President Obama Acknowledges Waging War in Somalia and Yemen in Latest War Powers Report; No End in Sight for War on Terror



In his latest biannual War Powers letter to Congress, President Obama reports that U.S. forces are engaged in military operations in both Somalia and Yemen, or, in his words:

In a limited number of cases, the U.S. military has taken direct action in Somalia against members of al-Qa'ida, including those who are also members of al-Shabaab, who are engaged in efforts to carry out terrorist attacks against the United States and our interests.

The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula.

This is the first mention of military operations in Somalia or Yemen in a War Powers letter from this president, even though the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was killed by a Predator drone in Yemen last year. America's secret wars in Africa are no secret, either, with reports of drone strikes in Somalia going back almost a year, at least, not to mention the military intervention in 2007, when backed by the U.S. and neighboring African countries, Ethiopian troops entered Somalia to oust al-Shabab from Mogadishu.

Elsewhere in the report: about 90,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan and there are 2,748 detainees being remanded to local authorities over the next several months. There are 169 detainees in Guantanamo. 693 military personnel are stationed in Egypt, part of a contingent there since 1981, and 817 in Kosovo, part of a contingent that's been there since 1999. About 90 U.S. troops are advising local forces in Uganda, South Sudan (the recently independent country at war with Sudan), the Congo, and the Central African Republic on trying to root out Joseph Kony's LRA. The president reports the United States has "completed its responsible withdrawal" from Iraq, and special operations forces rescued an American woman captured by Somali pirates.

As for the end of the war on terror? "It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States," the president writes, but: "A classified annex to this report provides further information."

More Reason on war and the war on terror

Reason.TV: "Are Drone Strikes and Kill Lists the New Normal?"

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  1. Perpetual war for peace! Yay!

    Technically, would drones be legal no matter where we use them since the Pres doesn't have to deploy people abroad? I can't recall the exact War Powers requirement, but it does have to do with troops being deployed. No troops, no reporting, right?

    1. Jesus, if you're gonna quote John, at least make a citation.

      1. I'm just thinking aloud here. I'm thinking indiscrimate use of drones doesn't violate the War Powers act because of the deployemnt issues. I'm not saying it might not violate other laws, or common human decency for that matter.

      2. "Something something, WoT, you are a racist."

        I still like John and think find his misspellings rather endearing so fuck off...

        1. Can you run that through google translate and resubmit it, please?

          1. Sorry, please remove the superfluous word 'think' you capacious cunt and it will sense.

    2. Technically, murdering foreign nationals or US citizens is legal no matter what means the President uses to commit the murder.

      Technically, murderous drone attacks on foreign nationals or US citizens are illegal because they are not a power granted to the President under Article 2, Section 8.

      1. er, "illegal" rather....

      2. You're mixing articles. If I wanted to make the argument, Congress has the ability to define and punish Offences aaginst the Law of Nations, which they would presumably hand over to the executive to carry out. So by the overbroad language of the AUMF, the Prez has the legal authority to do something about terrorists.

        The exact boundaries of that something are the issue.

        1. He could issue letters of marquee and reprisal and effectively put bounties on the heads of known terrorists. It'd be much easier and more cost-effective than playing whac-a-mole with the drone stikes.

    3. Killing people in theaters unrelated to a declared war or emergency without a national purpose (choosing sides in a civil war for instance) is still a high crime, technically speaking and all that. The presidency is not a license to murder bestowed upon one lucky individual by the American people.

  2. So, it's not just drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia? We have troops there?

    Why does this remind me of Vietnam, when Johnson expanded the war effort into Laos and Cambodia?

    1. Somehow he forgot the part in 50 USC 1543 (a) (3) (A and B), where he's supposed to report (A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
      (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place;

      1. To Congress, re: 50 USC 1543(a)(3)(A and B):

        A. Because fuck you, that's why.
        B. Because fuck you, that's why.

        Signed, BHO

        1. Yeah, I kinda thought that answer was obvious, myself.

          1. Ah... remember all those sunshine "libertarians" who voted for OBomber last time out, on the grounds that he would not be "a warmonger?" Remember how insufferably smug they unfailingly were, whenever parroting that particularly odious rationale?

            I do.

  3. What about this, for dealing with AQ in Yemen, etc.

    Go to the local strongman/"government" and say: "You claim to be the sovereign, well, being sovereign means you are responsible for what happens on your turf.

    Here's some money. I advise you spend it getting rid of AQ and whoever else, because we are holding you responsible for their next attack on any American. If it comes from your country, you own it."

    1. And then what?

      Add in some ICBMs aimed at their capital, and you might get somewhere...

      Military threats have to be credible, and they have to be convincing, if they are to be effective.

      I mean, the Norks threaten to kill us all, every few days, and it doesn't even make the news.

      1. And then what?

        Well, lets say they blow my bribe on hookers and blow, and AQ stages an attack on Americans from their little sandhill of a country.

        I'm pretty sure that we have the military force to get rid of the current strongman and his cabal. They generally don't have anything that would even be called an "army" by current standards.

        Rinse and repeat. Although if we do a thorough job of it the first time, we may only have to do it once.

