President Obama announces U.S. advisers will stay
In a major speech yesterday launching a new initiative to prevent mass violence around the world, President Obama announced that he was extending the deployment of U.S. military advisers in central Africa who are working to help capture Joseph Kony and protect civilians from LRA attacks. Here are his words (minute 24:30 in the above video):
When the LRA — led by Joseph Kony — continued its atrocities in central Africa, I ordered a small number of American advisers help Uganda and its neighbors pursue the LRA. When I made that announcement, I directed my National Security Council to review our progress after 150 days. We have done so, and today I can announce that our advisers will continue their efforts to bring this madman to justice and save lives. It is part of our regional strategy to end the scourge that is the LRA and realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family, no girl is raped, and no boy is turned into a child soldier.
The U.S. military advisers were deployed to parts of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic last October, and ensuring they are able to continue pursuing Kony and helping protect civilians was the first goal of the KONY 2012 campaign. In other words: our lobbying has been heard.
In his speech, President Obama also shared moving reflections on the Holocaust and other situations of mass violence:
Remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.
For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women. And we have seen it again — madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself. The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human. These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.
“Never again” is a challenge to societies. We’re joined today by communities who’ve made it your mission to prevent mass atrocities in our time. This museum’s Committee of Conscience, NGOs, faith groups, college students, you’ve harnessed the tools of the digital age — online maps and satellites and a video and social media campaign seen by millions. You understand that change comes from the bottom up, from the grassroots.
Our team had the privilege of attending the speech, as well as discussions with senior Obama Administration officials that took place afterward. Those discussions are now posted online. Highlights include this video with discussion of the U.S. strategy to stop LRA violence from some of the President’s top Africa advisers, this one with the Deputy National Security Adviser relating how President Obama learned about KONY 2012 (hint: it wasn’t the newspaper), and this one with comments from Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey on the impact of the KONY 2012 campaign so far.