At University, we were taught in the political science classes that war is “politics by other means”. We took that as gospel truth especially as political science students and graduates, until we grew up to find ourselves confronted with some wars that didn’t seem to clearly reflect the political contents in them. Examples of such was when the political contestation element is not clear all even the world, but near home here, the ADF(Allied Defense Forces) of Jamil Mukulu, now in prison and courts, The Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) of Joseph Kony, are home grown examples of war whose political purposes and motives were lazy at best, and nonexistent at worst.
What made such wars was lack of clear political motives, was lack of a professed motive, a political programme or political demands. And even some of their “advocates” hid their clear connection and purpose especially because the means and methods used to recruit combatants and mobilize support were anti-people, unpopular, and hence, it became official for the war leaders and their internal and external backers to stand till and proclaim their support! For example, it is a known fact that both the LRA and ADF had common external backers as individuals and politics or political entities.
But how could anyone pronounce oneself as a backer to an organization like LRA which, after failing to get local support, chose to forcefully recruit by force including maiming the people, abducting children as young as six years, while the ADF threw bombs in taxi parks, planted others in public transport like taxis and buses! The LRA and ADF however, were right not to have a political programme and political demands put to the government of Uganda. Reason being that, these, were proxy war machines, for an external force that had political contradictions.
In politics, we also know that there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies; these are only permanent INTERSTS. So, allow me not to mention the name of the external founder and backer of ADF and LRA, since we have now mended fences and ceased hostility between us as politics. But if we go back to our earlier definition of an ideology (in an earlier story) as being a “political philosophy (plus) an Action programme”, the LRA and ADF backers had the philosophy, and the fighting groups were the backers Action programme of fighting and causing regime change in Uganda. No wonder therefore, it was difficult to identify the cause of the fighting groups because, they did not share the ideological intents of their backers.
The rest of the supporters within here and outside, were political opportunists using excuses of “marginalization” of Northern Uganda, some indiscipline from NRA/UPDF soldiers, the failed Nairobi peace talks between Gen Tito Lutwa and NRA’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,blah blah. But for us who were involved in the fight to…. Back of these retrogressive anti-people fighting machines, knew that there was a foreign ideological cause to Uganda’s interests and LRA was just a Northern front, and ADF, a western front, meant to over stretch and overwhelm Uganda’s UPDF, bring down the state, and the foreign ideologically based caused, make Uganda a strong board of what is now referred to as “terrorism “which is again, an ideological war, at the global level this time.
Of-course, someone out there is about to attack me for saying that terrorism is an “ideological war”! But wait! Terrorists have a philosophy, because it uses indiscriminate violence as its strategy to achieve its intended misuse. But demented as it is, an ideology is like a religion, that is why it creates cadres, who, when they internalize it, can use it in any situation convincingly interpret its perceived benefits to individuals and groups, and that is how, it becomes easy to use it to recruit members, supporters and sympathizers across the board.
Communism as an ideology, recruited across the world, Liberal capitalist democracy has cadres willing to kill or die for it worldwide; colonialism and imperialism caused the first and second world wars! Indeed, capitalist liberal democracy had to infiltrate communism, develop cadres within the system, hence undermine it from within and from without, till 1990;s when the system, which had its systemic weaknesses, was brought down under the guise of “perestroika and democracy! Anybody who thinks that the cold war was not an ideological war, just like the so called Islamic state terrorism in the middle East, now in North Africa. Infiltrating into sub-sharan Africa, can take us back to school.
My contention therefore, is that you can’t fight an ideological war without ideological cadres and fighters! If Christians Vs Islamic crusades were not ideological wars, based on theological philosophies with intents to convert or proselytize as many Christian and Muslim cadres and fighters for Allah and Christ, then someone may call those wars fantasy films of Holly wood and Nollywood!. The world today, is United against terrorism as a common enemy; but unless and until we understand their demented ideology and fighting doctrine, and design appropriate ideological weaponry, this war will take longer to defeat with mere superiority of arms!