Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is disgusted with many of his colleagues in the US Senate right now. He’s trying to call attention to the fact that there are more than 1,000 American soldiers engaged in combat operations in Niger, of all places, right now. Last Thursday, the Senate voted 86 to 11 to keep them there, despite the fact that Congress never authorized sending US troops to Niger in the first place. Most Americans are not even aware that we have troops fighting in Niger.
Sen. Paul asked, “Shouldn’t we at least avoid wars of choice? Shouldn’t we at least not go looking for trouble in every corner of the planet?”
We thought that American troops were especially busy back in the days when Barack Obama was conducting wars against only seven countries at one time. Joe Biden, according to Sen. Paul, now has US soldiers engaged in combat operations in 20 different countries. Since the Constitution was ratified, the US has only had 17 years of peace—and we just had four of them when Donald Trump was in office.
Both Republican and Democrat presidents (with the notable exception of Trump) have used the September 11th authorization for the use of military force as the justification for rushing American men and women into harm’s way, in countries that serve no interest whatsoever to the US. Congress has completely abdicated its role as the branch of our government that can declare war on other countries to the Executive branch.
Are we better off for this? Were the 13 servicemembers who were murdered during Joe Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal better off for it? Are their families better off?
Barack Obama originally set up a drone base in Niger back in 2013, which most Americans don’t even know. The base was used to launch drone strikes in Libya and multiple other countries in Africa. That same base has now become the center of US combat operations in Niger, after a coup that took place back in July.
Members of the democratically elected president’s own personal guard, including officers who were trained by the US military, ousted President Mohamed Bazoum. The country is now ruled by a military junta, with multiple militia groups vying for power. Those same militia groups, by the way, are heavily armed thanks to Barack Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Sahel is the entire region across Africa that basically surrounds Niger. It includes Libya, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin. And Joe Biden has now boosted the American combat troop presence in the region up to 1,000 US soldiers—who are surrounded on every side by unknown militants. Sen. Paul says they’ve already been in firefights with the militant groups, despite not even knowing which ones they are fighting and no clear policy goal from the White House or the Pentagon.
Not to be rude about it, but Niger is a bit of a dump, and it serves no US interest at all to even be there. It’s a landlocked country that exported $852 million worth of goods last year, more than half of which was gold. They don’t even export the gold to America. The amount of oil in Niger is extremely low, and they don’t have any refining capacity to make it worth doing business there. America has no vital national security interest or economic interest in Niger.
Is it worth having 1,000 American troops in harm’s way in this country right now? 86 members of the US Senate appear to think so.