Niger

The Truth About Niger

Jihadists would be no threat to Americans who were left to mind their own business.

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Zayid Ballesteros/US Army / Polaris/Newscom

Predictably, the news media spent most of last week examining words Donald Trump may or may not have spoken to the widow of an American Green Beret killed in Niger, in northwest Africa, in early October. Not only was this coverage tedious, it was largely pointless. We know Trump is a clumsy boor, and we also know that lots of people are ready to pounce on him for any sort of gaffe, real or imagined. Who cares? It's not news.

But it was useful to those who wish to distract Americans from what really needs attention: the U.S. government's perpetual war.

The media's efforts should have been devoted to exploring—really exploring—why Green Berets (and drones) are in Niger at all. (This is typical of the establishment media's explanation.) That subject is apparently of little interest to media companies that see themselves merely as cheerleaders for the American Empire. For them, it's all so simple: a U.S president (even one they despise) has put or left military forces in a foreign country—no justification required; therefore, those forces are serving their country; and that in turn means that if they die, they die as heroes who were protecting our way of life. End of story.

Thus the establishment media see no need to present a dissenting view, say, from an analyst who would question the dogma that inserting American warriors into faraway conflicts whenever a warlord proclaims his allegiance to ISIS is in the "national interest." Patriotic media companies have no wish to expose their audiences to the idea that jihadists would be no threat to Americans who were left to mind their own business.

Apparently the American people also must be shielded from anyone who might point out that the jihadist activity in Niger and neighboring Mali is directly related to the U.S. and NATO bombing of Libya, which enabled al-Qaeda and other Muslim militants to overthrow the secular regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. That Obama-Clinton operation in 2011, besides producing Qaddafi's grisly murder and turning Libya into a nightmare, facilitated the transfer of weapons and fanatical guerrillas from Libya to nearby countries in the Sahel — as well as Syria. Since then the U.S. government has been helping the French to "stabilize" its former colony Mali with surveillance drones and Green Berets based in Niger. Nice work, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. (Citizen Trump was an early advocate of U.S. intervention in Libya.) Need I remind you that the U.S./NATO regime-change operation in Libya was based on a lie? Obama later said his failure to foresee the consequences of the Libya intervention was the biggest mistake of his presidency. (For more on the unintended consequences for the Sahel, see articles here, here, and here.)

So the media, which pretends to play a role in keeping Americans informed, have decided the people need not hear the truth behind the events in Niger. Instead, "reporters" and "analysts" perform their role as cheerleaders for the American Empire by declaring the dead men "heroes" and focusing on the tragedy that has befallen their families. Public scrutiny of the military operation is discouraged because it thought to detract from the Green Berets' heroism.

What makes them heroes? They were killed by non-Americans in a foreign land while wearing military uniforms. That's all it takes, according to the gospel of what Andrew Bacevich calls the Church of America the Redeemer and its media choir.

But are they really heroes? We can question this while feeling sorrow for the people who will never see their husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers again. Reporters and analysts who emote over alleged heroism base their claim on the dubious proposition that the men were "serving their country" and "protecting our freedom." A brief examination, however, is enough to show this is not so, although the troops, their families, and many others believe it.

First, their "country," if by this term we mean the American people, did not call them to "service," which itself a question-begging word. The source of the call was a collection of politicians and bureaucrats (including generals) who wouldn't know the public interest from a hole in the ground.

Second, U.S. intervention in the Muslim world, which predates 9/11 and the creation of al-Qaeda and ISIS, has not made Americans safe. On the contrary, it has put them at risk, as the attacks on the World Trade Center demonstrated. Is it hard to believe that people will seek vengeance against those whose government bombs them and starves their children, as the U.S. government did in Iraq all through the 1990s (to take just one example)?

Dying (and killing) for the Empire is not heroic. Allowing yourself to be ordered to intervene in distant conflicts you surely don't understand is not worthy of admiration. What's heroic is resisting the Empire.

