Send in the drones? Reflections on the troop deployment to Africa

Isn’t it bliss?

Obama’s decision to deploy 100 Special Forces soldiers to Uganda, as advisers in the regional fight against the homicidal Lord’s Resistance Army, has drawn criticism and concern across the political spectrum.  There are good reasons for that.

The basic criticism is that the move repeats the worst error committed in past deployments of US troops:  sending task forces too small to achieve anything decisive, and giving them vague, open-ended missions.  The grand debacle of Vietnam started out in precisely this manner.  As the troop levels expanded the mission crept ever outward, but only briefly ceased being vague and open-ended – when Nixon implemented a strategy designed to get a negotiated bargain so US troops could leave.  South Vietnam fell less than three years later.

The other classic examples from recent years are the deployment of Marines to Lebanon, which resulted in the bombing of their barracks by Hezbollah in 1983 and the loss of 241 Marines, and the US deployment to Somalia in 1993, which ended with the bloody street battle in Mogadishu commemorated by Black Hawk Down, in which 19 Army soldiers were killed.  Both of these deployments were characterized by vague, open-ended missions, and, in consequence, poorly conceived force levels and operational postures.  Both ended with ignominious withdrawals.

But there are other reasons for concern.  The most fundamental one, in my view, is that there is no real operational mission for the US advisers, as advisers and trainers.  The State Department policy statement on the deployment is as non-specific as it’s possible to be while still using English nouns and adjectives.  But it’s not just the vagueness of the mission; it’s the fact that, based on a military analysis of the situation, there isn’t one.

The Lord’s Resistance Army has been plaguing Uganda, South Sudan, and other adjacent nations in Central Africa for nearly a quarter century.  The armed forces of the regional nations have been fighting it very nearly that long.  They know far more about its methods – and about their own terrain, populations, and other combat conditions – than US Special Forces do.  Combat skills training and orchestration of the battle plan are not what the regional armed forces need help with.

Certainly the 100 soldiers being deployed are too small a contingent to have a decisive tactical effect against a scattered, indigenous guerrilla force that roams over large swaths of territory.  To a fight like this one, the US force primarily brings sophisticated equipment.

Two aspects of the sophisticated-equipment advantage are obvious.  One is essentially political:  the communications suite back to the US theater commander and the US chain of command.  Uganda doesn’t need cell phones, GPS, or signal encryption technology; the Ugandans can buy those things from vendors in Uganda.  It’s the guarantee of US engagement, with the presence of a force that can raise Commander, US Africa Command in Germany 24/7, that makes a strategic difference to the leadership in Kampala.

The other equipment aspect is smart-targeting technology – principally drones, for reconnaissance and attack.  And that begs the question what the mission is.  Does the Uganda deployment represent an expansion of drone warfare to a new guerrilla problem, one unrelated to the global war on terror?  Has the GWOT been redefined to include the Lord’s Resistance Army?  What is the US strategic interest being served here?  What is the strategy?

Americans have generally tolerated the expansion of drone warfare to Yemen and Somalia, on the theory that Al Qaeda and its associates (e.g., the Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia) have to be pursued into their bases of training, recruitment, and operational planning.  Al-Shabaab is on the very fringe of justification by the needs of the GWOT, but the group ticks two boxes:  the GWOT, and the pacification and unification of Somalia.  US policy has pursued the latter on a desultory basis for nearly 20 years; since midway through the Bush 43 tenure, our approach has focused on giving material support to the African Union’s mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

(Al-Shabaab also – indirectly – ticks the antipiracy box, in the sense that stabilizing Somalia is a general measure to quell piracy.)

The LRA, however, does not export terrorism.  Nor does it harbor or support international terrorists.  Locating a justification for a poorly defined US mission against the LRA is hard enough.  Seeking analogies by which to justify the use of the Obama administration’s favorite technology is equally hard.  What drone-reliant situation is the LRA’s similar to?

If you had to pick one, you’d probably suggest that of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Haqqani network in Pakistan.  The tactics of the AfPak predators are by no means identical to the LRA’s – the LRA roams territory on a somewhat migratory basis, slashing and burning with the methods of a raiding force – but the threat to rural populations and to the authority of central governments is similar.

It’s worth noting, at this point, that what the LRA is specifically not similar to is Al-Qaeda in Yemen (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP).  AQAP hides out in Yemen, training and planning attacks on the US; it does not make a practice of slaughtering the Yemeni population.  The LRA also has significant differences from Al-Shabaab in Somalia.  Al-Shabaab, unlike the LRA, seeks to establish a shari’a state, and makes itself strategically vulnerable by trying to enlarge its held territory (including overtures of political leadership in the capital) and attempting to rule the people on it.  Al-Shabaab makes itself a conventional target in a way the LRA does not.

