Kony 2012 and Afghanistan

I found last week’s hoopla surrounding the Kony 2012 video annoying and disturbing.  Designed to stir souls to a noble cause, the video is worrisome because it is classic agitprop.  It has ignited among its viewers a strong emotional firestorm that bypasses reason.  (On a sadder note, it seems the global explosion of attention and backlash were too much for the maker of the video.)

Everyone agrees that Kony is a bad man, but I doubt everyone agrees on a real solution.  Neither Facebook posts nor monetary contributions stop an evil man like this.  UN blue helmets don’t do much good either; just ask the residents of Srebenica.  It would take a concerted effort by a competent, modern military force to uproot that kind of evil.  Funny though, when that sort of operation becomes reality, as with the Iraq War, people complain about it.  If only text donations were more widespread back then, maybe Saddam Hussein could have been effaced by the collective wireless bills of the Free World.  And what about the fresher atrocities of Kim Jong Il?  By the time of his death last December, there was no 80 million+ hits YouTube video for his crimes.

For all the talk of “capturing” Kony, I would not be surprised if his capture attempt looked and ended up like last year’s righteous and successfully culminated mission against Osama Bin Laden.

Just a day or two after the Kony 2012 media explosion came the sensational storm of the Afghanistan massacre.  But instead of passion to spark a new war, this story reinforced among the public a desire to end an old one.  I instinctively resist the popular sentiment to pull out that comes from seeing casualties and bloodshed.  When I studied “peace and security” as an international relations major, I discovered the great extent of thought that informs decision-making on questions of peace and war.  Such deadly serious business must not be decided by the fickle whims of the public, but ought to rest in the hands of sober-minded policymakers.  Whether we actually have such trustworthy policymakers in power is another story altogether.

The power to make war is a necessary and classic function of government that is not going away anytime soon.  Indeed, Robert Kagan’s latest book argues specifically for America’s need to maintain a prominent profile in the world’s affairs.  What is ultimately entailed in Afghanistan is hard for me to say, but mere public opinion shouldn’t determine whether we send SEALs to get Kony or send our troops in Afghanistan packing.  Our national security and our troops’ sacrifice are too important for that.

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