On November 25, 2011, I wrote an article on the corrosive impact of corruption on Uganda’s economy and society. I observed that corruption and NRM are inextricably interlinked that you cannot eliminate one without eliminating the other.
I concluded that both must go, using peaceful means in the first instance and resorting to war only as a last resort in self-defense.
A few people have contacted me privately to express opposition to my approach insisting that fire must be fought with fire. This group believes that a militarized NRM must be faced by a militarized response in the first instance.
Because so far I have not been convinced to support war, I wish to elaborate on my arguments in favor of peaceful means in the first instance.
My simple argument is that we should use water (peaceful means) to extinguish fire because there is ample evidence that it works, witness Eastern Europe in 1989 against communist dictators. If that fails then we have every justification to resort to war to end the suffering of Ugandans. And our friends and well wishers will understand that and extend a helping hand as appropriate. Why do I insist on peaceful means?
First, I believe that NRM regime is very vulnerable and desperate right now. Its economic, political, social and diplomatic image has plummeted. It has small support in Uganda. The majority of Ugandans now understood that they have been impoverished and now are being dispossessed of their assets especially land. They understand the government has refused to feed our children in schools who are dropping out in large numbers. They understand the government has refused to help create jobs for our youth who are unemployed to the tune of over 80 percent. They understand that Uganda has been divided into many unviable districts so that they can be dominated and exploited by the minority in the NRM regime.
In short, Ugandans are quickly learning that the sorry state they are in is due in large part to a deliberate government policy implemented by an uncaring regime. Therefore, there is massive silent discontent out there potentially ready to lend support to organized and collective opposition peaceful efforts to unseat the regime. Opposition leaders should not let this opportunity pass them by. All they need to do is shed selfishness and power hunger and come together in a joint effort to liberate Uganda.
Second, the experience of war in Uganda in pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods does not have positive outcomes to report. All we remember is the destruction of Bunyoro during resistance to colonial rule, of Mengo in 1966, of Mbarara and Masaka in 1979, of Luwero in 1981 to 1985 and of Northern and Eastern regions of Uganda from 1986 until a few years ago.
Third, because of this destruction in lives, property, institutions and infrastructure, Ugandans should think twice before engaging in another war against a regime that is armed to the teeth and at a time when the international mood is not in favor of war as solving political problems by other means.
Engaging in a just war should be a last resort in self-defense, not the first means of restoring liberty, justice, dignity and democracy. War is an ugly business. Ugandans should draw lessons from those who know war first hand. Dwight D. Eisenhower understood the true nature of war and witnessed “… its brutality, its futility and its stupidity”.
Fourth, I believe that we can subdue the NRM regime without firing a shot which is of supreme importance. The diplomatic crusade that has just begun should be given a chance. It is beginning to work, witness the recent press release by State Department in the United States, scaling down or redirecting aid to Uganda, media and human rights reports condemning human rights violations and massive corruption and calls for corrupt leaders to step down. These are positive signs of diplomacy.
Ipso facto, a just war should be considered only after diplomacy and peaceful attempts have been exhausted and declared a failure. This, however, does not mean that we cannot prepare for war in self defense should that become necessary.
Thus, use of military means must always be the last resort and justified when all peaceful options including diplomacy have failed. We need to remember at all times that the people of Uganda – nationally or regionally – must always be consulted, endorse and participate in one form or another in military action to unseat an unpopular regime.