President Barack Obama is sending about 100 US combat troops to Africa to hunt down and fight the leaders of the Christian rebel militant group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in and around Uganda.
“I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield,” Obama said in letter sent Friday to House Speaker John Boehner. Joseph Kony is the head of the LRA.
Obama’s letter promised that US troops would not engage LRA forces “unless necessary for self-defense.” But considering the deployment’s provocative nature, this caveat is probably meaningless.
“I believe that deploying these US armed forces furthers US national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa,” Obama said. How exactly a poor rebel group in Uganda is a concern for US national security was not specified.
Obama’s claim that the LRA is a legitimate national security concern is presumably supposed to simply be accepted without any evidence or explanation; truth by presidential decree. But it is also notable how quickly and easily, in disregard for the Constitutional requirements, the President can send American troops to far off places without Congressional approval.
Humanitarian intervention was again the hallmark of the justification for this military engagement. Obama noted that the group “has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan,” but the US supports and has supported similar atrocities and chooses to ignore comparable ones in other places, making humanitarian concerns unlikely in this case.
Obama’s military interventions were difficult to count even before this latest engagement. But his administration’s martial proclivities are proving to be vastly more wide-ranging than his hawkish predecessors.