Uganda’s Detached Outrage

This week in totally f*cking insane Somalia news, Ugandan officials declare their utter shock at the random, unprovoked attacks on Kampala last week which killed over 70 people. As the very first sentence in a long and entertaining piece in says, “Uganda’s East African neighbours have pledged soft support should the country choose to go on the offensive in Somalia.”

Yes, go on the offensive. Because stationing five thousand troops in another country is no provocation whatsoever, at least not one recognized by the Western world. And after all, African regimes got their ideas of proportionality and nationhood from the West, a lovely little gift of colonialism. Before I digress too far, suffice to say that Uganda has been “on the offensive” for a while now in Somalia, what with its penchant for shelling Mogadishu residences full of civilians. Not that their opponents in al-Shabaab aren’t guilty of the same thing, but then, often it’s because they’re fighting the Ugandan occupiers or the pathetic puppet “Transitional Federal Government,” a UN-backed clique of former Barre apparatchiks and US-financed warlords.

This, as I spoke with on Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton recently, is the idea that history begins anew each time the US or any Western-accepted country is hit with some atrocity in retaliation. The US was attacked on 9/11 for no reason except possibly that bin Laden was jealous of and/or hated our capitalisms; the previous 50+ years of Washington’s intervention in the Middle East didn’t happen, if you ask Sarah Palin. Evil, conditionless al-Shabaab attacked peaceable, celebratory Ugandans for no other reason than that the former are anti-soccer and anti-modernity; Somalis being killed by Kampala’s troops on their own soil has nothing to do with it. The logic employed here could make a neocon just die from pride, with any luck.

Uganda’s blustery officials declare this “the beginning of the end of al-Shabaab”; and sure, if US experience in driving out native insurgencies in such success stories as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Vietnam are any indicator, the capable likes of powerhouse Uganda could enjoy similar victory. “Sources” say that Uganda is willing and able to increase its Somalia contingent from 5,000 to 20,000 troops, the magical number somebody for some reason decided is needed to wipe out al-Shabaab. A cited regional precedent is Zimbabwe’s involvement in the “Great African War” in the DR Congo in 1998, in which Robert Mugabe, the great democrat and statesman, sent 12,000 troops to prop up Laurent Kabila, an erstwhile Marxist so corrupt that even legendary scoundrel Che Guevara turned his back on him.

In all seriousness, as I point out in my recent op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, this is a textbook case of blowback. It’s the clearest example we’ve seen in a while, which is why it’s so puzzling to see such reasonable people as African officials reacting with such surprise.

Ugandans should demand their government retreat from this downward spiral into fruitless and endless intervention and deal with more pressing issues, like the fact that homosexuals eat da poo poo and there are just still so many of them to put to death, and the other civilizational advancements for which sub-Saharan Africa is well known.