and France come to mind, all have significant military forces)?

as an aside, seems like the UN would be wise to solicit a small, mobile, well-trained force, independant of the rest of the world's armies. Putting Executive Outcomes and the French Foreign Legion on retainer to start, maybe? So they have something to fill the time gap while they request more traditional forces from the member countries?
posted by UncleFes at 2:31 PM on November 10, 2003


Whups, EO is apparently definct. MPRI and Sandline, then.
posted by UncleFes at 2:37 PM on November 10, 2003


as an aside, seems like the UN would be wise to solicit a small, mobile, well-trained force, independant of the rest of the world's armies. Putting Executive Outcomes and the French Foreign Legion on retainer to start, maybe? So they have something to fill the time gap while they request more traditional forces from the member countries?

Who in the world would want to join the UN's army? No snark intended, it just seems pointless.
posted by thirteen at 2:52 PM on November 10, 2003


Uganda, a former UK colony with English as the primary language and common rule of law is the size of Oregon, population of 25 million, median age is 14 years old. Life expectancy at birth 44. Fertility rate average of 6.72 children born/woman, %5 of population has AIDS, %82 of economy is argiculture, Government revenues are less than $1 billion.
posted by stbalbach at 5:19 PM on November 10, 2003


wants to rule Uganda according to the Biblical Ten Commandments

Sounds like Bush's kinda guy! But of course, never would such a thing be allowed in America, though.

Oh, wait.

it just seems pointless.

Yes, precisely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:48 PM on November 10, 2003


I'd like it if Canada would send some troops and take care of this one. Don't know if we have the military power at present, but given Uganda's poverty and small population that's mostly children anyway we might be able to do the job.
posted by orange swan at 6:37 PM on November 10, 2003


So are people suggesting that the UN has a moral obligation to go to war to remove a tyrant with a history of brutality? Or is there a new way to invade a territory, destroy an army, and establish control on the ground that isn't called "war"?

In places like Uganda, there are only two choices: let the slaughter continue, or go to war. The UN can requisition peacekeeping forces from countries, but those forces can only go in once a more aggressive military force has won control of the situation on the ground. Countries that have escaped globalization do not respond to outside pressure.

The choices were the same in Bosnia, the Congo (where 2-3 million people have been killed while everyone has been ranting about how evil George Bush or Bill Clinton is), and even Iraq.
posted by fuzz at 8:03 PM on November 10, 2003


JEEZ, fuzz...

We all know that it's sometimes necessary to go to war to overthrow a horrible government or movement. War's a necessary evil - always has been, always will be. And no one's arguing that there isn't a humanitarian case for the war on Iraq. The issue got muddied by GWB's representation of Iraq as a threat to world security, and many people suspect/believe that the real issue was oil. GWB acted without a consensus among the international community. Also GWB's administration failed to plan properly for the stabilization of a post-Saddam Iraq. I could go on, but I won't, because you know all this as well as I do, if not better.

It's no contradiction for us to say that GWB's case for war on Iraq was extremely problematic - though not without some positive results - while simultaneously arguing for a war on Uganda's LRA. Although I would support Canada's sending some troops to this, I would NOT support our PM's bankrupting our country to do so, or acting in advance of a proper strategy, or defying the UN to do so.

It's not just what ends one achieves, but also the means to said end that matter.
posted by orange swan at 8:55 PM on November 10, 2003


Yeah, I guess I was trolling, but I find the anti-war movement just as hypocritical as Bush when it comes to human suffering.

I agree with most of what you say, orange swan. But that's a view that I almost never hear on MeFi. Unfortunately, the idea that sometimes, under certain circumstances, preemptive wars against tyranny are justifiable, seems to me to have been definitively abandoned by the left.

We actively chose to let millions die in Africa in order to avoid getting involved in a military quagmire, and that was not just Bush and Clinton's choice, but also the choice of Europe and the anti-war left. Saying that the ends (stopping a genocide) would not justify the means (going to war), unless the UN agrees, is not an obvious moral proposition. In most cases, the wars that put an end to slaughter are launched without UN approval.

Would you still support Canada going to war in Uganda if it meant civilian casualties? How many? How do we balance the horrors of war against the horrors of letting people continue to suffer under tyranny? In the case of Iraq, these have become forbidden questions on MeFi.
posted by fuzz at 6:52 AM on November 11, 2003


I know that if Canada or any UN-sanctioned force goes to war in Uganda it will definitely mean civilian and army dead and wounded.

It sounds so cavalier and horrible to say it should be a numbers game when people are going to suffer terribly, but I almost think it should be - if an undeterred LRA means 500,000 people are every year for a decade and the war means 500,000 die the year of the war but after that things start getting progressively better, then it will be for the best long term. But we must be sure that these numbers are representative of reality. Can we be sure that the LRA won't fall apart on its own in the next few years? Can we be sure we won't do more destruction than we think? Can we be sure we're prepared for the aftermath?

War means so much suffering for individuals and we need to anticipate that and be prepared to take all possible measures to keep it to a minimum. We need to send food and medical supplies with the soldiers. We need to know what we're going to do once the bombs have been dropped. We need to minimize the stupid mistakes that will be made. But we also need to consider long-term effects, and think about designing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

I do prefer to avoid war if it's possible. I think Hitler could have been stopped by other measures if the world had only been prepared to intervene earlier - but it was left until too late. Likewise, Saddam would not have become as powerful as he was if the U.S. had not supported him in the first place - the same can be said of the Taliban. We need less of powerful countries supporting tyrants because it happens to suit their short-term interests.

Forbidden questions? I don't know. There are many aspects of the Iraq war to discuss, and questions about the concerns you raise really don't belong in some of these discussions. But to my knowledge no one has argued that it was wrong to depose Saddam - again, it's the means and the hidden agendas that cause such a furor.
posted by orange swan at 8:54 AM on November 11, 2003


« Older Roadies. They've got their own lingo, rules, and ...  |  This page... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments