United Liberty – by Jason Pye
President Barack Obama came a step closer to engaging in military action in Mali. The Associated Press reports this morning that the White House has notified Congress that 100 military personnel have been sent to Niger, which borders Mali to the east:
In a letter to Congress, Obama says the forces will focus on “intelligence sharing” with French troops fighting Islamist militants in neighboring Mali. He says the American forces have been deployed with weapons, quote, “for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security.”
The U.S. and Niger signed agreement last month spelling out legal protections and obligations of Americans who might operate from the African nation. But U.S. officials declined at the time to discuss specific plans for a military presence in Niger.
The French military has been battling Islamic militants in Mali, but they’re expected to begin a troop withdrawal in the next month, turning over operations to African military forces. This withdrawal comes despite new skirmishes with radicals.
Even though the presence of American troops in the region is small, we’re involved in yet another conflict with against a forces who don’t represent any real threat to us. Not to mention that it’s another undeclared war, as Ron Paul recently explained, with a good risk of escalating.
It’s unclear if President Obama will ask for congressional approval should our presence exceed 90 days, per the War Powers Act. But given his proclivity for ignoring constitutional boundaries, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.