Nairobi sent troops into Somalia last month ostensibly to root out Islamist militants. But the real reason Kenya went to war has more to do with the restless ambitions of its own military, which is eager to abandon the country's largely peaceful history.
The success of the "KONY 2012" video shows the vast reserves of idealism and concern out there. Here is how to turn that concern into useful action.
With more than 70 million views, KONY 2012 has achieved its aim of reaching a mass audience. But the film is a quintessentially American fable printed on an African canvas, one that will turn out to be a brief diversion, just a bit of Internet chatter.
It has been over a year since U.S. military advisers arrived in Central Africa to look for the Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, and he is still nowhere to be found. But it's too soon to give up. If U.S. and African forces refine their efforts to get locals to share intelligence, they could well bring Kony and his henchmen to justice.
As a United Nations staffer said recently, while attending an internal briefing on the Lord's Resistance Army, the violent central African rebel group, earlier this fall, "November is LRA month." Indeed, the LRA and its notorious leader, Joseph Kony, are suddenly everywhere: several non-governmental organizations have held advocacy briefings about it at the United Nations, and the Security Council met on November 14 to discuss them. Meanwhile, journalists in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere are suddenly seized with the mission of finding out what is really happening on the ground in central Africa.
Two events underlie the renewed interest. First, in October, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he would be sending "combat-equipped troops" on a kill-or-capture mission to take out Kony. Second, on November 2, Hollywood released Machine Gun Preacher, a movie billed as the true story of an American missionary's Rambo-esque crusade against the LRA. Curiosity about the events depicted in the film will soon subside, if early reviews are anything to go by, but Obama's decision, which he pitched to the American public as a dramatic new development, is another matter...