- October 26, 2011
- From the Team
Yesterday, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to question senior U.S. officials on the details of President Obama’s decision to send military advisers central Africa to help governments there stop LRA atrocities. My teammate Michael already posted a full read-out, but we also wanted to specifically thank several of our champions in the House who demonstrated continued leadership on this issue.
These Members of Congress called attention to LRA atrocities and noted the added value that U.S. military advisers can bring to efforts to bring LRA leaders to justice and help protect people from LRA attacks. They also rightly noted that the President’s decision resulted from years of Congressional and public attention to the issue. Several members also recognized the presence of Evelyn Apoko, a former LRA abductee (and current Strongheart fellow) we were honored to host at the hearing; Evelyn spent three years with the LRA after being abducted from her home in northern Uganda in 2001, and you may recognize her from her video response to Rush Limbaugh’s claim that the LRA is a Christian group.
In particular, we’d think shout-outs are deserved by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 18), Howard Berman (D-CA 28), Ed Royce (R-CA 40), Donald Payne (D-NJ 10), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE 1), Russ Carnahan (D-MO 3), and Gerald Connolly (D-VA 11). Several of these Members cited the strong grassroots support for this issue in their home districts (that’s you!) as reason for their support, and if you have a second and are from one of their districts, it’s not too late to tell them “thank you.”
Some clutch quotes:
Committee Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 18): “…we are not here today to determine whether Joseph Kony is evil. We know that he is. We are here because in May 2010, the President signed into law the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. With the backing of thousands of committed advocates, including from my own District, and with over 200 co-sponsors in the House and some 64 co-sponsors in the Senate, the Act enjoyed overwhelming support. It required the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the LRA…”
Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA 28): “While the LRA may not pose a direct national security threat to the U.S. in narrowly defined terms, it does threaten the stability of a large swath of central Africa the size of California. This region includes South Sudan, the newest nation in the world whose independence efforts the U.S. strongly supported; Uganda, one of America’s strongest allies in the fight against the al-Shabab in Somalia, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization; the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo – two countries that face significant challenges policing their territories and whose civilians are currently suffering the brunt of the LRA’s atrocities. I believe that it is squarely in our national interest to build the capacity of allied forces so that they can fight bad actors on their own… I’m very hopeful that the Administration’s comprehensive strategy – including the deployment of a modest number of combat-equipped advisors – will finally help turn the tide in the struggle against the LRA.”
Representative Ed Royce (R-CA 40): “The LRA has been raping and pillaging central Africa. Under the sadistic Joseph Kony, the group exists to kill, capture, and resupply for its next plunder. There’s no other reason for its being. This savagery has landed Kony and his LRA on U.S. terrorism lists… Sometimes just getting rid of one person does make a big difference. History is full of captivating leaders with bad ideas who do great damage. Liberian Charles Taylor devastated neighboring Sierra Leone. After his removal, the region is mainly peaceful. Kony’s removal won’t guarantee peace — but it makes it possible. We tried this mission once before, in late 2008; let’s succeed now at sidelining this terrorist.”
Representative Russ Carnahan (D-MO 3): “Last Congress, this body took an important step in passing the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act—reaffirming U.S. efforts to support regional partners’ in combating the LRA. The deployment of military advisors is but one pillar of the comprehensive strategy, and I look forward to an update on the broader approach, including humanitarian assistance, reconciliation and reintegration, and post-conflict recovery and development.