Rush Limbaugh on Lord's Resistance Army: "Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians"

Photo: A former abductee of the Lord's Resistance Army

Yesterday, when President Obama announced that the United States would be sending 100 special operations forces to help Uganda battle the Lord's Resistance Army, a notorious and brutal death cult led by Joseph Kony, a joke went around on Twitter that Michele Bachmann would soon be attacking the president for "targeting Christians."

Of course, to call the LRA "Christians" is to abase the English language. As the Atlantic's Graeme Wood put it in a profile of Kony last year, "An American diplomat in Bangui compared the group to the Manson family, but given that the LRA has killed 12,000 people, the comparison is self-evidently unfair to Manson."

Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth wrote of the group last fall:

Its cadre often descends on a remote village, slaughters every adult in sight, and then kidnaps the children, some shockingly young -- the boys to become soldiers slinging AK-47s, the girls to serve as "bush wives." Over more than two decades, many thousands have fallen victim to these roving mass murderers. 

But Bachmann was too smart to fall into this trap, and instead it was Rush Limbaugh who jumped on the news to attack Obama. Behold:

Lord's Resistance Army are Christians.  They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. ... So that's a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and -- (interruption) no, I'm not kidding.  Jacob Tapper just reported it. ... 

Lord's Resistance Army objectives.  I have them here.  "To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people." Now, again Lord's Resistance Army is who Obama sent troops to help nations wipe out.  The objectives of the Lord's Resistance Army, what they're trying to accomplish with their military action in these countries is the following:  "To remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people; to fight for the immediate restoration of the competitive multiparty democracy in Uganda; to see an end to gross violation of human rights and dignity of Ugandans; to ensure the restoration of peace and security in Uganda, to ensure unity, sovereignty, and economic prosperity beneficial to all Ugandans, and to bring to an end the repressive policy of deliberate marginalization of groups of people who may not agree with the LRA ideology."  Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting, or who are being fought and we are joining in the effort to remove them from the battlefield. 

Then, after a break, he (sort of) realizes his mistake:

Is that right? The Lord's Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? Child kidnapping, torture, murder, that kind of stuff? Well, we just found out about this today. We're gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it. But nevertheless we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys -- and they claim to be Christians.

It takes your breath away, doesn't it?

(Thanks to @AdamSerwer for the link.)



100 U.S. troops deploying to take on LRA

The late breaking story this afternoon is that around 100 U.S. troops will be deploying to four countries in Central Africa to assist local military forces in tracking down Joseph Kony, leader of the infamous Lord's Resistance Army.  President Obama explained the decision in a letter to House Speak John Boehner:

For more than two decades, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.

In furtherance of the Congress's stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.

According to the letter, the first of the troops arrived in Uganda on Wednesday. It also specifies that "although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense."

The announcement is actually a bit less than meets the eye. As the Nation's Jeremy Scahill notes, there's been pretty close cooperation between the U.S. and Ugandan miltiaries -- particularly in Somalia -- for some time now. Obama signed the "Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act" back in 2010. And even before that, there were reports of the U.S. providing assistance to anti-LRA operations by the Ugandan military. 

It's interesting that Obama chose to inform Boehner "as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution". This seems like a far less significant military operation than this year's airstrikes in Libya, which the administration continued after 60 days despite never receiving Congressional authorization under that resolution. Does this mean that the White House will eventually have to ask for authorization for the mission, or does the LRA Disarmament Act preemptively cover that?

In any case, a coalition of human rights groups including the Enough Project and Invisible Children have already praised the move:

"The deployment of these advisers demonstrates that President Obama is on the right track, and that he's taking seriously the calls from hundreds of thousands of young Americans that want to see an end to the senseless LRA violence once and for all,"  said Ben Keesey, Executive Director of Invisible Children.

Also worth a read today is Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth's piece from our "Plan B for Obama" package last November, which argued that "would reaffirm that mass murder cannot be committed with impunity. And it would show that, despite the difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the humanitarian use of force remains a live option at the Obama White House."