News first broke about America’s Niger misadventure on October 4. “The real news here is that the US has forces in Niger, where they’re conducting covert operations,” this writer tweeted out. “Hashtag America First.”
Official media ignored the ambush of the American Special Forces, until the story gained anti-Trump traction. No word came from John McCain. Three weeks hence, the senator from Arizona is making history. McCain, who has never encountered a war he wasn’t eager to prosecute, is questioning the folly in Niger.
The senator from Arizona can run but can’t hide from the pollution he has left along his political path. Republicans wisely rejected war in Kosovo; McCain jettisoned party loyalty to call for bombs from above and “more boots on the ground.” At the prospects of war with Iran, McCain burst into song, “Bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb-Iran.” The possibility still makes this war ghoul smile. Before that, McCain promised a 100-year war in Iraq.
Senator McCain’s jingoism has encompassed Syria, Georgia, Mali, Nigeria, and China. Where the US could not effect regime change, as it did fecklessly in Afghanistan and Libya—McCain would typically call to side with an imagined local “friend of America” against an imagined “foe of America.” McCain has many imaginary friends.
Where his target country was beyond US bullying (Russia), the idea of the resumption of a cold war was an option McCain liked. He is currently fulminating over a slight delay in sanctions against Russia. When all efforts to tame the world militarily fail, McCain is partial to the idea of UN troops acting as his surrogates, say in Sudan.
No war makes Johnny a sad boy. But now he’s considering a subpoena over Niger.
Playing out in Niger are the permanently entrenched, unchanging, American foreign-policy interests. Keen observers will detect a familiar pattern. Once again, the American bias everywhere is toward a powerful, overweening central state. This conceit has put our forces on a collision course with the tribal interests America toils to tame. …