ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on Friday questioned President Obama’s decision to provide U.S. forces to help hunt down a central African terrorist accused of kidnapping, raping and killing thousands in the region.
“I do not know enough about it to comment on it,” Bachmann said at a town hall meeting here. But she went on to add “When it comes to sending our brave men and women into foreign nations, we will have to first demonstrate a vital American national interest.”
She noted that she opposed the president’s decision to commit American forces to aiding the pro-democracy forces in Libya who eventually ousted dictator Moammar Gaddafi. “He did not get permission from Congress; he just did it unilaterally,” said Bachmann, adding: “It just happened again.”
“This is a very serious matter,” Bachmann continued. “You do not just send American troops in.”
At a later Iowa event in Estherville, the Minnesota congresswoman sounded a more deeply skeptical note. “We are already engaged in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya and now he’s sent another hundred more over to Uganda,” she said, referring to U.S. troop deployments. “I will tell you George Washington was right when he said in his farewell address, be careful of unnecessary foreign entanglements.”
Obama on Friday notified House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that he plans to send about 100 military personnel, mostly Special Operations Forces, to central Africa. The first arrived in Uganda on Wednesday. Others will head to the surrounding countries of South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their mission will be to advise forces seeking to kill or capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Kony is on the U.S. terrorist list, is wanted by the International Court, and has been condemned by human rights groups for atrocities that include the mutilation of children and trafficking in sex slaves.
In his letter to Boehner, Obama said the U.S. troops will be instructed to engage in combat only in self-defense and argued that they would further U.S. national security interests. He cited Congress’ desire, expressed in the 2009 Northern Uganda Recovery Act, to “help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability