President Obama is unwilling to engage militarily in Syria. Assad’s butchery has not moved him, nor have the 150,000 deaths produced thus far by the civil war. When Assad and his Hezbollah/Iran backers crossed the “red line” by using chemical weapons, Obama punted. He has even been unwilling to provide meaningful assistance to Assad’s non-radical opponents.
In Iraq, Obama opted for a total U.S. pullout. He appears poised for a similar pullout in Afghanistan, which would mean abandoning those Afghans who put their life on the line to support his surge.
In addition, Obama has thus far turned down requests for arms and other military assistance by the government of Ukraine. He did engage militarily in Libya for a brief time. But that was a NATO operation, sanctioned by the United Nations, in which the U.S. “led from behind.”
Now, Obama has found someone against whom he is willing to commit U.S. troops without NATO. The target is Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord. Pursuant to the War Powers Act, the president has notified Congress that approximately 300 U.S. forces will be deployed to assist in the hunt for Kony. He will also deploy Osprey aircraft. Obama previously had deployed 100 Special Operations troops to assist in the search.
In a sense, Kony is a worthy target. For years, his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has attacked central African villages, mutilating civilians and stealing children.
But according to the Washington Post, LRA attacks have decreased significantly (probably by 75 percent) since 2010. Three of its five commanders have been taken out since 2012, including Kony’s second in command.
It would appear, then, that Obama is participating in a mop-up operation.
Moreover, the Ugandan government recently enacted a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexual conduct. So Obama is putting U.S. troops in harm’s way to chase down a has-been warlord on behalf of a repressive government.
Why? The Post provides this explanation:
Although critics accuse Obama of “weakness” in Syria and the administration has been challenged by Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the Uganda action is a relatively inexpensive way to show resolve in a popular cause.
I would have thought that, because it is so inexpensive, the Uganda operation fails to show resolve. But that thinking is so 19th century.