1. Letter
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Bipartisan Coalition Urges Congress to Reject Bill Limiting Military Withdrawal from Africa

March 13, 2020


On March 4, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced the U.S.–Africa Strategic Security Act (H.R. 6089), which would prevent the administration from using money meant to reduce the number of currently deployed U.S. troops in Africa. To lift the prohibition, the legislation would require unclassified reports to Congress on everything from the impact of the withdrawal on countering armed insurgents to its effects on growing Russian and Chinese influence.

FCNL joined the Center for International Policy, the Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), and Win Without War in sending a letter to the chairs of the House Armed Services Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging them not to take up this bill in their respective committees. While we welcome congressional engagement on peace and security, we are troubled by an approach that would effectively mandate a continued military presence and raise constitutional concerns. This militaristic strategy is ill-equipped to build sustainable peace.


Dear Chairman Smith and Chairman Engel:

We write to you to express our deep concerns with the recently introduced U.S.–Africa Strategic Security Act, H.R. 6089, which aims to limit the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces currently deployed in Africa. While we welcome Congress’ engagement on matters of peace and security, we are troubled by an approach that would effectively mandate a continued military presence. Such a mandate raises constitutional concerns and reinforces a strategy that is ill-equipped to provide for sustainable peace.

While we welcome Congress’ engagement on matters of peace and security, we are troubled by an approach that would effectively mandate a continued military presence.

The Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, led by the 9/11 Commission co-chairs Gov. Kean and Rep. Hamilton, clearly showed that armed groups that perpetuate terrorism continue to thrive despite U.S. military interventions. Such groups exploit exclusionary governance, political instability, and local conflicts -- which are better addressed through diplomatic engagement, peacebuilding, and targeted foreign assistance. By requiring a military response to political problems, this bill perpetuates bad policy and risks American lives. Additionally, justifying continued military presence in Africa as “great power competition” against Russia and China has had the effect of fueling militarism and eroding opportunities for multilateral cooperation, all at the expense of sustainable peace.

Additionally, Congress should not restrict the withdrawal from a military mission that it has not properly authorized in the first place. Article I, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution places the power to go to war with Congress, and Congress has not authorized the use of force in this case. It is illogical for Congress to take action, then, to force a sustained military presence that it has not fulfilled its duty in authorizing. We note with dismay the eagerness of Congress to take action that preserves the U.S. global military footprint as compared with its reticence to aggressively oversee and restrict the unauthorized use of force, as is its constitutional duty.

Therefore, we urge you not to take up such legislation in your respective committees.

Sincerely,

Center for International Policy
Church of the Brethren Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Concerned Veterans for America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Win Without War