FGF Op-Ed
THE CONFEDERATE LAWYER
February 9, 2018

What on Earth Is the United States Doing in Darkest Africa?

by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

Front Royal, Virginia — Four American soldiers were killed recently in Niger. Most Americans did not know that we had any troops in the field in Africa south of the Sahara Desert or understand the difference between Niger and Nigeria. Other than our disastrous adventure in Libya and a vague awareness of persecutions in Sudan and our military aid to Egypt, I am unaware of any American who has publicly argued that we should have any military involvement in Africa beyond the normal peacetime protection of our embassies and consulates. It is simply wrong to go to war without informing the American people. It is equally wrong to do so without declaring war and without articulating the American interests involved.

It is simply wrong to go to war without informing the American people. It is equally wrong to do so without declaring war and without articulating the American interests involved.

When Charles de Gaulle returned to power in France in 1958, that nation was losing Algeria, as well as its colonies in North Africa. He realized that, for better or for worse, the colonies in West Africa and equatorial Africa would eventually gain independence as well. He wanted France to be a great power, alongside the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. He established and granted independence to a number of French-speaking countries in Africa and guaranteed them military protection. Niger was one of these countries.

The disastrous Wilsonian idea that America has a duty to make the entire world “safe for democracy” … generated a Europe after 1918 that was safe for Hitler and Stalin, not for “democracy.”

The purported reason we should elbow France aside as the major power protecting its former colonies in West and Equatorial Africa. is the disastrous Wilsonian idea that America has a duty to make the entire world “safe for democracy.” This idea generated a Europe after 1918 that was safe for Hitler and Stalin, not for “democracy” (whatever that vague word means).

More recently, [making the world “safe for democracy”] has generated perpetual combat in Afghanistan, which started as part of the Cold War but continues long after most people cannot even remember the Cold War. Today the justification for continued involvement in Afghanistan is clearly incoherent but clearly Wilsonian.

More recently, this notion has generated perpetual combat in Afghanistan, which started as part of the Cold War but continues long after most people cannot even remember the Cold War. Today the justification for continued involvement in Afghanistan is clearly incoherent but clearly Wilsonian. Our wars in Iraq have had a few successes, but these have been dwarfed by its strengthening of our real enemy, Iran. Our involvement in Syria has been disastrous throughout, and we have turned Libya from order to chaos.

Ever since President Truman decided unconstitutionally that we would wage war against North Korea without a declaration of war, we have lived in a twilight zone in which we have waged wars with “authorizations” rather than declarations and “states of emergency” rather than states of war.

The worst effect of the Wilsonian crusade is not, however, the local disasters across the oceans; it is the damage to our Constitution. Our Constitution, which protects us from a powerful central government in peacetime, provides key limits to this protection during war. War, in this sense, is a declaration by both houses of Congress that a state of war exists between us and another country or the delivery by another country to our State Department of a declaration of war between that country and the United States.

We have not had a declaration of war since World War II, but we have engaged in actions that have caused many tens of thousands of combat deaths in activities that are considered as wars for virtually all purposes, including taxation and veterans’ benefits.

Ever since President Truman decided unconstitutionally that we would wage war against North Korea without a declaration of war, we have lived in a twilight zone in which we have waged wars with “authorizations” rather than declarations and “states of emergency” rather than states of war. We have not had a declaration of war since World War II, but we have engaged in actions that have caused many tens of thousands of combat deaths in activities that are considered as wars for virtually all purposes, including taxation and veterans’ benefits.

The result of this approach has been an appalling lack of clarity as to whether we are entitled to our peacetime constitutional protections against federal tyranny.

The Cold War is over. Virtually nobody is still alive who remembers the truly free America of the 1920s. We need to the restore the very real distinctions between war and peace.

Clearly, the President has the authority to legitimately send a few hundred Marines to rescue Americans without putting us in a state of war. These actions, however, only last a few days and do not deprive Americans of any peacetime rights. This exception, however, needs to be strictly limited; it does not include putting troops in the field to help build democracy in some other country.

The Cold War is over. Virtually nobody is still alive who remembers the truly free America of the 1920s. We need to the restore the very real distinctions between war and peace.

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Copyright © 2018 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This article may be reprinted if credit is given to author and fgfBooks.com.

Charles G. Mills, author of The Confederate Lawyer, is the Judge Advocate Emeritus (general counsel) for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts.

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