It’s time to discuss American drone warfare again.
This article from the Wall Street Journal (paid access) brings forward some questions that we need to talk about as citizens.
U.S. Boosts War Role in Africa
Here is a free Google feed on the topic:
I’ve posted elsewhere in this blog, “Responding to Charles Krauthammer…,” regarding my current general feeling toward endless warfare in America’s name.
Let me summarize by saying that adopting the variegated moniker ‘Al Qaeda’ does not to my mind inherently warrant immediate lethal American action. Simultaneously, when murder and mayhem to me and mine are in fact the goal of an individual or group, I do appreciate direct intervention by my government.
I think Westerners are beginning to understand that the theater of operations for the Islamist cultural movement, which is shaping up to be the transnational tribalism of the 21st-century, is looking for a home in the northern half of Africa. Well, that makes sense. Why wouldn’t resurgence occur near the wellspring?
Africa is a continent rich in resources and underdeveloped from the human welfare perspective. The individuals comprising Africa are neither stupid nor backward. The diaspora from that continent has enriched the entire world for millennia.
The people of Africa were also among the earliest widespread adopters of cell phone technologies. Growing awareness led to discontent with the status quo. Economic tension was exacerbated by American policies (ethanol, subsidies) leading to food shortages in places like Tunisia, launching events like the Arab Spring.
What is actually cyclical and circular only seems linear; the conditions for the Arab spring had a lot to do with American support for the earlier dictators in that region. On and on it goes..
Are Americans seriously expected to believe the individuals comprising N Africa are incapable of determining what sort of rules they want to live under without an American drone base nearby?
While democracy may be a long journey, can anyone pick a society’s leaders better than those who have to follow? Why pick and arm winners from an ocean or more away, perpetuating generations of violence?
Yes, there is room for improvement in governance and efficiency throughout N African civil structures. Rule of law, effective courts and human rights are bases for functioning society.
This awareness and expectation of basic civil society is only growing among the population of the world’s poorest countries. They are rapidly gaining access to the information and world cultural heritage that is the World Wide Web. I fail to see how Mirage jets and Reaper drones improve Malian, Nigerian or Algerian lives.
The West must also learn to look long and pause before criticizing others’ self-rule. Italy made the cover of the Economist this week in an unflattering light, the eurozone crisis is its own topic and Uncle Sam has recently been lampooned a time or two.
The Malian situation is a great example of Western floundering while economic power drifts away. The French (and Western allies, including the US) are literally killing humans on behalf of Army officers who led a coup a year ago. Where’s the cheese, America?
In N Mali, the Tuareg people have been fighting on and off for autonomy, without Islamist help, for many years. It’s just been a stalemate, that’s all.
The reason the Tuareg people suddenly became more successful in their attempts to achieve autonomy is because the weapons of Libya flooded into their territory.
Read that again, the weapons of Libya reinvigorated the Touareg drive for autonomy in Mali. And, don’t you know, the weapons came attached to an ideology (yes, there is always ideology attached to weapons).
That particular ideology is one that people regularly reject, once its fruits are on display for an Internet-enabled populace to see – and compare! Hence, the Tuareg people are now hunting Islamists right along with the Malian government and the French. Weird, but true.
This story echoes endlessly. How many times have weapons acquired for some state’s legitimate use (hold the legitimate-question for another time) ended up firing up the insurgency next-door?
In what way does facilitating French airstrikes significantly differ from conducting American ones? In some ways, the ethics of this question are amplified by the fact that the French clearly don’t have the capability to carry them out without us.
In other words, killing scores of people in the deserts of Mali is really hard to do without American intelligence and support. Why are we supporting it?
Where is the cheese in Mali? The Tuaregs turned against the Islamists after they realized what they were buying, just as the Sunnis did during the Anbar awakening in Iraq.
Who is to say that the years-long fight for Tuareg autonomy is inappropriate? That’s an old battle and it predates Al Qaeda. I’ll bet a nickel we hear it come up again before the base (that we know about) in Niger is dismantled.
The people in the countries we are discussing routinely carry automatic weapons and are steeped in decades of conflict. As I said, they are not stupid. It seems to me they are capable of working out for themselves, without us, what appropriate self-rule might look like.
It also seems to me that the lesson of the Taliban-in-exile-from-Afghanistan is object enough, to those who might consider hosting the types who do publicly declare war on America. Especially if they are effective in their mayhem. Check. Everyone got that message.
With respect to object lessons and echoes, wasn’t it Moammar Qaddafi, of that very same Libya, who turned over his nuclear weapons to America, without a shove, after he saw what happened to those guys in Afghanistan? Or, am I misremembering how that went? Was his choice a precursor to being toppled from his rickety throne? Seems ironic, if so.
There are enough Things that go boom in that part of the world. They don’t need American help to fight one another. I think we’ve done enough. Let the people of N Africa sort themselves without American drones guiding allies’ missiles and bombs.
There is a time and place for a muscular American foreign-policy. This is not it. Supplying information, intelligence and support to French triggermen in no way of absolves us of responsibility.
There are better American gifts we can to bring to any country. The United States is about to experience the largest energy boom ever. How about we concentrate on bringing resources home to really leverage that (and invite the world to peacefully share in the benefits of what we already have)?
If another crop of hardened fighters must be born in the deserts of N Africa, let other nations do the midwifing alone and Reap the consequences. The people of N Africa do not have to loathe Americans and their drones, yet.
I’ll say it again, America, we can be smarter.
It’s not too late.