Former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says if he were president he'd send special forces to Nigeria to rescue nearly 300 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month whether the Nigerian government wanted to or not. The Daily Beast reports:
"If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country," McCain told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. "I wouldn't be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan," he added, referring to the president of Nigeria.
The U.S. offered to send a team of specialists to help the Nigerian government find and rescue the kidnapped girl, pressuring Nigeria until it definitively accepted the effort. McCain said the U.S. shouldn't wait for Nigeria to ok a military operation because the government "such as it is," would be grateful after the fact, and said it would bring a "high point" of popularity for President Obama.
McCain said he would have the right to act militarily under the United Nations charter, because he considers the kidnapping a "crime against humanity." As The Daily Beast notes, McCain has for a long time consistently been in favor of an aggressively interventionist U.S. foreign policy. Nevertheless, his justification for U.S. action in Nigeria mirrors the kind of justification regularly deployed by the Obama administration, from the intervention in Libya, for which President Obama did not seek authorization from Congress, to the attempted intervention in Syria.
That line of thinking, broadly called "the responsibility to protect," is not so significantly different from the justification for intervention used by more traditional neoconservatives; making the world safe for democracy. Both justifications ignore the constitutional process by which the U.S. ought to make war and conflate U.S. national security interest with broad humanitarian concerns, and both have the effect of expanding the reach of American empire.
Related: read four reasons U.S. intervention in Nigeria would be a bad idea, because McCain won't.