Anyone who thought Trump would bring the troops back should now know better. He, of all people, is not about to give up imperial power. The Guardian quotes a former military officer saying, "Since [President] Trump took power, US forces deployed around the world have had a lot more room to manoeuvre. Decisions about when and what to engage have been devolved right down to unit level. Any soldier knows that if you give guys on the ground more independence, then they will be that much more aggressive and will take more risks."

At this point we can't expect the corporate media to quit propagandizing on behalf of the war state and start informing the public of the harm "their" government has inflicted abroad and at home. Fortunately, we have virtually costless access to alternative sources of information about the politicians' and military's mischief. The conundrum is that most people, having been fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda, won't turn to those sources until they become suspicious of power.

This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.

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76 responses to “The Truth About Niger

  1. No comments? This may be the first time I’ve read a Richman article here on reason that hasn’t been followed by 100’s of personal insults, accusations of liberal bias, conspiracy theorizing (usually involving something about the Jews), references to the illusive Reason reporter / left wing propagandist cocktail party circuit and barely legible collections of profanity in a manner that defies even the most generous understanding of English grammar. Is there a Milo speech or klan rally somewhere?

    1. This may be the first time I’ve read a Richman article here on reason that hasn’t been followed by 100’s of personal insults

      that’s awful. what do people say about you?

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      2. “that’s awful. what do people say about you?”

        I’m more inclined to believe it’s a Hihn sock; Mike’s been pulling that sort of crap recently.
        Hey, Mike! Fuck off!
        Is that ‘legible’?

        1. You can tell it isn’t Hihn because he didn’t respond to his own post 5 times with different accounts to agree with himself.

    2. Nice try commie. You do know that Milo and the Klan are actually left-wing organizations. In fact everyone who is not me is a progressive stooge who hates god, America (hallowed be thy name), the troops, and both Apple and cherry pie.

    3. Like a broken clock that is right twice a day, it may be because this particular piece by Richman isn’t utterly batsh*t crazy, oozing with anti-American hatred, self-satisfied smugness, and its own set of (projected ?) conspiracy theories. Its just merely stupid, showcasing his near-Asperger’s-like tone deafness.

      On the other hand, I could be wrong, because as usual, I stopped reading midway through.

    4. I am enraged with butthurt at the commentariat!

      1. Do not fear, grasshopper. Raging butthurt always become balanced by insightful snark in the end.

    5. All us true Libertarians, such as myself, are out getting fucked up because it’s the weekend.

      1. All us true Libertarians, such as myself, are out getting fucked up because it’s the weekendalways.

        FTFY

        1. There’s a difference between True Libertarians, such as myself, and the platonic ideal of Libertarian, A.K.A Mike Riggs.

    6. Just for the record, I generally agree with Richmond and this article is dead on correct in my opinion. It’s hard for me to imagine a greater violation of the non aggression principle than waging war to perpetuate an empire. Commenters who defend this shit are not libertarians.

      1. Commenters who defend this shit are not libertarians.

        for clarity, cite whom you are referring to.

        fwiw, a few questions:

        – who are we ‘waging war’ against in this instance?
        – you consider Niger part of the American “Empire”? Strange that i can’t remember the last time our african colonies were mentioned in the news.

  2. It must really suck to be stationed there.

  3. The source of the call was a collection of politicians and bureaucrats (including generals) who wouldn’t know the public interest from a hole in the ground.

    okay, I larfed.

    1. But, like Dalton Wilcox, Cowboy Poet, they are equally like to fuck either one.

      1. *likely

  4. “Fortunately, we have virtually costless access to alternative sources of information about the politicians’ and military’s mischief.”

    What are these sources? Sheldon, whom I wager has never set foot in Niger, links to several articles by himself, some by Salon, BBC etc. Niger is remote and I don’t see a lot of information readily available.

    1. I don’t know much about Niger, but I know that no one else knows, either!

      1. “but I know that no one else knows, either”

        There are lots who know about Niger, and not only Nigerites. I just don’t see this virtually costless access to them.

