While many Americans are aware that the United States is at war in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan because of the media attention given to those conflicts, the news that four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger came as a surprise that left some asking the question, “Since when is the U.S. at War with Africa?”
Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright were killed on Oct. 4, after their team was reportedly ambushed by “ISIS-affiliated militants traveling by vehicle, carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.”
Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul weighed in on the situation, and noted that this appears to be one more war the U.S. is fighting without approval from Congress—and it is a war that includes the presence of U.S. troops in 53 out of the 54 nations in Africa.
“Now, when the Pentagon and the administration have had some pressure on them, you know, instead of having 100 people there, they’re admitting we have 6,000 people in Africa, and they even put a number on it. They say ‘we have some military in 53 of the 54 countries in Africa.’ That’s pretty expansive,” Paul said.
While South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a devoted war hawk and member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, initially admitted that he was not aware the U.S. had troops in Niger before news of the attack surfaced, he immediately pledged his support to yet another military conflict created by the United States. “The war is morphing,” Graham said. “You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field.” In response, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took to Twitter to
You know you are in too many wars in too many places when even warmonger Lindsay Graham can’t keep track anymore
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 23, 2017
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">write, “You know you are in too many wars in too many places when even warmonger Lindsay Graham can’t keep track anymore.”
In response to the attack and to the public relations scandal that has followed as Americans learn they are funding military operations in Africa, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford claimed that the U.S. has had troops stationed in Niger "on and off" for more than 20 years with the purpose to "defeat violent extremism in West Africa."
"This area is inherently dangerous," Dunford said. "We're there because ISIS and Al Qaeda are operating in that area."
As Ron Paul noted, the U.S. is still using the Authorization for Use of Military Force that was passed after 9/11 and intended to be used to go after the suspected terrorists responsible for the attacks.
“That’s not unusual for governments to distort and use laws differently than even what Congress says. Congress writes a law and then the executive branch writes regulations, and that same principle applies to foreign policy. They say, ‘Well you can go and do this,’ but there’s no limit. That just initiates it. Nobody even talks about the War Powers Resolution—not that that was the solution, but it was this idea that there was supposed to be a little more oversight after the Vietnam War. But that doesn’t even come up for discussion.”
The AUMF that was passed in 2001 has been used and abused over the last 16 years to fit each and every military conflict the U.S. decides to pursue. Instead of focusing on one group, the U.S. has applied the authorization to any situation in which the trigger phrases Al-Qaeda, ISIS, or Islamic terrorism are included, and U.S. officials are now scrambling to find a way to make that definition fit, in order to justify military presence in Africa.
Watch Ron Paul’s comments in full: