It’s not as though the president had any military experience before taking office, so it’s not exactly surprising that, considering recent events, Senators have realized that we don’t have much of a clear policy framework when it comes to overseas military operations — and they’re angry about it.
The occasion for the question of what our actual policy is to arise is the recent death of four American soldiers in Niger. President Trump has turned the issue of those soldiers’ deaths into an issue of public image alone, raging for days on end against a Florida Congresswoman who criticized his response to the deaths.
However, above the issue of Trump’s public image there remains the actually relevant issue of what those soldiers were doing there in the first place, both acutely, meaning why they were left without protection, and in general, meaning why they were even in Niger. Not many individuals — Senators included — even knew, before this incident, that we had troops there at all.
So what are our troops in Niger doing there? That’s the information that Senators want in the wake of four soldiers’ seemingly entirely preventable deaths.
Senator Lindsay Graham, who is among those who said they didn’t even know we had troops in Niger, commented to reporters recently, in part, as follows:
‘We’re going to build on what President Obama did in some of these countries. We’re probably going to go to other places because that’s where the enemy is taking us. We’re going to be aggressive. So that means that the Congress has to be more informed so we can decide whether or not we buy off on all this.’
Sen. Graham’s associate, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, was similarly critical of the national leadership’s seeming lack of comprehensive overseas military policy, telling reporters recently that “we have no strategy” but “we want to know everything.”
The outrage with a seeming lack of direction for the U.S. overseas, thanks in no small part to our utterly incompetent commander in chief, is shared by Democrats too.
Speaking to a problem that’s familiar to those who have followed U.S. foreign policy for some time, Connecticut’s Sen. Chris Murphy commented, in part:
‘It seems we have absolutely no plan for what happens after we push ISIS firmly out of the cities. ISIS isn’t going to go away. They are simply going to wait until the reconstruction and efforts at political settlement fail to reemerge.’
As for answers from the administration to these Senators’ question of what exactly we are doing overseas, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. of the Pentagon said recently that the U.S. mission in Africa is to “advise and assist.”
‘On the African continent, we’re engaged with a variety of partner nations building… counterterrorist capacity… There are a variety of nations there that we do that. Our missions are advise and assist. We’re not directly involved in combat operations… we want to get to the point where local nations… are going to be able to deal with the problem themselves.’
In the midst of all of this controversy, the commander-in-chief is nowhere to be found, spending all his free time either golfing or tweeting.
Featured Image via TASOS KATOPODIS/ Stringer/ AFP/ Getty Images