Joseph Kony has been labelled a "terrorist" by the Department of State:
I hereby determine that the individual known as Joseph Kony has committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
This decision was made by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in August 2008. Of course Kony is a heinous warlord. His Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.) has brutally raped, murdered, and abducted thousands and thousands of children.
But with his army of 200 child soldiers in eastern Africa, does Kony really "poses a significant risk" to the United States? How many Americans has the L.R.A. killed?
American citizens killed by Kony: 0.
I have yet to find an instance where the L.R.A. has actually killed U.S. citizens. (Reasoners! If you do find any cases where Kony or the L.R.A. has directly killed U.S. citizens, please share a link in the comments below. I'll gladly update this page accordingly.)
Although it's blatantly absurd to list Kony as a threat to the United States, this terrorist designation laid the groundwork for future involvement against the L.R.A. This listing was one of the rationales behind the "Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act." Signed by President Obama in May 2010, this act made it "the policy of the United States:"
to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield in the continued absence of a negotiated solution, and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord's Resistance Army fighters (2).
That act was later cited by Obama in October 2011 when he sent 100 "combat equipped" military advisers to stop the L.R.A. in four African nations: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
But thanks to the widely seen Kony 2012 video, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) have introduced a new Congressional resolution (H.Res. 583). This would increase U.S. assistance to the nations pursuing Kony. Once again, the "threat" Kony poses to the United States is used to justify the resolution (2).
H.Res. 583 would expand "the number of capable regional military forces deployed to protect civilians and pursue LRA commanders" (6). But as I discussed in a previous post, "even the Ugandan government deprioritizes the L.R.A." Uganda only has 1,500 soldiers against the LRA, one-third of its original force. Instead, it has been redeploying troops to combat al-Shabab in Somalia. Meanwhile, a U.S. trained battalion of Congolese soldiers "has yet to prove it can actively protect civilians from LRA raids." Plus, these regional militaries have a history of human rights abuses.
However, the McGovern-Royce resolution also calls for "promoting increased contributions from European and other donor nations for regional security efforts" (6). The U.S. should not have to be the policeman of the world. Even assuming there must be an intervention, why does it have to be the United States? The European Union, the African Union, and/or South Africa could all play a greater role to stop Kony.