Empire Eyeing Expansion of Drone War to Kenya, Neither Congress nor Voters Will Be Consulted
"That the government is contemplating launching airstrikes against Somalis in Kenya a generation after the 9/11 attacks illustrates how futile the 'war on terror' has been"
Priyanka Motaparthy calls attention to the possible expansion of the drone war into Kenya:
The U.S. military is seeking new authorities to expand its program of lethal drone strikes into Kenya, in order to target al-Shabab fighters in the region, the New York Times reported last week. The request reportedly comes in response to the January 5 al-Shabab attack on the Manda Bay base in Kenya, which killed one US soldier and two private military contractors.
While the authorities have not yet received executive approval, they point toward yet another government effort to expand a secretive and unaccountable killing program on foreign soil. The proposed expansion threatens the lives and safety of civilians living in western Kenya, widens an accountability vacuum that human rights and other civil society groups have been fighting for nearly two decades, and keeps the public in the dark about the legal and policy standards that govern it.
The Trump administration has already significantly escalated the drone war over the last three and a half years. There were as many drone strikes and airstrikes in Somalia in the first five months of this year than there had been in that country from 2007 to 2016.
Now the war that the US has been fighting in Somalia threatens to spread into neighboring Kenya with all of the potential danger to civilians that this entails.
When we talk about the forever war, we don’t just mean the open-ended deployments in unwinnable and unnecessary conflicts that we see in Afghanistan and Syria. It very much includes this perpetual war machine of fighting militias in other countries’ wars that have no discernible connection to American security. That part has to end as well.
The supposed legal authority for carrying out these strikes in Somalia is sketchy at best. Because Al-Shabaab is aligned with Al Qaeda, they are treated as “associated forces” that the U.S. can attack under the 2001 AUMF, but it should go without saying that fighting against Somali insurgents has absolutely nothing to do with responding to 9/11 and it has nothing to do with protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks.
If anything, the U.S. is more likely creating more enemies for itself every time it kills innocent civilians as part of this ill-advised campaign. Officially, Al-Shabaab is said to represent an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the United States, but that is clearly hyperbole used to excuse military action against them.
The authorization that the U.S. is relying on in Somalia is outdated and irrelevant to the conflict there. The fact that the government is contemplating launching airstrikes against Somalis in Kenya a generation after the 9/11 attacks illustrates how futile the “war on terror” has been. It is long past time to abandon this militarized counter-terrorism policy.
The 2001 AUMF has been stretched and misinterpreted so extensively for the last 19 years that it has become almost a blank check for the U.S. government to justify military action against almost any tangentially related group anywhere in the world. Instead of expanding U.S. drone strikes to Kenya, the U.S. should be reining in these campaigns and bringing them to a close. The 2001 AUMF needs to be repealed, and any future use of force against groups like this needs to be debated and approved by Congress.
Source: The American Conservative