Marie Harf: Don't Forget About Crazy Christian Groups, Like The One Led By Joseph Kony

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 20, 2015 4:15 PM
Marie Harf: Don't Forget About Crazy Christian Groups, Like The One Led By Joseph Kony

Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf caught flak for her remarks about ISIS, where she said that we couldn't kill our way to victory– and that we needed to offer economic opportunities to stifle extremism; she later said her remarks were "too nuanced" for some. Now, she wants everyone to know that there are also crazy Christian groups around the world creating instability. Harf decided to mention Joseph Kony, who’s name experienced a brief period of notoriety when a 30-minute documentary about him came out in 2012. The organization–Invisible Children–that released the video aims to capture him.

Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army that was formerly based in Uganda. According to The Independent, the group garnered support, but then turned on its supporters:

While initially enjoying strong public support, Kony's group, the Lord's Resistance Army, turned on its own supporters in an increasingly brutal and incoherent campaign, supposedly bent on "purifying" the Acholi people and turning Uganda into a theocracy ruled by the Ten Commandments.

The Congressional Research Service has more on the subject:

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a small yet vicious armed group that originated in northern Uganda in 1987. Founded and led by Joseph Kony, the LRA currently operates in the remote border areas between the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and, reportedly, Sudan. The LRA’s actions—which include massacres, abductions (notoriously of children), sexual assault, and looting—have caused humanitarian suffering and instability. The group is active in a region marked by other complex security and humanitarian challenges, and the conflict has eluded a negotiated or military solution. The Ugandan military has prevented the LRA from operating within Uganda since roughly 2005, and LRA’s numbers have greatly declined from thousands of fighters in the late 1990s and early 2000s to a reported 150-200 “core combatants,” traveling on foot and equipped with small arms.1 Still, according to the non-governmental LRA Crisis Tracker, the LRA has killed over 2,300 civilians and abducted thousands more since December 2008, when an attempted peace process with the group broke down.

The LRA emerged in northern Uganda in 1987, the year after Yoweri Museveni, a rebel leader from southern Uganda, seized power, ending nearly a decade of rule by leaders from the north.24 Joseph Kony, then in his 20s, initially laid claim to the legacy of Alice Lakwena, an ethnic Acholi spiritual leader from northern Uganda. Lakwena was a key figure among northern rebel factions seeking to overthrow the Museveni government, but her Holy Spirit Movement (HSM) was defeated by the Ugandan military in 1987. Kony, reportedly a relative of Lakwena’s, then founded the LRA. The group, primarily composed of ethnic Acholis, targeted civilians in Acholi areas of Uganda and sought support and protection from the government of Sudan. In the late 1980s, the Museveni government recruited Acholis into government-backed civilian defense forces, which led the LRA to escalate its attacks against Acholi civilians and contributed to deep distrust between the government and northern communities.

No one is saying that Kony is a good person. He is a Christian extremist–and he’s a despicable human being, but–unlike radical Islam–he’s not threatening the United States the way the followers of radical Islam do, nor does he have the capability. As Allahpundit wrote over at Hot Air, there may have been another reason why we haven’t mentioned Kony much in the news. For starters, the Kony campaign hit a PR snag when it’s co-founder suffered a mental breakdown. Oh, and there’s the bit where we haven’t been all that successful in capturing him:

Another reason you don’t hear much about Kony is because — ta da — Harf’s boss hasn’t had much success in catching him. Obama, to his credit, was actually ahead of the game on the Lord’s Resistance Army, sending 100 U.S. special ops troops to Africa in late 2011 to help locals track him down. He increased that commitment to 250 troops last year. Still no luck. Everyone’s doing their best, no doubt, but go figure that you didn’t hear Obama talk much about Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts during the first two years of his presidency and why you still don’t hear him talk much about Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi today. When you’re after a guy and coming up zeroes, you’re not in a hurry to highlight that fact. If Harf wants to hear more chatter about Kony, she can go knock on the Oval Office door and make the complaint herself.

Allahpundit added that besides ISIS and al-Qaeda, there’s Boko Haram in Nigeria, who’ve killed civilians by the thousands (many more than LRA)–and we have yet to recover the girls abducted that spawned the BringBackOurGirls hashtag.

There is a balance of threat in this situation–and the LRA doesn’t register as high as ISIS and other groups that espouse Islamic extremism.

One last thing: As, Allahpundit wrote, Marie Harf will not be the next State Department Spokesperson.  Current Spokesperson, Jen Pskai, will join the White House as their next communications director.