        Naturally, a WMD attack would be met under current "eye-for-an-eye" doctrine which posits that any such attack will be met with nuclear fire.

        Under my approach, we forego this tedious chasing after goat-shaggers in caves. Leave that to the professional goat-shaggers.

        The ROE if we do have to go after the local government would be much more, err, realistic, as well.

        I should point out that I really can't see any difference between my approach and sloopy's, except I am willing to bow to local custom by providing a bribe.

        1. I don't object to your solution. I just don't think they'll believe us. Maybe I'm wrong.

          Someone like Saddam, maybe. A diffuse group of wackos, like the Taliban, maybe not.

      2. As you would expect from a lawyer, I am basically trading on the legal fiction of sovereignty.

        If you're sovereign, you are responsible for everything that happens in your country.

        Its not our job to keep your local nutters in hand, or chase them down if they go off the reservation. Its yours. Our business is with you, sovereign dude.

        This was pretty much stage 1 of the Afghanistan war. If we had done it this way, and left, then I suspect we would have had to go in one more time. The total cost to us of even two punitive expeditions would have been much less than our failed nation-building has been.

        1. I can't disagree with you, there.

          Also, if the government of a country goes after AQ or equivalent as criminals, then that's fine, too. Legitimate efforts to eliminate AQ will buy the sovereign government some time, at least.

          WRT nation-building, to put what you wrote more bluntly, it seems that the most cost-effective way to "nation build" is to blow away the old regime, then leave and see what happens. If we don't like it, we go blow away the new one.

          Surely some will object, but it certainly doesn't seem worse than what we're doing now, especially with the douchebags who end up running places like Afghanistan under our nation-building schemes.

    2. Or how about this: we just leave them all alone, and take out an ad in every paper in the middle east that says the following:

      "We are leaving your part of the world. We hope to engage in legitimate trade with you and hope that you prosper as nations and people. We wish you no harm and hope you feel the same way. We will never attack you unless you injure or attempt to injure us. The first sign of attack or assault on any American interest, at home or abroad, we will wage total war on the nation from which it originated until that nation is wiped from the face of the earth. We do not want to do this, so please prevent it from happening and we can all live in peace.

      Good Luck, and we will be sending some empty oil tankers into the Gulf sometime next Tuesday for our usual order.

      Warmest Personal Regards,

      The United States Of America"

      1. A threat of total war would not be credible until someone actually saw us do it, again.

        Who's going to be the lucky example in your scenario?

        1. Who's going to be the lucky example in your scenario?

          They all know what we did to Iraq and Afghanistan using perhaps 1/10 or our ability and military might. My guess is nobody would be the lucky example because they know what the result of attacking us would be.

          1. That's right. 1/10 of our ability, and rules of engagement that hamstrung us much of the time. That's what we do. Someone might look at that and think they might be willing to play the odds, especially if they have more resources than stone-age Afghanistan and Iraq after years of sanctions.

            What's going to convince them that we'd actually wage total war?

            1. Somebody ever detonates a nuke on US soil and the lucky winner's gonna find out the hard way.

      2. Nah I thoink we should give the proles in each of those countries time to make good. Say they get 30 days notice before we attack, during which they can turn over the perpetrators of any attack on the US over to the nearest US Embassy no strings attached to prevent the attack.

        1. This makes sense. I wish to amend my letter.

          1. Had we not fucked the Iraqi rebels the first time we were there, this might have some merit.

            As it stands, I think that those now-dead Iraqis will scare the proles more than American threats.

            Again, to make that work, you have to be in a position to make credible promises on both sides of the threat coin.

            1. This is true and honestly I don't think America has the stomach to really wage "unlimited" war anymore and that is not entirely a bad thing however the alternatives are not necessarily any prettier. That said the best possible solution is to just not worry about it, let them attack us, catch as many of them as possible in the act and deal with them as common criminals and accept that they will be successful with the occasional attack then clobber the shit out of them with soft power and destroy their culture from the inside.

              1. Unfortunately the US is still not close enough to the Assad government. Don't worry, they're getting there.

      3. The final solution the the Muslim question.

  4. Why don't we have a war on furniture?

    As many Americans are killed by their own furniture as by terrorists, annually.

    1. I've been known to fight furniture after a few beers.

      1. Who wins?

        1. Depends on how many beers. I'm not ashamed to admit the furniture has won on occasion.

          1. My advice: fight the Ikea, not the Stickley.

            1. Particle board is much easier to defeat than solid wood, that's all I'm sayin'.

              1. Ikea uses that honeycomb shit. It can take a beating. It doesn't have much to hurt you, but it will wear you out. Then you fall over, and hit your head on it and it breaks your neck.

                Damned Swedes.

    2. The peace-loving Swedes are kind enough to make furniture that will fall apart as soon as it touched you.

      1. I hit Submit and found that, clearly, we had the same thought at the same moment... Funny!

  5. I think this is definitive:

    Even Adam Sandler movies have more substantive and meaningful content than this letter to Congress.

  6. Obama needs to start a war on public unions. They are bankrupting us. It's a war I don't mind goes on forever.

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