Should US Troops Be in Uganda?

Aside from the fact that Barack Obama did not, in fact, send troops to Uganda in order to “kill Christians,” what should we think about the fact that he sent troops to Uganda in the first place? Needless to say, I’m far more hesitant about sending U.S. troops anywhere than I was a decade ago, but let’s look at the circumstances:

  • The Lords Resistance Army is as worthy a target of being wiped out as any band of murderous fanatics in the world. We can’t go after everyone, but the United States has been committed for some time to the integrity of both Uganda and the newly created South Sudan. If we’re going to go after anyone, the LRA surely deserves to be near the top of the list.
  • It’s a very small deployment. Sending a hundred trainers and advisors isn’t in the same category as a full-scale commitment of troops and U.S. military power. And with the LRA now cut off from Khartoum, there’s a realistic chance of getting rid of them for good at fairly low cost.
  • Unlike Libya, this deployment was authorized by Congress last year in the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. This, combined with the small scale of the operation, makes it constitutionally benign.
  • Finally, there’s the question of whether this deployment will remain small as time goes by. On this score, I think Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt. The Libya operation may have been constitutionally suspect, but operationally Obama demonstrated that he was capable of putting limits on what the United States was willing to do and then sticking with it even under considerable pressure from our allies. And although he has escalated in Afghanistan, the escalation wasn’t a matter of caving in to pressure from the military. It came only after very detailed discussion and planning, and it was consistent with everything he had been saying about Afghanistan for the previous two years.

Put this all together and I’m pretty much OK with this operation. I’d love to see the LRA cleansed from the face of the earth, and I think there’s a decent chance of being able to do it now. This mission is, obviously, being done with the cooperation of the Ugandan government, it’s small and focused, and there’s every reason to think it will remain small and focused. This is not Iraq 2.0.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.