How to explain his formation of his own Afrika Korps?
Money burns a hole in the pocket of some people. Power does the same for some presidents. How else to explain President Barack Obama’s creation of his own variant of Germany’s fabled Afrika Korps, to serve in a small guerrilla war in Uganda?
It has been more than ten years since America was at peace. If President Obama has his way it will be many more years before U.S. troops stop fighting somewhere on earth.
After the demise of the Soviet Union left America as the globe’s dominant power, Washington made war commonplace. Bombing, invading, and occupying other nations became just another policy initiative advanced by presidents on both sides of the partisan aisle.
President George H.W. Bush had Panama and Iraq. President Bill Clinton intervened in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo. President George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama adopted Afghanistan as his own, before adding Libya and now Uganda.
These conflicts had surprisingly little to do with American security. Only Afghanistan — the initial phase, targeting al-Qaeda for 9/11 and punishing the Taliban regime for hosting Osama bin Laden — was a defensive action. The first Gulf War responded to aggression, but not against the U.S.
Most of the other interventions were militarized social work, intervening where the U.S. had little or no plausible security interest. Unfortunately, rarely did the humanitarian consequences match the initial expectations.
Somalia and Haiti look little different than before American military action. U.S. intervention in Kosovo and Iraq sparked additional violence and human rights abuses — including from Washington’s new allies. Bosnia and Kosovo remain unstable quasi-states, held together only by allied pressure.
The nation-building exercise in Afghanistan has no end in sight. U.S. and European officials insist that military withdrawal in 2014 will be followed by even more intensive involvement — for years or decades. The future of Libya, after NATO’s deceitful campaign of regime change conducted in the name of humanitarianism, is anyone’s guess.
Now there’s Uganda. President Obama has sent 100 military personnel to Uganda to help destroy the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army and kill or capture the LRA’s bizarre leader, Joseph Kony. The president explained to Congress: “I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers national security interests and foreign policy.”
Fighting the LRA obviously does not promote American security. To encourage American support, Uganda’s acting Foreign Minister, Henry Okello Oryem, played the T card: “For 20 years, the government Uganda has been pleading with our American and European friends to help in the LRA problem, because these are international terrorists.”
International terrorists? In fact, that’s nonsense: the LRA (mischaracterized as “Christian”) is a garden variety, if extra brutal, insurgent force. Whatever Kony’s ambitions, striking the U.S. is not among them.
The group doesn’t even threaten the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The LRA has committed more than its share of murder and mayhem over the years, but has shrunk dramatically in size and capability. The LRA now is estimated at between 200 and 400 fighters, a tenth the number of just a few years ago — and without any heavy weapons. They are enough to unsettle a province, not destabilize a country, let alone a continent.
What foreign policy interests are allegedly being served? Some in Washington believe that there is nothing in the world which is not a “vital interest” for America. But as the globe’s superpower, the U.S. could — and should — remain aloof from most of the tragic but common conflicts which dot the globe. Especially with its problems at home, Washington should not become the counter-insurgency force for the world.
Yet, the president explained, while U.S. personnel are initially being deployed to Uganda, they are to “provide assistance to regional forces” and could end up in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and/or South Sudan as well. Columnist Michael Gerson argued that “this is not an American humanitarian intervention. It is American aid for an African humanitarian intervention.”
However, Washington already has checked that box. The U.S. has been providing military assistance to Uganda since 2008. This summer Uganda shared with Burundi about $45 million worth of American equipment, including four drones. In 2009 the U.S. Africa Command helped the Ugandan military plan a series of strikes called Operation Lightning Thunder. Washington also has provided aid to militaries from Congo and South Sudan to combat the LRA.
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H/T to National Review Online