Kony2012 and Information Warfare
A critical look at the Kony2012 campaign. Is it Information Warfare?
Joseph Kony is a Ugandan warlord – the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In 2005 he was indicted for war crimes but has so far evaded capture.
On March 5th, Invisible Children (an already questionable charity, because only 37% of their money goes towards ground work in Africa) uploaded a viral video to youtube. In three days the video received over 40 million hits, sparking outrage among the American youth and putting pressure on celebrities and policy makers to ‘stop Joseph Kony’. The video argues that the United States should be doing an insurgency to arrest Joseph Kony, while glazing over the fact that he is no longer in Uganda. A video I saw about the Kony2012 campaign by Rosabell Kagumire highlighted how the video speaks for her people, rather than lending them a voice. The video also assumes the dangerous stance of the “White Man’s Burden” and implicitly praises American Imperialism.
“A lie is halfway around the world before truth has even finished putting its boots on.”
The same applies here. The video’s brainwashing tactics are scary; it’s all about empowering rich white American kids to go in and ‘save Africa’ when they know nothing about the real issues. The Kony2012 video completely ignores the actual (varying) voices of the Ugandan public. Their voices are silenced in an effort to over-simplify the issue concerning Joseph Kony so that it becomes an easy-to-solve topic for America. The real issue cannot be simplified in such a gung-ho manner: corruption in the government and wars over resources blur the perpetrator-victim binary that Invisible Children used to make the video viral.
Like most warlords, Joseph Kony relies on an army that includes trained and desensitized child soldiers.
As Kagumire said, it’s the same narrative we’ve seen over and over: “Poor Africa must be saved by Westerners because as a continent it has no hope and needs to be coddled”. We are falling victim to that mentality, because the United states sent troops over last October to ‘help the Ugandan Army’ to arrest Joseph Kony… even though the Ugandan government has successfully beaten back LRA attacks and really doesn’t need any help. Our interference runs the risk of destroying progress made between the LRA, the Ugandan government and the citizens.
Kony2012 may also be an example of information warfare, which is why I believe Kony2012 is so dangerous.
Let’s take a look at what information warfare actually is:
“…an American concept involving the use and management of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Information warfare may involve collection of tactical information, assurance(s) that one’s own information is valid, spreading of propaganda or disinformation to demoralize or manipulate the enemy and the public, undermining the quality of opposing force information and denial of information-collection opportunities to opposing forces. Information warfare is closely linked to psychological warfare.”
So let’s look at the Kony2012 campaign.
- Management and use of information technology in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent? Check.
- Assurances that one’s own information is valid? Check.
- preading of propaganda or disinformation to manipulate the public? CHECK.
While I realize that Kony2012 is not on the same par as an information war between countries, the manipulation and ripple effect do, I think, constitute an information war on the American public. And it’s scary. I keep hearing that information and awareness is a good thing. And I agree, but what Kony2012 is doing IS NOT information. And because it’s not information, it’s not awareness.
Readers who wish to donate would do better to get in touch with http://www.africare.org/, a legit organisation.
There is actually far more information than I can synthesize into one post so here are links. Stay vigilant and stay informed.
Links to follow up on the Kony2012 campaign
- Rosebell Kagumire’s Video
- The Alarming Truth about KONY2012
- Anonymous’s Response