October 12, 2010

The Worst Idea on the Internet Today

It's not quite New Coke, and it's not as ill-advised as signing up to be al-Qaeda's #3, but this is a pretty bad idea.

Wrap your head around this one: the executive director of Human Rights Watch, an organization for which I have much respect, has suggested the United States wage a counter-guerrilla campaign in the dense jungles of not one but four central and east African states to defeat the Lord's Resistance Army and arrest Joseph Kony.

What could go wrong, right? I mean, this would surely be one of those in-and-out things. And our efforts to track down and arrest two dudes in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan went off without a hitch in 2001, so we probably don't need to do any contingency planning or anything. This is what we call a fail-safe plan.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Kony and other Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commanders, charging them with war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the court depends on governments to make arrests ... there is no better case for the humanitarian use of force than the urgent need to arrest Joseph Kony, the ruthless leader of the LRA, and protect the civilians who are his prey.

Kenneth Roth is literally suggesting the United States act as the world's policeman here. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Roth and his organization, but this is a terrible, terrible idea. Roth mentions Bosnia and Kosovo as precedents for humanitarian intervention, but those were massive expeditionary operations supported by tens of thousands of soldiers. What he says is needed in this particular case is for the United States to send "special forces, expert intelligence, and rapid-deployment capacity" to a state in East Africa for humanitarian purposes.