Ugandan Tragedy or Genocide?

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)

Text of Ugandan Tragedy or Genocide?

  • Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC

    Ugandan Tragedy or Genocide?Author(s): Jim Terrie and Olara A. OtunnuSource: Foreign Policy, No. 157 (Nov. - Dec., 2006), pp. 14-16Published by: Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLCStable URL: .Accessed: 15/06/2014 14:48

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

    .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact


    Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Foreign Policy.

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 14:48:45 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • [ Letters ]




    New ideas and new perspectives are what make The New

    School new. They also make our graduate program in

    International Affairs unique. The program combines

    interdisciplinary study with practical problem-solving skills. More than 300 students from 55 countries work directly with international practitioners and scholars. The focus is

    on global economics, poverty, international institutions, NGOs, organizations, and culture - with a special emphasis

    on the problems facing developing countries.

    The graduate program in International Affairs at

    The New School.

    INFORMATION SESSION: Monday, December 4, at 6 p.m.

    66 West 12th Street, New York City

    To RSVP and for more information, visit Or call admissions at 212.229.5630


    An affirmative action/equal opportunity institution

    clarity. Nor does Douglas's logic when he would have us applaud a foreign policy that has led to a sharp rise in terrorism-related deaths for everyone except Americans. Making the world more dangerous for every one else does not make Americans safer.

    Debating Genocide Olara Otunnu's "The Secret Geno cide" (July/August 2006) is a nec essary and impassioned call for attention to the appalling situation in northern Uganda. His accurate descriptions of the plight of those suffering should compel national and global leaders to find a solution.

    Yet the roots and persistence of the conflict in northern Uganda are obscured by the simple rhetoric of "genocide" Otunnu so willfully employs. The notion that the govern

    ment of President Yoweri Museveni is carrying out a deliberate policy of genocide is ill-founded and obfus cating. Until the recent peace nego tiations, the problem has been that the preferred policy option of the

    Ugandan government was the mil itary capitulation of the Lord's

    Resistance Army (LRA) and peace on the government's terms. This is partly understandable, consider ing the government's own history and the nihilistic brutality of the LRA. But, its proclamations notwithstanding, the Ugandan government and military have so far been unable or unwilling to defeat the LRA. This failure has resulted in a security stalemate, prolonged by the Sudanese gov ernment's support for the LRA.

    With this support now declining, the Ugandan government will fall back on its military strategy if the current negotiations fail. Indeed, if the LRA reverts to attacking its own people, the government will have little choice but to do so.

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 14:48:45 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • Unless Otunnu is advocating direct intervention into Uganda (against the wishes of its govern

    ment), then the Ugandan gov ernment remains a necessary partner to alleviate suffering and ultimately end the conflict. Mean while, attempts to morally equate it with the LRA are disingenuous and symptomatic of the deep and counterproductive suspicion

    between the government and the northerners, especially those in the diaspora. The Ugandan govern ment is beset by many ills, often of its own making, but the notion that it is in the same league as Juvenal Habyarimana's Rwanda or Slobodan Milosevic's Serbia is a blatant political ploy to delegit imize it.

    Otunnu's humanitarian con cerns are undoubtedly genuine. But his partisan and conspiratorial approach to the complexities of this conflict does little to further an understanding of this tragedy, much less a solution. Testing the "maturity of the world's humani tarian instincts" is less important than finding a sustainable solution that alleviates suffering, resolves the conflict, and advances Uganda as a whole.

    -JIM TERRIE Research Associate

    Kofi Annan International

    Peacekeeping Training Centre

    Accra, Ghana

    Olara A. Otunnu replies: Jim Terrie's perspective is based on assumptions about the Museveni regime, not the horrendous realities unfolding on the ground. He accepts that my article provides an "accurate description of the plight of those suffering." But he runs away from the logical conclusions that stem from this acknowledge

    ment. Terrie provid es no evidlence for Museveni's supposedly benign intent in northern Uganda. His

    He is a chld sle

    Why is this Sudanese child carrying a gun and not a schoolbag? What are the origins of the conflict in Sudan? What are the challenges facing the humanitarian community?

    And what initiatives could help stem the suffering?

    The Journal of International Peace Operations presents expert views on the background, current situation and original, innovative solutions to the world's conflicts.

    'S~ ~~~ " 4fiM|[|E X 0 A*a ? { lsssl ZE l2

    IA *II *

    New titles from Cornell University Press

    ANTI-AMERICANISMS IN WORLD POLITICS edited by Peter J. Katzenstein and Robert 0 Keohane

    "Anyone who wishes to tinderstand and help overcome the

    decline in America's soft powxer would be wise to start bv

    readiing this important book." -0oscph S. Nvc. jr.

    368 pagcs $95500 Clotli, $24.95 1)ap)cr


    "Cogent,timely, and comprehensive, this well written antIc

    compelling book shouldl be read bv all who want to make

    a success of what the internation-al commnnunitvl has so far

    ________ ________ mostlv failed at-rebuildg states after conflict." -Lord Paddy Ashdown

    328 pages. $27.95 cloth


    "TfIhis complexs storv- of idealism,, greed, and vriole:nce>, wroven through social formations and the pale institutions

    _ ~~~~~of the emerginlg Iraqi state, produces a compelling account

    Cornelfinve Press -the clearest set avrailable of the 'newv Iraq."'' www.col llpress.c rnel ledu -C lurles lI'iipp

    This content downloaded from on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 14:48:45 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

  • L[ Letters

    implication that only northerners consider the government's policies to be genocidal is plain wrong. Inde pendent commentators, within and outside Uganda, have come to the same conclusion.

    The genocide in Uganda is being carried out in the 200 gov ernment-controlled concentration camps, into which 2 million peo ple have been herded since they were established more than a decade ago. The genocidal weapon is the horrendous condi tions deliberately imposed on the camp populations that produce 1,500 deaths a week-three times the death rate in Darfur. These conditions, underpinned by gov ernment policies and an official hate campaign, correspond to actions, to use the language of the 1948 Genocide Convention, aimed at destroying "in whole or in part" the physical and emo

    tional preservation, livelihood, culture, children, public health, and the family structure and life of the targeted community. In north ern Uganda, all the elements that constitute genocide have been brought together in a chillingly comprehensive manner.

    Museveni has the capability to defeat the LRA militarily, if he so wished. In the 1980s, he quick ly prevailed over several rebel lions more formidable than the LRA. Uganda has also easily

    mounted a massive invasion and occupation of parts of neighbor ing Democratic Republic of the

    Congo. It is just not credible to contend that, for more than 15 years, Museveni has lacked the capability to defeat the rag-tag LRA, which enj oys no popular support and is composed mostly of abducted children. The truth is that the war is one of conven

    ience. It provides Museveni with a pretext for genocide, incursions into neighboring countries, and a convenient political scapegoat. This is a case of political unwill ingness, not military inability.

    Over a period of six months (ending March 2006), the LRA iS reported by the government to have killed 46 people; compare this figure to the 1,500 people dying every

    week in the concentration camps. What is wrong with this picture?

    The Museveni regime must be judged by its actions and hard evi dence, rather than throu