The big, strategic picture is that we are apparently proposing to transport the AfPak head-hunting model to Central Africa.  The deployment envisioned would be suitable for using drones against the LRA leadership in the same way we have been using them against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Taliban/Al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.  It is not suited for anything else that would actually be of use, either to a well-defined mission or in the conditions on the ground.  That the Obama administration is wedded to the drone-warfare method is flashing-neon obvious.  But the question remains why we appear to be opening a new front with it in Central Africa.

The US troop footprint is reportedly intended to expand to South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Putting small troop contingents in any of them is dicey; putting them in DRC borders on idiotic.  DRC has been wracked by civil war for years, and Uganda and Rwanda back warring factions in the country.  It is not possible to “fight the LRA” in DRC without taking sides in DRC’s internal conflict.  The US has effectively taken sides before, but not with US troops on the ground in DRC.  With troops in country, the cost of taking sides would be higher by an order of magnitude.

Without dismissing the horrors perpetrated by the LRA, it is still possible to see another option.  The Bush 43 administration put a great deal into Africa, building up the US engagement infrastructure there by beefing up diplomatic missions and creating Africa Command, along with service component commands; bolstering ties with African nations (including dramatic increases in our economic and military cooperation); and fostering and supporting African regional initiatives.

US support to the AMISOM effort in Somalia is one example to build on: the LRA problem is a natural fit for the African Union.  An AU-managed effort, or even an ad hoc coalition of the nations affected by the LRA, is a better approach than deploying US troops to a single nation, with vague plans for expansion and no clear political scope delineated for the campaign.

In 2001, the US had been attacked on 9/11 by a terrorist force that used Afghanistan as a base and was materially supported by the Taliban.  In 2011, the US is wholly unaffected by the LRA.  Countering the LRA is a worthwhile cause to support, but it is one the African nations should have the lead on, in terms of political commitments and a defined plan.  There is no evidence from the Obama administration’s announcement that they do.  There is no reference to a regional coalition, to the African Union, or to an African initiative.

Indeed, the US action is strategically disembodied – like the “responsibility to protect” justification used for the Libya operation in March – in every aspect.  The risk of mission-creep and situation-force mismatch is exceedingly high.  We are right to be gravely concerned about where this is leading.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

42 thoughts on “Send in the drones? Reflections on the troop deployment to Africa”

  1. Nice list of all the things that might happen and I’m pretty sure that no one in that five-sided building even remembers Vietnam or Beirut or Mogadishu
    Heck, they probably don’t even remember the awful butt-kicking we endured in Iraq for a couple of years.

    No, I certain that you’re right and that every time this administration doesn’t do anything bellicose you can cry about how weak and uninterested it is….and every time they do something demonstrating some slight commitment, you should get around to ragging about how it’s going to be disastrous.

    No need to wait until the thing even begins. You just go right ahead and complain that you’re not being told anything and just guess about it, because not knowing even two facts makes it pretty easy to indulge yourself.

    You’re completely ignoring the possibility that the 100 soldiers are being sent there with secret instructions to sabotage the fight against the LRA because Obama doesn’t want it not to succeed.

    1. Acting with a slight modicum of relative firmness can hardly be called “Bellicosity”, Fuster. That the Obami fail to do so with such regularity hardly inures to their credit.

    2. Military defeats are always remembered fuster.

      As personally tragic as any wars dead are, 4477 American military deaths in Iraq does NOT a “butt kicking” make fuster.

      The issue isn’t the administration’s bellicosity or lack thereof, the issue is the administration’s ‘wimp’ factor. Obama is a Presidential version of Don Knotts’ ‘Barney Fife’ character, all bluster with not the slightest bit of true grit…

      And, not to be entirely adversarial, I agree with you that another explanation is probably closer to the truth than offered by TOC. The meagerness and ultimate ineffectiveness of 100 American military advisers is quite probably intentional; it’s the absolute minimum he can offer while claiming to both ‘be doing something’ and being responsive, while actually doing basically nothing.

      And that’s probably for the best, we have no overriding interests in Africa and their problems can only be solved internally.

