McCain on sending troops to Africa: Be careful
October 16th, 2011
11:42 AM ET
10 years ago

McCain on sending troops to Africa: Be careful

Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona on Sunday questioned the president’s recent order to send American troops to central Africa, saying the move could put the United States on a slippery slope.

“I worry about, with the best of intentions, that we somehow get engaged in a commitment that we can't get out of,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

This week, President Barack Obama ordered about 100 U.S. military personnel to aid in the hunt and removal of Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, better known as the “LRA.”

In a letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, Obama said the group "has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa" and "continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security."

The president said the troops will not use force unless acting in self-defense.

While McCain acknowledged that a humanitarian crisis is taking place in the region, he chided the Obama administration for acting without the approval of Congress and warned against getting too involved.

“I remember Somalia. I remember Lebanon,” McCain told CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “We’ve got to be very careful about how we engage. This slippery slope thing could happen there.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Africa • John McCain • President Obama • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Tony

    “I worry about, with the best of intentions, that we somehow get engaged in a commitment that we can't get out of,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Like Iraq?

    October 16, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. G Sallee

    What I see is another attempt to discredit whatever this president tried to accomplish. McCain forget that we have not gotten ourselves out of Iraq even though we should not be there... He somehow forgets about the past of others presidents, or justifies what roll they portrayed. I am proud of President Obama for taking a step of faith to ensure the annihilation and to aid in the hunt and removal of Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army. SALUTE!!!

    October 16, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. f

    endless war

    October 16, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. hereitis

    I have spent several years researching in Uganda. I also spent some time in Gulu in the northern part of Uganda where many of Kony's atrocities have played out. I interviewed children who had been abducted by the rebels and forced to kill their own families. I interviewed politicians. I interviewed 2 of Kony's wives. I interviewed some of the children who walk to the center of town every night to sleep without their families – and have done so for years because of the risk of being abducted. I interviewed some of the 1.9 million people living in IDP camps who are no longer allowed to farm their own land and have been made dependent on once a month world food program drop-offs. Musevini DID NOT overthrow a democratic government in the mid-80's. He over threw one of the most horrific dictatorships in the history of the country. Museveni introduced democratic elections, and was quickly elected. However, things seem to be going back to the old-story line, as Museveni has now been in powers for 25 years.

    The deal is – there are only about 500 Lord's Resistance Army soldiers. They live in the bush. They WALK everywhere. They do not have cars, or helicopters or tanks. They have reluctant, hungry children equipped with AK47s. The Ugandan Military is fully equipped. They know the land, they know the hiding places. In my opinion, the Ugandan Government could have and should have defeated the Lords Resistance Army many, many years ago. I suspect that the Ugandan government has kept this war going so that they can continue to receive financial and military (weapons) support from other countries around the world. I must say that I am pleased that the US is finally sending folks over on the ground to take a look. My hopes are that these 100 troops will see through the ploy and put an end to the civil war that has been affected literally millions of innocent people in Uganda. Finally we are going somewhere because it is the right thing to do, rather than to ensure our control over natural resources such as oil!

    October 16, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  5. Steve

    McCain must be the only republican left that uses common sense.

    October 16, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. John

    And why do we need to be in Africa? The President should not be allowed to deploy ANY troops without the approval of congress.

    October 16, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Al

    I voted for President Obama and will again. However, Senator McCain hit it right when he brought up Somalia and Lebanon. In both cases we sent in a tiny symbolic force to make a symbolic gesture, only to have things end very badly. We lost many lives, then had to slink away while the criminals got to crow about how they had repelled the mighty USA. It is also important to remember that our involvement in Vietnam began with a few dozen advisers.
    The moral: If you can't or won't go in big enough to control the scene, stay home.

    October 16, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  8. Lester

    The President is the commander-in-chief. There is no law (including the War Powers Act) that requires a congressional vote for sending 100 non-combat troops to a friendly country.

    October 16, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Ruth Caron

    Its about time our country helped get rid of Joseph Kony he is a maniac. Only with the help of the US will he get ousted. The innocent people hes tortured have suffered enough. Its about helping people who can not help themselves. THEY NEED get over yourself McShame on you McCain.

    October 16, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Mike

    Is this the same McCain that wanted to spend 100 years in Afghanistan and have total war with Iran?

