Friday, March 23, 2012

Kony2012: militarization and disinformation blowback


In any major disinformation campaign, the minimum requirement for success is to at least be credible. Invisible Children, Inc. is not a credible basis for information on Uganda and Africa. Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and cannot be compared to Hitler, Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This group that is called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has in the past kidnapped children and turned them into child soldiers and has exploited young girls. However, this LRA is not the military threat to Africa which is portrayed in this massive campaign called Kony2012. At this moment, to mobilize millions around the world around a campaign that Joseph Kony is a major military threat in Uganda and Central Africa is disinformation.

This is the act of deliberately spreading inaccurate information. The campaign, Kony 2012, is a classic example of military disinformation. The success in tapping into the emotions of 80 million young persons has exposed its linkages to the disinformation and cyber warfare capabilities of the US defense infrastructure. Ugandans have already responded with clarity to this manipulation of the war in their society. I think that it is important to examine the wider context of the ‘invisible hand’ behind the production of Kony2012 and the current campaign calling for a day of Action on April 20. This campaign raises deeper issues about the contemporary moment in global politics and the intense competition for imperial domination of Africa.

Disinformation and Ideological coercion of US citizens to support the military-industrial complex has been most manifest in the propaganda war over terrorism. However, this war on terror only served to isolate the United States, weaken the society and bog down its military in quagmires such as Afghanistan. Yet, despite this ideological coercion and decline, planners of the military information operations have been studying social media and information warfare in order to neutralize the growing opposition to militarism in the United States. This social media event must be examined thoroughly because the Kony2012 video broke records to become the fastest-spreading online video in history. This fact of the breaking of records alone requires deeper understanding. I will argue that the barrage of media coverage which ensured this record was not accidental. The massive promotion of this on-line can now be understood in the wider context of full spectrum warfare. in which combat operations are reserved for the last resort. Psychological warfare and disinformation operations are crucial to weaken populations both at home and in ‘enemy’ territory. I am contending that the Kony2012 was a test to intercept the social media capabilities of the youths in the USA in this revolutionary moment. Kony2012 with its ambition to ensnare millions has already been exposed with millions debunking the assertions of the film. Pambazuka has published the response of Mahmood Mamdani. The Association of Concerned Africa Scholars has published their statement addressed to the U.S. Government about the Lord’s Resistance Army and Central Africa.

A special Africa Focus bulletin has pulled together reflections of videos, blog posts, and articles with Ugandan voices and other commentaries. This record is important in that it gives a comprehensive list of resources so that young students who are organizing rebuttals can find resources to counter the planned April 20 manifestations to support the call for the US military to intervene in Africa.

In the face of this massive grassroots opposition to the manipulation by Invisible Children, even the New York Times has now joined in with its Opinion Page article that ‘Kony is not the problem.’

If Kony is not the problem, then what should peace and progressive forces do to ensure that campaign such as these are nipped in the bud? Read more