      1. The sub-saharan portion of Africa has been a bit of a mess since the European colonists took their leave.
        The tribal factions in these countries have certainly improved the art of brutality,massacre,violence,corruption, and just a hint of cannabalism (toes anyone?).
        The Europeans were pikers in the area of exploitation of minerals and humans.
        I understand of course that black on black murder,rape,gonocide in general is acceptable to the progressives around the world. Just a steep learning curve if you will.
        We should stay out of that area. No good will come of it.
        The President is indeed, an empty suit.

        1. wreed, I feel compelled to point out something about colonialism. “Colonialism” is, as you know, one of those terms that is bandied about as a criticism/accusation of America (oddly) and the West for the utter basket case that these former colonies usually are. What’s never pointed out though is that these countries were in pretty decent shape when the colonizers were running the show and only became basket cases *after* the colonial powers left town. This fact is conveniently ignored.

          As much as a country may not want to be a colony, more often than not the citizenry is better off when a Western nation is at the helm of their country.

          1. Ritchie, please re-read my first sentence. I said directly, the sub-saharan countries have been a mess since the colonials left. That would imply the situation was better when the colonials were in charge.
            Regards to you.

            1. wreed, I wasn’t making a point to counter yours at all. I was simply trying to amplify (as you said in your first sentence) the fact that it is virtually never mentioned that the colonized countries have their serious problems *after* the colonials leave. And that it quite disingenuous or ignorant when people (usually the Western Left or the pathetic rulers of said countries) cry “colonialism!” when trying to claim a reason for the basket case situation these countries have become.

              I probably should have been more clear though that I was making a general point and not a counterpoint to you. Apologies for that.

        1. Not so fuster. Though I do agree that they are, at best minor supporting characters in the regional dynamics. Yemen’s importance lies, like Afghanistan under the Taliban as a somewhat secure base for Al Qaeda operations. Only currently minimal because of our aggressive posture toward that organization and sure to arise ‘phoenix like’ should our posture relax. Anyone who thinks that the WOT is essentially over is a fool engaged in willful blindness.

          While Bahrain’s importance lies in two areas; our naval base which supports our presence and influence in the region and as a somewhat subtle supporting dynamic for the Saudi government. Whom while certainly despicable, offer the only alternative to a Sunni version of Iran.

          1. Yemen is not important. Al Qaeda is. Actually, Yemen is not much more than another few million mouths to feed and twice as many hands out for money. Al Qaeda is a sworn enemy of the US and, as such, it should be dealt with regardless of where they stand or hide.

            If that is what you meant then I agree with that.

            The saudis are not our friends and we should never make the mistake of treating them as such. Maybe our landlords as far as our bases there but certainly not our friends.

            The mistake that we make over and over again is that we publicly treat these people as if they were indeed friends of ours.

            Ha! Not even good allies. Bowing to them, literaly, was not our best moment.

            And actively showing our children a different picture from how they behave and act, all in the name of inclusiveness (spit!), is counter-productive in the extreme.

          2. Geoffrey, al Qaeda isn’t in Afghanistan any longer and isn’t likely to be able to return….

            they have been in Africa, are entrenched o the other side of the Horn, and are moving back, in some numbers through Somalia. there isn’t much in the way of opposition to be found among the weak governments and there’s likely a fair bit of support in the Sudan as well as Somalia’s shabaableheads…..

            and THAT’S why I’m suggesting that we have some interest in there.

            there are other interests, but that’s what I was suggesting rather than spelling out.

    3. It is interesting this policy decision was part of a late Friday afternoon info dump.
      The President will climb any mountain, cross any river, lift any load to distance himself from any decision his administration makes.
      He is present however.

    4. a slight commitment….. That is the true, basic nature, of this President. You are are profound and articulate Fuster.

  2. Except one small matter. I refer of course to the point JED makes in her second last paragraph. If my memory serves me, she made the exact opposite argument in relation to our support for the Libyan insurgency. Poor Obama. Damned if he does, damned twice if he does the opposite.

    1. Paul,the President is a weak, incompetent,small time political hack no matter what he does or not do.
      His own party pays no attention to him. This is bad for the country. There is no political gain to be made because of this situation. It is embarrasing for America throughout the world.
      The only effective move the man has made is to fill the skies with drones. Dead terrorists are good terrorists. I salute him for giving the military/security apparatus a green light on this.

      1. you’re right and the guy he replaced was much, much worse. he was such a yutz, that it took him until his second term to start being in charge of his own administration.

  3. What’s our real beef with the LRA or Al-Shabaab? That they refuse to go along with the bogus electoral justification of so-called democratic countries? What do we care if they have sharia law? Are we able to somehow justify sending drones into the airspace of any territory that doesn’t meet some unwritten requirement?

