The idea that Americans can only speak out if they have 20 years of experience on the ground is as silly as it is undemocratic. Citizens have every right to express concerns about a tragedy far from our shores while expecting that appropriate expertise will be brought to bear by their elected officials.
Invisible Children have never been cut from the traditional Washington cloth — their advocacy is designed to appeal to young Americans. The group’s strength lies in their ability to connect with folks outside the beltway about something that doesn’t have a direct or immediate impact on American lives. To this end, Invisible Children has succeeded. They’ve connected with and inspired millions of Americans to be active and engaged on an issue that has historically been on the periphery, at best, of American foreign policy priorities.
Their grassroots mobilization contributed overwhelmingly to the passage of The 2009 LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act — the most widely cosponsored bill Africa-related piece of legislation in the last 37 years — and more generally to the ongoing prioritization the LRA throughout State and USAID, as well as to the President’s decision to deploy U.S. military advisors to central Africa. Of equal importance is that Invisible Children also supports an innovative radio program in the remote regions of eastern Congo. This program collects information about LRA movements, abductions, and defections and is often better and more up-to-date than the information obtained by the United States government.