our soldiers kill and die in wars we don’t know about and can’t end,
a democracy anymore.
D.C.) -- In our military-revering
culture, it’s a strange thing for a
president to start a war of words with the grieving families of slain
yes. But from Donald Trump’s campaign season feud with the parents of
Khan, who died protecting fellow soldiers in Iraq, to his recent feud
mourning widow of La David Johnson, who died on patrol in Niger, it’s
root in the latest spat is a comment Trump made to La David’s widow
Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia thought that remark
disrespectful — she later said it “made
insensitive, though, there’s a good chance it simply wasn’t
after all, should La David have expected to die in a dusty corner of
Niger — a
Saharan country most Americans (and, one suspects, their president)
find on a map? And where the U.S. isn’t actually at war?
you were surprised to learn the U.S. has nearly a thousand troops in
you’re not alone.
Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who serves on the Armed
Committee, told NBC he “had no idea.”
did Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat.
the surprises may keep coming.
New York Times notes that the U.S. now has “over
and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.” Count it
countries, out of 193 UN member states.
of us remain at least dimly aware that we still have thousands of
troops in war
zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Cold War outposts like
South Korea, and Germany. But what about the 160-plus others?
where are the nearly 38,000 troops whose location the Pentagon lists as
catch an occasional glimpse of this global footprint when a U.S.
dies someplace surprising — as Ryan
Owens did earlier this year in Yemen, and a
Navy SEAL did several months later in Somalia. More rarely we
reminders still, when our wars abroad come home in the form of
mostly the American people remain every bit as in the dark as Graham
like to imagine ourselves as citizens of a democracy that rejects the
ambitions of Old World powers like France and the UK. And yet
deployed troops to literally most of the planet, and our leading
tasked by the Constitution with the exclusive right to declare war —
know about it.
still, Congress appears to be abetting its own irrelevance.
this year, House Speaker Paul Ryan quietly
killed an amendment by Democrat Barbara Lee that would’ve
post-9/11 Authorization of Military Force, which has been used as a fig
legality for this global war making. And last month the Senate voted
2:1 to reject an amendment from Republican Rand Paul that
would’ve done the
are, the real victims from our post-9/11 wars live in countries we
or hear about. But as veteran and Army strategist Danny
Sjursen writes, “the potential, and all too pervasive, deaths
service members demand a public hearing” too.
when 16-plus years of war doesn’t appear to have made the world any
our soldiers kill and die in fruitless wars we don’t know about and
we’re not a democracy anymore — we’re an empire. And perhaps a fading
Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies
and editor of OtherWords.org. This report first appeared at
Otherwords.org and is reprinted here with permission.