|RDR file photo|
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
By Andrew W. Griffin
Red Dirt Report, editor
Posted: October 18, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – With our current poll showing the majority of Red Dirt Report readers are skeptical or out-right against the newly-hatched American intervention in Uganda and east-central Africa, one of the craftsmen in Congress of the so-called “Plan Uganda” operation, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), is defending the this U.S. foreign policy move and our involvement there, as approved by Congress.
We wrote several stories since Friday on the issue, which can be found here, here and here. Two members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation responded to our inquiries about the "Plan Uganda" operation.
The Obama administration, with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta taking the lead, has been getting criticized for their late Friday afternoon “invasion by press release.” Panetta finally sat down with CBS News and said that the 100 American troops being sent to Uganda is to monitor the “elements there that either have ties to al Qaeda or that represent the forces of terrorism on their own. And that’s what’s dangerous.”
So, Panetta is indicating that real problems could arise if crazed, religious-minded terrorists get a foothold in areas of Africa that, at least up to this point, have been supportive of U.S. operations - the crisis could worsen. Right now, Uganda has willingly accepted a portion of the $45 million aid package sent to that country and to Burundi this year - along with four drones - in an effort to fight rebels and terrorists coming from other areas of East Africa, according to a June 28, 2011 BBC article.
Red Dirt Report spoke with Inhofe’s press spokesman Jared Young on Tuesday afternoon, it is clear that the American public and media has not been given the full story on the violent and brutal Lord’s Resistance Army cult and the loosely affiliated terrorist organizations connected to them.
Stability in this area of Africa is key, argues Inhofe, who helped author the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, and has spent much time in sub-Saharan Africa as we have reported.
In response to the idea that the LRA “does not pose a significant national security threat to the United States, Inhofe’s office responds, primarily towards comments made last Friday by conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.
“The LRA is responsible for one of the longest, most violent conflicts on the continent of Africa and continues to destabilize the countries of Central Africa…, millions have been displaced, tens of thousands have died, and it is estimated that more than 30,000 children have been kidnapped and either killed, or turned into ‘Child Soldiers’ or sex slaves.”
Inhofe and his office refute claims that the LRA are of the Christian religion. Rather, they note, “The LRA is a brutal cult with (Joseph) Kony as their messianic leader.” To drive that point home, Inhofe reminds the media of the brutal and vicious nature of the LRA and their attacks on innocent Africans. From kidnapping women and children to “using HIV/AIDS infected soldiers as weapons of biological mass destruction” by raping villagers so they infect the rest of the community. Sadistic tortures, maimings and cleansing the land of “evil people” and government collaborators is commonplace, they note.
So, why are American advisors going to Uganda and neighboring countries? Well, Inhofe defends this saying that “US forces are already engaged with over 50 countries worldwide.” And when it comes to the African continent, minus the Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, Inhofe’s office says that there are over 1,000 U.S. troops are operating in over 20 African countries, from Algeria to Tanzania, involved with operations addressing everything from “intelligence fusion” to “special ops.”
“This isn’t like going into Libya, Kosovo or Somalia,” Young said. “These are trained and equipped military advisors like we have had in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This area of Africa – and specifically Anglophone Uganda – is of “national strategic importance.”
Asked more specifically about Uganda, spokesman Young said the senator understands that “it’s a region of the world that most Americans don’t pay much attention to” and that they “don’t understand the issues related to sub-Saharan Africa.”
Specifically addressing the Lord’s Resistance Army, Young said they are evident not only in Uganda but in South Sudan and Central African Republic, and possibly other nearby countries.
“What they are doing is destabilizing the area,” Young said of the LRA. “And that destabilization makes it ripe for extremist activity.”
One of the extremist groups, the Islamist “al-Shabaab network,” based primarily in lawless Somalia is one of those groups. Interestingly, the neighboring Kenyan government announced this week that Kenyan troops were entering Somalia to fight the al-Shabaab terrorists.
Noting that these terrorist groups and networks are not like a McDonald’s franchise, they are a “loosely affiliated group” and “have their own ties.”
Young said his office and the senator were puzzled by the Obama administration’s decision to release this information on a “dump day” like Friday.
“It shows (Obama) doesn’t get it, which isn’t a big shock,” Young added.
Red Dirt Report
has wanted to know more about Inhofe’s interest in African issues and wanted to
know about 1.) How much will this
cost? 2.) What concerns do we have
with China in the region? 3.) What
about Inhofe and his support of Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Museveni, who recently
allowed his troops to recently displace – brutally, we should add – “squatters”
on land belonging to a British corporation. 4.) What about the sub-Saharan Africans in Libya being brutally
beaten or murdered by U.S.-supported rebels? 5.) What about all those Ugandan “troops” who took American cash to
protect U.S. bases in Iraq in recent years? Why aren’t they taking on the LRA? 6.) What role does your Christian faith
– and your involvement with the so-called “Family” - play in your dealings with
African leaders? 7.) And with American forces stretched thin around the globe, is getting involved in yet another foreign battle zone conservative and wise?
And those are just a few questions we have. As for the rest of the media and this Uganda operation, Young said that on late Friday, calls for Inhofe came from everyone from the Fox News Channel to National Public Radio.
“This morning he did an interview with a D.C.-based conservative radio talk show,” added Young.
And Young acknowledged that the prominent Republican has a heart for Africa.
Said Young: “He’s been to the area a number of times and knows the country quite well.”
We hope to get a chance to speak to Sen. Inhofe and get him to share his thoughts on these important geopolitical issues.
Copyright 2011 West Marie Media