The game plan for 2012
Last October, President Obama announced his intent to deploy 100 U.S. military advisers to help governments in central Africa bring LRA leader Joseph Kony to justice and protect communities being affected by LRA violence. This was the most significant step ever taken by our leaders to help end this crisis and a testament to the enormous progress we’ve made together in the past few years. But LRA attacks and abductions continue to be a reality for communities across central Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced by the violence.
That’s why we aim to make 2012 our biggest year yet. In short, we believe it’s possible that this could be the year that Joseph Kony is brought to justice and LRA atrocities are finally ended. We’re ready to do everything we can to help make that happen.
International attention to the LRA crisis – sparked in large part by American leadership – is at an all-time high. The United Nations and African Union are planning significant increases in their own efforts. And though by no means a silver-bullet, the presence of U.S. advisers in the region creates an unprecedented window of opportunity for peace.
To help see it happen, Resolve is pursuing three ambitious goals this year. And since achieving them will depend on the efforts of committed advocates across the country, we want to give you a sneak preview of what we aim to do with your help.
#1 – Secure a commitment from the President and our Members of Congress to give the U.S. advisers in central Africa the time they need in the field to successfully accomplish their mission.
In testimony before Congress, officials in the Obama Administration have emphasized that the deployment is “time-limited,” and – unless our leaders hear from us about it – it is possible that they could be withdrawn as early as this summer. We need to make sure the President sustains the deployment of advisers and provides additional support such as mobility and intelligence capabilities to make sure their efforts can succeed.
#2 – Increase U.S. investment in peaceful efforts to protect people from further violence.
When President Obama issued his LRA strategy in November of 2010, we applauded him for making it a comprehensive one, incorporating plans to both pursue top LRA commanders directly and invest in peaceful measures that protect civilians who are vulnerable to LRA attacks. Yet so far, the former has far outweighed the latter. Bureaucratic inertia and cuts in the foreign aid budget have drastically limited U.S. investment in low-cost, high-impact programs like community early-warning systems, road rehabilitation, and FM radio towers to broadcast messages that convince LRA abductees and fighters to come home. In 2012, this has to change.
#3 – Get more funding from Congress.
Last year, a dogged yearlong campaign helped convince Members of Congress who oversee the budget process to include millions of dollars in new funds for LRA-related programs in this year’s budget. While this was a huge and encouraging success, there are still significant needs for communities targeted by the LRA – needs that the U.S. could address with a relatively small investment. It’s a tough climate in DC, but with perseverance, we can make it happen again. The pay-off for LRA-affected communities is more than worth it.
The first big step of our plan to make peace happen this year involves teaming up with our partners at Invisible Children this spring for Kony 2012, an all-out blitz on our leaders through events in DC and local lobbying campaigns. You may be a veteran advocate who knows the drill, but this campaign will be the biggest yet — so get ready.
This year will also include much more. We plan to once again mobilize supporters whose Members of Congress help write our country’s foreign aid budget, to make sure funding continues to be available to help communities across central Africa impacted by LRA attacks. We’ll be sending my teammate Paul back to central Africa, to report firsthand on what’s happening from the ground. And we’ll be working to make the LRA Crisis Tracker – which provides the world’s only public tracking of LRA atrocities, in near real-time – even stronger, to help our leaders understand the full scale of what’s happening in one of the most remote regions of the world.
As always, the commitment and generosity of advocates across the country is what makes all this happen. To all of you out there: thank you.