    There’s probably always going to be some Quisling element in any country that we attempt to intimidate. There are Iraqis and Afghanis making big bucks by collaborating with the Americans. When we’re gone they will be as well, living in hotels in Pairs and Nice. Might be a good investment, real high security domiciles for Southwest Asian and Arab expatriates with lots of US C-notes to launder. The overwhelming majority of those remaining, however, will be those that have simply endured, just as they have for centuries, and they will still be tribal members, loyal to their emir rather than to any arbitrary statist construct imposed by the west. They know that our patience wears thin in a hurry while their own spans generations. Rejecting your own culture for the godless, hedonistic, pornographic West is anathema to them. Attempting to force these people into our own world view is an impossible task. If the feds can’t make the people in Orange County vote Democrat, how are they going to make the Afghanis do it?

    1. Chuck Martel:

      Yep! That’s it in a nut shell.

      By the way, colonialism is imposing the will of one nation upon another and that is what we seem to be doing in the region.

      Democratizing Arab/Muslim nations (do I repeat myself?) is as silly as expecting a Western politician, specially one hoping to be elected democratically to anything besides a janitorial position, to openly and actively reject socialism in all its forms and to do it for the unfairness of that bovine excrement of a political system and for the abject failure that it has proven to be anywhere it has been tried.

      Oh, wait…we weren’t discussing the GOP debate. Sorry!

      Back to you guys… 🙂

    2. chuck—

      “There’s probably always going to be some Quisling element in any country that we attempt to intimidate. There are Iraqis and Afghanis making big bucks by collaborating with the Americans”

      right we shouldn’t be worrying about foreigners collaborating with our government.

      there are still plenty of people right here at home acting like Quislings and collaborating with our government…..let’s get those guys sent packing for France first.

      no decent person would think that anyone should have a beef with the LRA. they’re fine upstanding Christians (according to some gross blowhard) and they’re doing what decent Christians do to create a more just society.

  4. Good Day,
    What caught my eye was the reference to South Sudan ( I agree on the idiocy our troops in the DRC or any other Sub Saharan African basket case). I can’t comment on the deployment to Uganda per se. There is no strategic or tactical US interest that warrants the deployment of troops at this point (that I at least see).. On the other hand, if it is a precursor to deployments on the southern flank of the Middle East+Egypt, that’s another story all together. From what I heard over the weekend, the Kenyans crossed the border into Somalia. Could these moves be the commencement of a long term “end around” the Arabian peninsula?

    1. Correction: I meant “end run” around the Arabian peninsula. And let’s not forget Turkey has increased its profile in Somalia recently.

  5. jgets — I don’t know. A strategic approach to the Arabian Peninsula that starts in Uganda seems overly clever to the point of psychotic. Given our partnerships with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, our alliance with Israel, our presence in Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, and our naval presence in the waterways surrounding the Arabian peninsula, there’s really no argument that tying a toe to Central Africa improves our posture vis-a-vis the AP.

    In any case, I haven’t seen anything from the Obama administration that would suggest complex strategic thinking.

    I do think the impact of the LRA on South Sudan is a factor in the administration’s decision here. Fostering peaceful independence for South Sudan has been a US policy for some time now, and the ability of Khartoum to “use” the LRA (which it allows to operate from Sudanese territory as a base) is a security threat to the shaky new nation.

    The Obama administration is showing no understanding of what’s going on with Turkey in the Horn of Africa (or in Iraq or Syria, for that matter). There’s no evidence that Erdogan’s activities are recognized as a strategic push. I don’t think Team O even understands the geostrategic significance of the Horn of Africa. In that, they wouldn’t be all that different from Team Bush.

    Americans don’t naturally think in the terms of territory and influence, largely because we are a continent-size island and essentially a maritime power. But major land powers — like Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, and Germany — see and feel geography differently. Where Americans (and Brits, Canadians, Australians, and even Japanese) see global principles of politics and relationships, Russians and Iranians and Turks see borders, control of traffic-ways, the need for holding territory against near neighbors who operate on different notions.

    Americans long ago ceased seeing the Great Crossroads viscerally as a border between East and West. But it it still very much that for those who live in the region, from Southeastern Europe to Southern Asia, and from Moscow to Khartoum. The Russians were never thrilled that US maritime power dictated the security regime in the Eastern Med — but our power was predictable and reliable, and it kept the waterways open for all. Russia wasn’t in charge, but Russia benefited.

