While claiming that “a decade of war is now ending” last week, Barack Obama was sending the United States military into another war. This time they are being sent into Mali, an impoverished country in Africa. Though we are being told that our military is only providing transport and intelligence assistance to France, which initiated the intervention, it is interesting that Washington (ie. U.S. taxpayers) were immediately called for back-up and funding. While our involvement at the moment is in a limited capacity, it seems this is developing into another undeclared war.
France has already broken its promise to bring a quick end to Islamic rebels advancing toward the capitol. Now, instead of the operation taking a few weeks, France has been forced to send in thousands of troops and have said they will need to remain far longer than projected.
“We are winning in Mali,” French President Francois Hollande said at a news conference Monday, but he added that militants still control parts of the north.
Jim Bittermann reports,
Hollande did not say how long France will maintain troops in its former colony.
The country has 2,150 soldiers on Malian soil, with 1,000 more troops supporting the operation from elsewhere.
The United States has also stepped up its involvement in the conflict by conducting aerial refueling missions on top of the intelligence and airlift support it was already providing.
Britain said Tuesday it will provide military support but won’t take part in combat. The United Kingdom is prepared to deploy up to 40 troops to a European Union military training mission in Mali, and up to 200 troops as trainers in English-speaking West African countries, British Defence Minister Philip Hammond told lawmakers in the House of Commons.
In addition, the European Union said Tuesday it will contribute $67 million to support the African-led International Support Mission to Mali.
With all that is taking place in our country surrounding Benghazi, gun control legislation, and many other manufactured crises, not much is being brought up in the media or in Congress for that matter. We must ask why there is no call to immediately stop using the US military to aide France in Africa. Where is the Constitutional authority for the President of the United States to send our military in as co-combatants with France, even if we are only providing certain services?
Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul weighed in with a response. He wrote in his weekly Texas Straight Talk, “How did we get to Mali? Blowback and unintended consequences played key roles. When the president decided to use the US military to attack Libya in 2011, Congress was not consulted. The president claimed that UN and NATO authority for the use of US military force were sufficient and even superior to any kind of Congressional declaration. Congress once again relinquished its authority, but also its oversight power, by remaining silent. That meant the difficult questions such as why is the action necessary, what would it entail, and what kind of unintended consequences might we see if the operation does not go exactly as planned, were neither asked nor answered.”
“When Gaddafi was overthrown in Libya,” he continued, “many fighters from Mali who had lived in Libya and been trained by Gaddafi’s military returned to their home country with sophisticated weapons and a new determination to continue their fight for independence for northern Mali. Thus the France-initiated action against Libya in 2011 led to new violence and instability in Mali that France decided it must also address. Shortly after the French attack on Mali, rebels in Algeria attacked a BP gas facility in retaliation for their government’s decision to allow foreign military to fly over Algerian territory en route to Mali. Thus the action in Mali to solve the crisis created by the prior action in Libya is turning into a new crisis in Algeria. This is the danger of interventionism and, as we saw in Vietnam more than four decades ago, it threatens to drag the US further into the conflict. And Congress is AWOL.”
Think Paul is only “blowing smoke?” Former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Charles Stith, agrees with him. “Those who sow the wind, reap the whirlwind,” he said.
“In our exuberance to depose the Libyan despot, Gadhafi, we didn’t think through the potential bad consequences,” said Stith, director of the African Presidential Center at Boston University, who is in regular contact with African leaders. “Gadhafi was only able to stay in power as long as he did because of the mercenary force he mobilized. It was clear to many folks in Africa that once he was gone, they would go somewhere else on the continent.”
“There is a reason why the framers of our Constitution placed the authority to declare war strictly with the Legislative Branch of government. They knew well that kings were all too willing to go to war without the consent of those who would do the killing and dying — and funding. By placing that authority in Congress, the people’s branch of government, they intended to blunt the executive branch’s enthusiasm toward overseas adventurism. The consequences of this steady erosion of our system toward the unitary executive are dire.”
By the way, if you were wondering just how much the Obama administration has billed you for our troops being in Mali, I have a starting number. The United States is pledging $96 million, pending congressional approval. That would be in addition to whatever has already been spent in the efforts we are already engaged in.
Finally, there are official reports that the US military is planning to set up a drone base in northwest Africa, near Mali. Should the plans receive a green light, it would mean that up to 300 U.S. military service members and contractors could be sent to operate the drone aircraft.