        1. Now that I think about it, where’s this costless access to the ozone layer?

          That’s how I figured out global warming is real.

            1. I’m a giver.

      2. Niger is on the other side of the planet from American Samoa. Has Congress declared war on Niger?

    2. Let me clarify. Contrary to Republican geography experts, Niger is NOT the capital of Kenya. Now can we stop putting those young men in harms way to please the Senate Geriatric Ward?

      1. Calm down, everyone knows Niger is the capital of Montenegro.

        1. No, it’s the capitol of Nigeria

          1. No, dummy! That’s Nigeria City!

      2. Hank Phillips|10.22.17 @ 12:37PM|#
        “Let me clarify….”

        Bad move, Hank. It always means you’re going to prove you don’t know what you’re posting about.

  5. I still find it hard to believe that the consequences of overthrowing Qaddafi were truly unforeseen by our intelligence professionals. If I could foresee (in general terms) the chaos that would follow, they surely could. No, I have to conclude that they did foresee it, and simply didn’t care. Qaddafi, like Saddam before him, was about to commit the one unforgivable sin: he was going to price his oil in something other than U.S. dollars. Saddam Hussein was selling his oil for euros rather than dollars; not long after, Iraq was invaded and his government overthrown. Libya was about to start pricing its oil in gold, specifically the “gold dinars” that Qaddafi was minting, but any gold would do, I expect, and would have been turned into more gold dinars. The U.S. couldn’t tolerate that, and to hell with what the consequences of removing Qaddafi would be. The stories of actual or impending civilian massacres in Libya were as phony as the stories of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were not mistakes, but willful lies. When Qaddafi was about to eliminate the last of the rebels, that’s when the U.S. declared a “no-fly zone” and stopped him. The world is still paying the price.

    1. “””””I still find it hard to believe that the consequences of overthrowing Qaddafi were truly unforeseen by our intelligence professionals.”””

      When have our “intelligence professionals” ever foreseen anything? I don’t have any inside information but from the outside our “intelligence professionals” simply figure out what the politicians want to hear and repeat that back to them.

      So for 80 plus billion dollars the US gets nothing useful. Time to do a complete audit on these agencies and start cutting spending.

      1. “I don’t have any inside information but from the outside our “intelligence professionals” simply figure out what the politicians want to hear and repeat that back to them.”

        You don’t need inside information to know this is untrue. On Iran, for example, the CIA has refused to shape its findings to suit presidential tastes.

        1. I simultaneously know that I can’t know what’s going on in some remote, distant region of the world, while at the same time knowing everything I need to know about it.

          No blood for oil!

          1. ” I can’t know what’s going on in some remote, distant region of the world,”

            In no sense is Washington, home of the POTUS and the CIATUS, a remote, distant region of the world, but the centre of a globe spanning empire.

            1. But how could they possibly know what’s happening somewhere else in the remote world?

              That’s how I know they’re wrong!

              1. “But how could they possibly know what’s happening somewhere else in the remote world?”

                It’s not magic. They have things like telephones and a lot of money, damn their eyes.

                1. I don’t see that in front of me right now!

                  And I assume everything I can’t see doesn’t exist!

                  1. You should know this about trueman:
                    He runs a blog that gets one or two hits a week, so he shows up here in the hopes someone clicks on the name by mistake and doubles the hit-count for the week. We typically get dense, confusing prose which could be mistaken for profundity, except for this:

                    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
                    “Spouting nonsense is an end in itself.”

                    He’s not real bright.

        2. Yeah but for GW’s war in Iraq not so much.

    2. What intelligence professionals foresee, and what their politically appointed bosses report to the politicians who appoint them, are often quite different.
      In addition, as you pointed out, the politicians frequently don’t care; at least not beyond the next election or sound bite.

  6. “BENGHAZ…….”(notices party affiliation of current president)…..”oh. Nevermind….”

  7. So Americans carrying government guns are killed in places on the other side of the planet… places the Republican and Democratic party politicians are still eager to bomb and occupy? This is certainly a surprise!