    If our power is not dictating conditions in the Eastern Med, Russia has to worry about whose power will do what. History is her guide, and history says that Turkey will try to extort Russia for access to the Great Crossroads. History says the same thing to the people of Southeastern Europe. The view of borders, straits, seas, and oceans there is much more particular and freighted, in terms of national security, than ours is.

    Americans are very abstract thinkers when it comes to geography and security. Neither we nor the land-power populations is “wrong” or “right,” but our inherent prejudices about geography and security don’t necessarily apply to each other’s situations.

    As for cm’s question about what our beef is with the LRA, it’s nothing related to geographic security. I really think it’s a beef like the “responsibility to protect” principle that got us into a non-hostile kinetic military action in Libya. Bad guys are killing a bunch of people, and we have to use force to stop it.

    The problem, of course, is that armed military force doesn’t have a tidy, non-hostile but kinetic answer for what the LRA is doing. Sure, you can deploy armed force and use it, but if you don’t have an objective of imposing a different political condition, armed force merely for “protection” doesn’t induce the bad guys to lay down their arms. We had stellar examples of that in Somalia in 1993 and Bosnia in 1995. In the pendulum cycle of our strategies in Afghanistan, we’ve seen some of that as well. And now we have Libya, where we have failed to protect the civilian population — which was the objective — and allowed the conflict to continue for months, when it could have been terminated by taking out Qaddhafi inside of a week.

    These are prime examples of abstract thinking, as opposed to understanding the dictates of geography — which encompasses terrain, history, and the people and their politics.

    1. “. I really think it’s a beef like the “responsibility to protect” principle that got us into a non-hostile kinetic military action in Libya.”

      A “non-hostile kinetic military action”? Is that the Orwellian version of “blowing things up”? And about this “responsibility to protect”. My buddy William Cobbett jumped all over shameless self-promoter William Wilberforce and his campaign to abolish West Indian slavery in 1823 when he pointed out that the average English working man probably had it worse in many ways than a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation and that if do-gooder Wilberforce had an ounce of integrity he would have done something to alleviate the suffering of those right down the lane before he took on problems across the Atlantic. The same could be said about political affairs in foreign lands, which are none of our business. After all, how positive is the American response when foreigners tell us how to run our own operation? Like abolishing the death penalty, for instance?

  6. —-The Obama administration is showing no understanding of what’s going on with Turkey in the Horn of Africa (or in Iraq or Syria, for that matter).—-

    horse feathers. they’re not showing your sort of “understanding” is all. they don’t quite have the scope to restrict themselves to complaining and demanding that the people of the world all act like they’re Sooners.

    we want Assad out and Syria away from Iran and we’re not going to be able to install Franklin Graham as the new head of Syria and we don’t want a power vacuum in Syria as it will probably really inconvenience the neighbor with the white and blue flag.

    1. Did someone say Sooners? If everyone acted like the Sooners, there would be a lot of Championship Rings around the world.
      Except for the tenured set of course.

      1. which means that they’re 1003% right and shouldn’t be questioned, rafa.

        the main point is that Turkey is about the single best option for dumping out Assad and keeping some sort of check against both the Iranians maintaining influence and a shipping point for weapons into southern Lebanon and keeping the al Qaeda-esque jihadis from establishing bases in Syria.

        Erdogan is a worry for us and keeping Turkey fairly close is important. Doing it at iran’s expense is really nice.

  7. Mrs. Dyer- All your points are well taken. Especially those about the the differences in abstract and ‘real’ Geo-strategic point of view.
    I’m dragging this off topic. Sorry.
    I agreed that it was idiocy. I just wanted to point out that an eventual US military presence in South Sudan (its a secure staging area as opposed to the likes of Somalia for the US), has some implications in the Horn of Africa and historical upper Egypt/Nubia. Even if the O team is doing this inadvertently.
    I know I’m taking about a sideshow.
    Control of the Horn is almost as important as control of the strait of Hormuz, though. And there is a vacuum of power in the Horn, that’s just geopolitical reality. It could be argued that the regional “jewels”, “are ripe for the pickin” if handled properly by the right interventionist/revisionist power, (eventually a successful part of Turkey’s push?).

    May I add some ancillaries as food for thought?

