Joseph Kony and populist interventionism

While the political right has a well-earned reputation for favoring military intervention abroad, the truth is that the urge to spend blood and treasure in foreign adventures extends far beyond the hawks of the Republican Party.  The causes are often quite different, but the proposed solution is the same - sending American soldiers to some far-off land, whether in support of supposed American interests, or in order to fight some alleged injustice.

Enter the latest Internet meme - Joseph Kony.  According to a video produced by a group called Invisible Children circulating around the Internet (I won’t link to it, but it’s easy to find), Kony is a horrific Ugandan terrorist who uses child soldiers and commits all manner of atrocities.  Now, the underlying facts seem to be sound - it’s true that Kony is a terrible man.  But there are serious questions about the nature of the Invisible Children charity, and the campaign they are running.

Furthermore, there are significant problems with the whole tactic.  It’s a dangerous proposition to send troops and intervene in a foreign nation without deeply understanding the issues at hand.  The idea that we would ever make such a decision based on a viral web video is truly scary.  And, most crucially, it has yet to be shown in any way that our interests are at stake.  Myself and other non-interventionists shudder at the idea of committing troops simply as an act of do-gooderism.

It is a dangerous myth that American forces can, or should, be used as world police to fight every bad guy.  If there is one thing humanity has shown, it is excellent at producing monsters - and quixotic good guys who think they can stop them.  If one seeks to rid the world of all villains one would need an army of millions and untold trillions of dollars that simply do not exist.  We must stand strong and reject the call to take action abroad in all but the most dire circumstances, and only then as a last resort.

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