Once again, President Obama has ordered U.S. soldiers into harm’s way unnecessarily. Last week, he quietly told the U.S. Congress that he had sent 100 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers into Uganda to help governments in central Africa fight a rebel army that’s been rampaging through the region for more than 20 years. This is the way the Vietnam War started, with U.S. special forces sent to "assist" a barely democratic government cope with a guerrilla war and a president promising they would not be going into combat. Ten years later, with more than 58,000 American lives and untold hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives lost, we had learned a brutal lesson – war is too easily escalated by those who do not have to fight or die.
Now, the president seems determined to repeat history, rather than learn from America’s past. According to news reports, the Pentagon has already shipped $45 million in military equipment to the area, including four drone aircraft. The same kind of drones are already being used to bomb targets in Palestine, Yemen, Libya, and who knows where else. The United States has been providing military aide and advisers, to Uganda and other nations in the region, to battle these rebels since George W. Bush was in office. Does America really need another war right now? We can’t even afford the ones we’ve got already!
To make matters worse, rather than meeting its Constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on unbridled presidential power, Congress has aided and abetted yet another foreign interventionist adventure. It was one of those unheralded bipartisan bills, quietly passed with huge support in both houses of Congress and signed by the President in May 2010. Congress not only made it U.S. policy to: "apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield … and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord’s Resistance Army fighters," but also directed the president to come up with a plan and strategy to "eliminate" the threat.
President Obama’s order is merely a continuation of the interventionist and imperialist foreign policy supported by presidents and Congressmen from both major political parties. Once again they have sent Americans into danger in a foreign land in the name of "humanitarian relief" and "national security." I am beginning to detect a pattern. Whether it is Libya or Uganda, or seemingly anywhere the ruling elites in America care to send brave young volunteers, it is warmly wrapped in the patriotic garb of humanitarian relief and national security.
And just how big a threat are African rebels to U.S. national security? According to Uganda military sources, the group now only has between 200 to 400 fighters, and their forces are fractured and scattered. A threat to U.S. national security? Seriously?
To claim that less than 500 "fractured and scattered" rebels constitutes a threat to the security of our nation, as President Obama has done, is beyond ridiculous; it is a pathetic and blatant attempt to justify putting the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces in danger overseas for political gain at home. Nor is this a "humanitarian crisis." The governments of the nations we’re aiding have checkered histories themselves. In Uganda, for example, homosexuality is a crime and the national legislature has considered making it punishable by death.
The LRA may be a band of vicious, brutal, ruthless thugs. Their leader – Joseph Kony – may be a very evil man. But at the risk of sounding callous – it is not our responsibility. America is not capable of eradicating every evil in the world. We cannot do it and should not try. We have enough to deal with here at home. We certainly should not be sacrificing our dearest blood to this fight in the hopes of seeing the lesser of two evils prevail. We should not be supporting evil at all.
In the 19th and 20th centuries British colonialists and imperialists proudly proclaimed, "The sun never sets on the British Empire." Today we can sadly say that the sun never sets on the U.S. military. We have spread ourselves too thinly trying to ring the world with too few troops, at a devastating economic and human cost. It is time we face the reality that America just can’t afford worldwide empire.
America should always respect and honor the sacrifice made by all those who volunteer for military service. We should support all of our troops all the time, and support them in the best and most honorable way possible — by not sending them to war in the first place, unless it is to defend the United States from attack. America is indeed the home of the brave and as a nation we should never do anything to disrespect or dishonor that courage.
It is long-past time to bring the brave home, and never again send them into harm’s way capriciously, unnecessarily, for political gain or to line the pockets of those who profit from their sacrifice. The world needs the goods and services Americans can potentially produce more than it needs a promise of planetary protection from evil that America can’t possibly provide. We need prosperous patriots more than we need hallowed heroes.
"War is just one more big government program."
– Joseph Sobran