    I don’t believe all our alliances, and presence, in your aforementioned countries will last for much longer. The borders (internal and external) are untenable and are going to change, inevitably. The dynamics of the greater ME situation almost guarantee this outcome. Bear in mind the precedents of SEEurope, the Caucasus, essentially Tri-state Iraq, the so-called “Arab spring” etc. Remains to be seen who the winners and losers will be and which side we’ll be on if we don’t clearly read the situation and (at least attempt) to properly prepare our responses. This is no time to be behind the curve. Some of our “traditional” allies in the region might not quite look, or be lead, the same way in a few years (maybe less). We need contingencies.

    America must seriously examine where, when and to what degree it will play the role of either radical revisionist or defender of the status quo, And most importantly, balance the sum of the two. This will be difficult because America’s actions up to this point show (at least on the surface) that she doesn’t know what her interests are in this rapidly changing part of the world.

  8. In addition, in case I’m misunderstood. In a worst case scenario, Israel is the lynchpin and securest beachhead for America in the region.

  9. Note: interesting article here that confirms the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) factor in the Uganda deployment decision.

    (Soros is the principal funder and a board member of the International Crisis Group, which lobbied for the Libya intervention on the R2P justification, and has been advocating an intervention in Uganda since at least early 2010. Soros also has oil interests in Uganda, but I don’t suspect the Susan Rices of having that in mind. It’s R2P that they push.)

    For cm — non-hostile kinetic military action is an amalgam of the precise words used by the Obama administration to describe our action in Libya. I’ve shortened it to NHKMA before, but it comes directly from Team O’s press spokesmen, who first said it was not a war but a “kinetic military action,” and then said it was not a case of HOSTILE military action, but of “non-hostile” military action.

    By the definitions adduced in the Team O communication campaign, Vietnam and Korea were also non-hostile kinetic military actions. Sadly, WWII — The Good War — doesn’t qualify. Our political objective in that war was not to “protect” and “deter,” with the hope of eventually inducing a Bad Guy to get religion, but to defeat the Axis and dictate terms to it.

      1. Fuster, W had backbone (right or wrong), fought for what he believed in and has kept a very low stately retirement. He has some class.
        Can you imagine the Carteresque retirement Obama will provide for the world.
        They both are complete failures in the political and leadership arena. Carter has and Obama will continue to make a complete fool of himself trying to be relevant. Hey everyone I am a really smart trendy guy.
        Obama will spend his time between Hamas parties and county fairs. He will be billed as The Worlds Tallest Midget.

        1. I agree that GW has handled his retirement with dignity. Actually, I would go so far as to say that nothing in his tenure became him like the leaving of it.

          (it’s made a fine contrast to his vp)

    1. I read the entire article J.E. It reads like an FBI investigation into the mafia business models. That is to say inter-connected entities that are pretty vague. There are so many facets, no one can be held responsible for anything. Actually, it sounds like the insurance business.
      Soros at least is a man that is easy to understand. He is amoral. He is interested in making lucrative investments. He wants his investments protected at all costs.
      If he could extract oil from Uganda with the population protected or the population exterminated he reaches his goal.
      I wonder how far up the food chain of the various organizations one has to go find people that understand the protect thing is garbage. In other words, where do the dunces and enablers end and the real power people begin?

    2. Gee, when you write in Obamaese, you should put it in quotation marks or italics. Now I feel bad.

  10. <i."Geoffrey, al Qaeda isn’t in Afghanistan any longer and isn’t likely to be able to return…." fuster

    That comment reveals a fundamental misunderstanding both tactically and strategically in the WOT. Afghanistan will be back under the de facto control of the Taliban within a year (quite probably less) of our abandonment of the country. Afghanistan will then become fertile ground for the reemergence of Al Qaeda strongholds. In the meantime, Pakistan and many other countries provide plenty of refuge for Al Qaeda. Eliminating leadership keeps the beast temporarily hunkered down but like the mythical Hydra, sooner or later a new head will emerge from the tribe. Islam tenets demands it.

    Strategically, Al Qaeda is simply one of many groups fighting to promote a militant and fundamentalist view of Islam. Islam’s tenets create a “crab grass” type of growth. You can mow the lawn all you wish but until you remove the roots, it will continue to reappear.

    1. Geoffrey, Afghanistan will not return to what it was prior to the invasion. It’ll remain backward and hostile for ages and can’t possibly be much else as long as Pakistan remains the breeding ground for snakes that it has been.

      But Afghanistan isn’y going to return to being home to flourishing terrorist training camps drawing recruits from half the world.

      I agree that problem is wide and will necessitate fighting in many places and also think that we can’t leave 100,000 of our soldiers there . Either we cross the border or draw down.

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