Sunday, October 16, 2011

Oh No, Here We Go Again!

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Luis Martinez report:
Two days ago President Obama authorized the deployment to Uganda of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” – meaning capture or kill – Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA.
The forces will deploy beginning with a small group and grow over the next  month to 100. They will ultimately go to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the permission of those countries.
I have to admit when I first saw this report I went Uh-Oh. As my profile clearly states:  "A reader of far too many history books than is good for normal functioning."

Anytime I see a deployment to a "small amount of troops" to some foreign place I get very antsy. But this deployment has me deeply conflicted. I can not think of a more evil bunch of dirty rotten SOBs than the LRA. Even if your only concerns a geo-strategic , the LRA is nothing but bad news. They have been destabilizing the area around Uganda, the DRC, and Rwanda for a generation.

But then the still small voice in my head asks, "why now?" The LRA has been running amuck for over twenty years, ever since Bill Clinton was in office, and we have seen fit to ignore the wanton rapine and destruction visited on Central Africa by them. Why the sudden rush into where angles dare not to tread?

Do I need to bring up our utter indifference to the slaughter in other parts of Africa to make the point? Darfur continues to bleed buckets of blood, Somalia continues to be hell on earth, Rwanda is still very unstable, and the DRC is an utter basket case of hunger, desperation, corruption,murder, and mayhem; and that is on a good day. Again, why Uganda, and why now, when other fires in Africa burn longer, harder and brighter?

Even from a utterly cynical NeoCon, lets take over the world, mindset this move makes no sense. If you want to get at the natural resources of the DRC, why this particular back door? It has no open communications to our vital sea lanes, the closest port of call is in Mombasa, Kenya. I hate to be logistician that had to keep that supply line running. It is almost 15 hours to get from Kenyan coast to the Ugandan capitol, Kampala. Once there you still need to get where the action is, deep in the bush. It is a logistical nightmare, a very long tail easily cut by local guerrillas. The LRA has been able to blight its area of operation because infrastructure there is non-existant. If you thought our efforts at whack-a-mole in Afghanistan are frustrating, think of how much more so it will be deep in the Central African bush. 

Then the next question pops in my head; exactly what do we think 100 advisors are going to do in this little slice of hell? The Ugandan army has not improved much from the days of Idi Amin Dada. It is still the corrupt, murderous, poorly trained, poorly motivated collection of misfits it has always been. It is a force of about forty thousand total. In army that size you don't talk about combat effectives, only combat ineffectives. One hundred Special Forces advisors are going to whip this lot into some sort of shape? Good luck on that.

To do any kind of good in Uganda you would have to deploy a MEU or the Army Equivalent, or a mix with AIr Force and Army units pugging the hole for the lack of the Marines' water-born support. (Remember, Uganda is landlocked, thus no sea support for the Marines.) But then there is the political problem of having 2,000 heavily armed jarheads dashing hither and thither in African bush for no discernable reason. Add to that the logistical strain supporting those 2,000 men and women, and well then, you have a real open number ten can of worms, don't you? 

So I am back to my original question when I first read about this: "what the hell?" This operation makes no sense. The resource being brought to bear are utterly inadequate to the supposed mission. Is this a camels nose under the tent, or is Obama just a clueless idiot and cannot see where this will inevitably lead? Is this some sop to some very noisy pressure group deep in bowels of the black community, a small bone to shut them up? What is the game plan here Barry? The stated mission is utterly unbelievable, one hundred Special Forces operators are not going to accomplish squat against the LRA, I can tell you that much. 

I would dearly love to see the LRA, or at least its vile leaders, become a very small grease spot in the jungles of Africa. I would love to see the long suffering people of the lake regions of Africa be able to live in peace and stability. The people of the DRC especially deserve some sort of break, their lives have been ones of tragedy and desperation ever since Leopold II of Belgium set up his shop of horrors that Joseph Conrad outlined in "Heart Of Darkness."

There are real humanitarian concerns here and the LRA does not even have the thin patina of respectability that a North Korea gains by being a Nation-State (ditto China.) Plus the LRA does not have a real standing army nor nuclear weapons as do North Korea or China. But does the fact we have the ability to put a hurting on the LRA, and they can't do much in return, give us a green light? Does that give us permission to go mucking about the lake region of Central Africa? I have to come down on the negative side. I do this not because of some knee-jerk, mushy-headed, peace, love, and granola liberal default. I just don't believe that Team Obama has the competence to pull this off.  We already had one bungle in jungle in Vietnam, why, on God's good earth would Team Obama want to try their luck in another pointless neo-colonial misadventure in some trackless jungle is beyond me. This and epically foolish move. To quote the cartoon mouse Brain of Pinky and the Brain "No good will come of this."

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