AMERICA'S AFRICA: Hollywood Celebrities Provide "Mood Music" and "Star Appeal" for US "Humanitarian Wars"
It’s a sign of the times: Hollywood heart-throbs, pop divas and TV chat show celebrities are turning on the mood music for America’s never-ending global war.
In a world of lawlessness, state terrorism, rank mendacity and war criminals masquerading as government leaders, what better than to engage the glamor of reassuring celebrities to add a certain “star appeal” to otherwise barbaric endeavours?
George Clooney, Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey are just some of the big names lending their faces and voices to a script worthy of Hollywood – only the script is coming out of the Pentagon.
Perhaps unwitting agents, these consumer-culture icons are ironically lending cover and justification to crimes and human suffering that they claim to be opposed to.
Take actor George Clooney. Last month, he caused a media stir when he was arrested for his part in a demonstration outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington protesting against Khartoum’s alleged violations in neighboring South Sudan. The day before his arrest, Clooney had a private meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House to discuss the Sudanese conflict.
Two weeks later, Obama hosts Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, the newly formed North African state which broke away from Sudan last July after decades of civil war. Media reports claimed that Obama urged South Sudan to not engage in conflict over border disputes with its northern neighbour.
Another two weeks later, South Sudan’s army dramatically escalates conflict by invading northern Sudan and seizing its vital oil installations in the district of Heglig. The attack triggered much sabre-rattling by Khartoum with President Omar Bashar all but declaring war on South Sudan. Fears of all-out war have subsided in the past few days after South Sudan’s forces withdrew across the border. This may be just the first of many renewed skirmishes to come.
There is no way, as Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, points out, that South Sudan would have embarked on such reckless aggression without prior tacit approval from Washington.
On that score, the likes of Clooney provide a crucial propaganda function. The genial screen star lends credibility to the long-running Washington narrative that the villain in the Sudanese conflict is the northern state of Omar Bashar. After all, Bashar is wanted as an alleged war criminal by the Western-controlled International Criminal Court. Clooney’s campaigning, no doubt motivated by well-meaning human concern, nevertheless adds a Hollywood dimension to the fraudulent “responsibility to protect” principle that Washington and other Western powers have been deploying as a cover for neo-imperialist intervention.
Meanwhile, pop diva Rihanna and chat show queen Oprah Winfrey have joined other celebrities in giving emotive public support to Washington’s posse of Special Forces sent to hunt down African renegade Joseph Kony. The elusive rebel commander shot to notoriety after the release of a documentary film, Kony 2012, which accuses his Lord’s Resistance Army of kidnapping, raping and murdering thousands of children in the jungles of Africa. The outpouring of public anger engendered by the film, made by a little-known charity group Invisible Children, coincided conveniently with President Obama announcing the dispatch of American Special Forces to go after Kony across four African countries: Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
Sceptics have pointed out that the modern-day bounty hunter saga of Kony and the LRA is long out of date. The height of his alleged depredations was 6-10 years ago during the LRA’s guerrilla war against Uganda state forces. In recent years, the LRA has faded into relative obscurity. To suggest that Kony and his rabble of a few hundred fighters present a threat to African state security or American vital interests is risible.
Moreover, the alleged crimes of Kony’s LRA need to be put in perspective. If the fate of kidnapped, child slaves is the genuine motive of charity groups and celebrities, then they would find much greater cause for concern in the hundreds of thousands of African children who are exploited and killed every year in the legalised mining and cocoa growing industries that operate across Central and West Africa. While the mining and chocolat companies cannot be held directly responsible for these "malpractices", this continental-size exploitation of African children is, nonetheless, part of a profit driven economic agenda which is rarely addressed by the so-called "international community".