Saturday, January 10, 2009

Madrid and Kony

Arrived in Madrid today; yesterday I was actually on the plane but ended up having to get off after being told that I would be taking a later plane but, with Madrid airport closed because of the snow, the later plane was also canceled, so I ended up going home yesterday afternoon. Today, everything went well. Madrid has a good public transport system and the trip from the airport to my, what has turned out to be, rather nice hotel was no problem. Moreover, the "rather nice hotel" is across from the Prado, so I managed to take myself in there this evening and have a little look at "Goyas" and "El Grecos" and, and, and ......... Tomorrow, I take the train south and it will give me the opportunity to get started on Sarah Chayes' book on Afghanistan, "The Punishment of Virtue". The last few pages of Matthew Green's book, based on Joseph Kony were read on the Madrid metro and, while Matthew nor myself would wish to exonerate Joseph Kony, we would both appear to agree that he is a bit player in a bigger drama. The nail is really hit on the head when Mr Green writes, "The roots of Kony's war stretched all the way back to the north-south divide crystalized under colonial rule, thn nourished by Uganda's cycles of post-independence bloodshed. But as long as the conflict was portrayed as the result of one man's seemingly inexplicable "evil", there was no need for poeple to look any deeper. And blaming one 'madman' played right into Museveni's hands.(1) Blaming Kony makes it easy for Museveni's powerful backers in London and Washington to not just turn a blind eye on Museveni's forcibly transfering the Acholi population into camps where they are left literally to rot, but also to tacitly give their agreement to this strategy.
Museveni was once described by Madeline Albright as, "a beacon of hope" for Africa, Kagame's praise is still sung on a daily basis by the hypocrites in Washington. Kony has, of course, been put beyond the pale but we all know that had the Americans been looking for his support, then we could very well have had, Kony the resistance fighter, a "moderate" African leader, a true democrat. After all, when someone is of use to "Uncle Sam" he won't let a little thing like murdering thousands of civilians hinder him establishing the required "friendship". Something, which is not, of course, limited to Africa.
1 Matthew Green, 'The Wizard of the Nile', London 2008, p 312


Peter Eichstaedt said...

I invite you to check out my new book on child soldiers in Africa, titled First Kill Your Family: Chilc Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army, which is available at Amazon. You can see it at and/or follow the issue on my blog,

James Nelson said...

thanks for the link,peter! bit busy at the moment but will order the book and try to read it as soon as possible.