    1. I will bet your next paycheck that there are no plans, nor any desire, to actually occupy Niger.
      I have yet to see a cited, reliable source that the US dropped bombs is Niger.
      However, your post is no surprise.

  8. What is news is the lie John Kelly made up about that Congresswoman, the fact that Trump lied about that lie and his delusional lying Whitehouse press secretary. I don’t give a fuck about your politics but if you’re a fucking liar on the level this Trump Whitehouse lies or if you excuse these lies, back them up or even ignore them then something is seriously fucking wrong with you.

    1. Yeah, woman in cowboy hat gets 15 minutes of fame is real news. Dead people in Niger is a silly distraction.

      1. Memory Hole is badly afflicted with TDS.
        I guess you could cut some slack, but naaah. Assholes like that deserve every pile of shit we can use to bury them.

  9. Qaddafi was killed because of the gold dinar and The Great Manmade River.

    1. And his death killed disarmament forever. He disarmed himself of nukes and look what happened to him. Good luck getting anybody else to agree to do so.

      1. Pursuing nukes and not getting invaded only works if you are on the right side (Israel) or you have a neighbor like China supporting you. The invasion of Iran is still on the table but then again Saudi will have them soon.

        The overthrow of Ghadaffi made no sense but it did spawn “smart power” and “leading from behind”.

  10. “The conundrum is that most people, having been read the paragraph ‘Dying (and killing) for the Empire is not heroic. Allowing yourself to be ordered to intervene in distant conflicts you surely don’t understand is not worthy of admiration’, won’t turn to those sources ever again.”

    FTFY

  11. Well, we clearly need to stay out of Niger and Malian affairs. And we need to open our doors to economic and political refugees from those places. Yeah.

  12. “Is it hard to believe that people will seek vengeance against those whose government bombs them and starves their children, as the U.S. government did in Iraq all through the 1990s (to take just one example)?”

    Those poor, innocent, TOTALLY HARMLESS Iraqis!

    1. Fascist governments made up of nominally Muslim people are innocent and at a higher moral level than any state founded on the Judeo-Christian culture of Western Europe in Richman’s eyes. Saddam and Qaddafi obviously did nothing wrong.

      1. I don’t know or care whether the Baathists were Fascists, Muslims, or Crypto-Anarchists: all I know is that Saddam didn’t get Kuwait’s signature on the positive consent form before he sent his troops there for a little early spring vacay. And yet to hear Richman tell it, we were the Biff Tannen to Saddam Hussein’s Marty McFly.

        1. I have no idea what the final references are intended to show (other than some signalling?).
          But are you suggesting that the US *should* have been involved in that mess? I’ve yet to find any rational political theory which says the US should.

          1. I wasn’t implying anything about whether the US should or should not have been in Kuwait, because that wasn’t what I was commenting on.

            My “signalling” was in response to the above quoted passage from Richman’s article: “Is it hard to believe that people will seek vengeance against those whose government bombs them and starves their children, as the U.S. government did in Iraq all through the 1990s (to take just one example)?”

            …which implied that America was bombing poor little Iraq for no reason, just to be mean. As if Saddam had just been minding his own business when we attacked him unprovoked. Regardless of one’s opinion on America playing world policeman, the idea that Iraq was a “victim” of US “aggression” in the 90s, as Richman seems to imply with that passage, is laughable.

            1. Has it occurred to you that there is a difference between the Iraqis and the Iraqi governemnt? If the government of my country decides to invade a neighboring country, and as a result, a third country invades my country, which results you, as an agent of that third country, stomping around my neighborhood with automatic weapons and kicking down my door, if I get the opportunity to blow your head off or gut you like a fish, I’m going to take it. I don’t care if your government has an issue with my government; if you come at my family, I want you dead. That is why violence begets violence.

