- - Thursday, October 26, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Thanks to a cowboy hat and a sharp tongue, a moment of fame has stretched into two moments for a Florida congresswoman. The uproar over who said what to whom when President Trump called the widow of an American soldier killed in the defense of his country becomes travesty through the dark arts of politics.

Just as the United States and its allies were mopping up the ragtag remnants of the Islamic State and crushed ISIS dreams of an aggressive dominant caliphate in the Middle East, there was grim news of an ambush of that killed four American soldiers in Niger. Rep. Frederica Wilson said she eavesdropped on the call when President Trump telephoned the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson to convey the nation’s condolences.

She described the president’s sentiments to Myeshia Johnson, that her husband “knew what he signed up for,” was not simply a callous remark, but a racist one. The congressman has since engaged in a war of words with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general who lost his Marine Corps son in Iraq and could not sit still while she made politics of a constituent’s grief.

For U.S. leaders tasked with keeping the nation safe, concern grows that with the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Africa will become the next jihadist hot spot. “The war is morphing,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, emerging from a briefing by Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “You are going to see more action in Africa, not less. You are going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less.”

Among both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, anxiety mounts over the gradual expansion of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, approved by Congress following the terror attacks of 2001, as the threat has metastasized. “The many questions surrounding the death of American service members in Niger show the urgent need to have a public discussion about the current extent of our military operations around the world,” Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, told Politico. Gen. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson are scheduled to hold that discussion with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 30.

Terrorism is rife already in Africa. The Islamist extremist group al Shabaab has killed 2,745 persons in nearly a thousand attacks across Africa already this year, and Boko Haram has killed another 2,232. It’s the concern over the ease with which radical ideology penetrates underdeveloped nations that led the United States to post more than 6,000 troops among Africa’s 54 nations.

The Middle East and Africa are both thousands of miles from American shores, but distance quickly shrinks with easy intercontinental travel. Rather than constructing an impenetrable Fortress America, the United States has chosen to fight its enemies on their own soil. “We’ll fight them there,” said George W. Bush, “so we don’t have to face them here.”

A generation of parrying the thrusts of terror have taught Americans there are no simple remedies to the scourge of Islamic radicalism. The deaths of Sgt. Johnson and the three other Green Berets are dishonored by those making politics of security, but the nation must soldier on. Americans have had their fill of war, but war isn’t done with America. The borderless war proceeds.

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