Defense & National Security

Jones to oppose U.S. military aid in Mali

Jones to oppose U.S. military aid in Mali

As French forces wage war on extremist rebels in Mali, the support that the U.S. has been providing to the French effort–from logistical and communications support to C-17 cargo planes, though no troops–has received little attention.

But at least one Republican congressman thinks this U.S. military aid proves that President Barack Obama is overstepping his mandate.

Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), a conservative Republican who has crossed party lines to oppose what he believes are unjustified wars, re-introduced a concurrent resolution this month condemning Obama for use of “offensive military force by a President without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress.”

This is not a new fight for Jones.

The 11-term congressman has raised hackles on the right side of the aisle by voting to defund the war in Afghanistan, and gone to federal district court to challenge Obama on his decision to order limited military intervention in Libya in 2011 without consulting Congress first. That lawsuit, in which liberal Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) and five other bipartisan lawmakers were also plaintiffs, was ultimately dismissed.

Despite setbacks, Jones said he remained committed to use of U.S. military force and resources that was beyond what the country needed or could afford.

“We are what’s called a debtor nation,” Jones said. “We cannot pay our own bills without going to other governments and borrowing money. The French, if they’ve got justification to go into Mali, then let them go. But we need to step back and reevaluate our priorities.”

So far, Jones’ resolution has no cosponsors. And he may be fighting this particular battle alone.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has praised the level of military aid and support the U.S. has shown to France in its siege on Mali rebels.

“I think this is the kind of model that you’re going to see in the future,” Panetta told ABC News earlier this month.

U.S. officials are still considering whether or not to contribute surveillance drones and tankers to the French military effort.

But Jones said he plans to call for hearings on his resolution and to bring up the issue on the House floor.

Congress seems increasingly irrelevant in military decision-making, Jones said, and administration officials are failing to acknowledge the reality of America’s fiscal crisis.

“We need to get a lot smarter with our foreign policy than we’ve been for the last 12 years,” he said. “We are a nation in dire economic straits.”

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