The US is now in a state of permanent undeclared war in large parts of the globe. This has become such a routine practice that people at the highest levels of government, including those charged with oversight of the military, do not know where troops are stationed, how many, and what their purpose is. The US military is like a war virus, quietly spreading over the globe, out of sight from anyone except a few people in the military and the administration.
It takes fiascos like the deaths in Niger to bring these facts to light.
The dispute has revived wider concerns about the fatal incident – in which the US soldiers were killed during an attack on their convoy and five Nigerien soldiers also died – and about America’s role in anti-terror efforts in the west African state. Authorities suspect militants affiliated to the Islamic State were responsible for the ambush. Sgt Johnson was buried in Florida on Saturday.
Conflicting accounts of what led to the attack given by US and Nigerien officials have led members of Congress including John McCain, the Republican chair of the Senate armed services committee, to criticise the Pentagon’s response.
Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, said on Sunday he shared concerns over the contradicting narratives. “At this point we have conflicting stories,” Lankford said on CBS’s Face The Nation. “We want to be able to get the full, accurate story and get it right.”
Lankford’s sentiments were echoed by Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat of New York.
“I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger,” Graham said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “This is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography … You’ve got to tell us more and [McCain] is right to say that.”
Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said he was similarly unaware. Schumer said information being provided by the Trump administration was “not adequate” and should be re-examined. [My emphasisi-MS]
You have to take these claims of ignorance with a grain of salt. As the Niger episode threatens to blow up into a major controversy, people are going to try and distance themselves from it in order to avoid any blame.
But the fact that people like Graham and Schumer can even make claims of ignorance shows how out of control US military involvement in the world is.