    October 16, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. D.

    The world has taken advantage of Africa for hundreds of years Senator especially the US so stop complaining. Let the President do what has must do....remember you lost the election and for good reason.

    October 16, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Lenmsith

    Bush did it too, but it doesn't make it right. An Act of Congress allows this to be done. And, if you think of history what would have happen if we would have stepped in and helped the oppress people of Germany in 1933? Would the little Austrian paper hanger have been able to nearly destroy the world? I am not for putting our military in arms way, but than we are the most powerful and richest country in the world, so if we don't help, who is to help?

    October 16, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Larry L

    @Rick McDaniel "America doesn't know, how to keep their noses out of other people's business."

    You might want the study that region in relation to strategic minerals. We commonly send small numbers of troops to places like the Congo where training and logistical support adds stability to our critical interests. The strategic minerals in that region are absolutely critical to national defense – just ask Russia and China...

    October 16, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. AzRose

    Obama had better hope that not one of those 100 men are killed in Africa. He has plenty of blood on his hands now with the deaths happening everyday in our military. I can't help but wonder why now Obama has decided to take on this issue, it has been going on for decades, why now???

    October 16, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Glenn Lemke

    This coming from someone who was proudly part of the biggest slippery slope and waste of 55,000 lives and billions of dollars(and still didn't complete the mission) , Vietnam.

    October 16, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. David

    Isn't this the same guy who demanded we INVADE Libya to crush Gadhafi? Can he make up him mind already?!

    October 16, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  17. Bulldog1970

    It is time for the Senator to retire!

    October 16, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  18. Carl

    ok MCCain it is a mistake not to send troops to Lybia on the first day, but after many years of blood shed, Obama send less than 100 advisors, it is a mistake? You wanted a full scale participation in Lybia, but 100 is a mistake... wow!

    October 16, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  19. charles

    Another missguided policy. If the USA and international community is very much intrested in solving Africa problems , they would have sent troops to the Congo where more than three million people have died in hands of brutal dictors. This policy is only aiding the african dictators , ligitimizing then at the expence of any dissenting views. I am not supporting konny, but africa is a time bomb where corruption, nepotisim, and many to name. We should adress these isssues that bring conflict on the continent. Like international aid has failed to bring development to the continent , i believe it will also achive nothing in solving the continents problems.

    October 16, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. Abby

    In response to Dare:

    You apparently don't realize Obama ordered for 100 advisors – not soldiers. These advisors are not going to fight, but to do such things as aid and educate locals on fighting the LRA and gain information about the group; which is terribly far from a "full military engagement". The topography has nothing to do with this as these troops will not be fighting.

    To answer your question about why the President would choose to "put US troops in harms way": firstly, Uganda is a peaceful country aside from the LRA. These people have been praying and begging the western world to aid them in fighting the Lord's Resistance Army for years. More importantly, the LRA, a small rebel group led by a single man named Joseph Kony, is responsible for the mutilation, death, torture, capture, rape and other horrendous acts against men, women, and especially children for no reason other than to maintain control and continue to hold a state of fear amongst the people of central Africa for the last 25 years. And oil? In Africa? Please.
    If you want to talk oil as a motivator, let's talk Bush and Iraq.

    October 16, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. azmary

    Mr. "bomb-bomb-Iran" needs to keep his opinions about how to apply American troop skills to problem situations to himself.

    October 16, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. ddt

    People, remember when this same idiot accused Obama of not sending troops to Libya!! Wherw is Libya? Is Libya not in Africa? ... b,,s

    October 16, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  23. Fina) Parsons

    Any war IS political. Anyone who thinks a war could possibly be for humanitarianism reasons is delusional. There are tyrants everywhere. Obama just picks and chooses which ones to fight based on probable political gain . . . as every president has before him.

    October 16, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. Boston Bob

    The country is broke and can not afford to be global police. This is a job for the UN. There is a huge problem in Africa. This is very true. We unfortunately have our own problems and can not afford to start a new war.

    October 16, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Steven

    I believe the President is partially correct sending the troops in for a humanitarian basis, however, if you are going into harm's way, do not limit the action of these troops to acting only in self defense. At that juncture the President is not protecting our troops, but risking there lives unnecessarily

    October 16, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
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