              1. If the government of the country you live in attacks and invades one of its neighbors unprovoked, you don’t get to complain when other countries respond in kind. You can blow off as many heads as you want, it doesn’t make the objection legitimate. There can be no response to invasion but counter-attack, and collateral damage is inevitable- and that’s just in regards to Iraqis that objected to the invasion. Iraqis that supported the invasion or worked for the government can themselves be held as aggressors. Whether the executor of the attack was the invaded country or one of its allies is irrelevant to the question of Iraqi “innocence”.

                If the Gulf War was a bad idea, it was a bad idea from the perspective of the American people for political or economic reasons. Any claim of victimhood from the Iraqi people is just stupid, unless it can be demonstrated that said US attacks deliberately targeted civilians, which is not the case (in that war at least).

                1. *whether the executor of the *counter-*attack was the invaded country or one of its allies

  13. AFAIK, our troops are there for a very simple reason: The French didn’t have gas money and so we flew them (and dome of our guys) there. Our guys were to protect the airplanes, and you know how that goes.
    Lemme look. Oh em gee, see here:

    “When did US forces arrive in Niger? In early 2013 to help the French military that had intervened in neighboring Mali the year before. The French had moved into Mali after an Al Qaeda affiliated group and tribal groups took over the vast northern part of the country and were moving towards the capital of Mali. As part of the U.S. effort to assist that mission President Barack Obama ordered 150 U.S. military personnel to set up a surveillance drone operation over Mali that would fly from Niger’s capital of Niamey.”
    https://sumsaver.com/why-us-troops-are-in-niger/

    Yep, ole ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ Obama the war-mongering asshole did it again!

    1. You know who else deployed U.S. troops to “help the French?”

  14. “The Truth About Niger”

    The article provides almost no information about Niger, truth or otherwise.

    “Jihadists would be no threat to Americans who were left to mind their own business.”

    Is it the Americans whom if left to mind their own business would not be threatened by jihadists?
    Americans who are left have nothing to fear from jihadists that mind their own business?
    Jihadists who are left to mind their own americans are no threat to business?
    American on the left in the jihadists business are out of their minds?

    That sentence is crap.

    1. Yes! Would somebody, preferably the author, please correct the grammar error in this headline?! Thank you.

  15. It’s all Obama’s fault, obviously That is all ye cousinfucking shitstains know on earth and all ye redneck bottom-feeding genetic dead-ends need to know.

    1. Ye? Do you think you’re fucking Shakespeare?

      1. Every night, in his dream, Tony is fucking Shakespeare.

    2. Funny, as this is the same thing people said to you when you blame all things war on Bush.

      Seriously though, even Obama has said he regrets it. In adult land when someone admits to their mistakes we all move on. You don’t need to defend a guy that has accepted responsibility for a bad call because when you do you sound as stupid as the people going on and on about it.

      1. Obama’s regrets don’t count for a hill of beans if they occur after he’s out of office. Why didn’t he reconsider his actions WHILE he was in office?

  16. “Jihadists would be no threat to Americans who were left to mind their own business.”

    Agreed that our military shouldn’t be there, but Muslim communities in the West not assimilating to Western standards of behavior is a real problem. Richman, being male, does not have to worry about getting sexually assaulted, as in Cologne, Germany a few years ago.

  17. Except that radical Islam is inherently an existential threat to everyone who is non-Muslim.

    We can either fight them over there, or fight them here.

    And this is not a new thing. Right after our country was born, our shipping was attacked by Muslim pirates. It only stopped when we fought back. Thus the “shores of Tripoli” line from the Marine song.

    1. Do unto others before they do it to you! Yee-haw!

  18. “We know Trump is a clumsy boor, and we also know that lots of people are ready to pounce on him for any sort of gaffe, real or imagined. Who cares? It’s not news.”

    Thank you!

  19. Sheldon did one thing right. The only story here is should Green Berets be there and does doing so make us free. These guys are SOF and the idea that there should be a bomber stack to 30k every time they patrol in some remote area of the world is silly. Also, this type of thing is one of their traditional missions sets, and something they have been doing much longer than GWOT.

    But yeah, Fox & CNN both suck and so does everything else in between.

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