Heart Of Darkness

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the US military will sign an agreement with Niger.  The agreement could be the first steps into another decade of overseas military involvement.  How deep an involvement and at what costs (human and monetary) is unknown.

This is the type of announcement that often goes unnoticed.  It’s only a small country and for the most part there is no shooting there.  Further we are reading about the French intervention in Mali and their early success in turning the tide of war against the radical Muslim insurgents.  The tendency is to let this announcement pass.  Let’s wait and see.

One cannot know the future, and it is often extremely difficult to make sense of the past.  Entering into military agreements in the heart of Africa, however, is no small deal.  The lessons of Afghanistan (protracted war and no possible victory in sight) and the even more unimaginable invasion and occupation of Iraq (regional destabilization and the freeing of insane religious hatred) should make us cautious on where our military treads.

Three questions.  (1) How does military intervention in Africa serve our national interests?  (2) What are our goals and how will we know they have been achieved?  (3)  What costs will we accept and how will they be paid for?   And, how will the US exit Africa if the costs become too high or our national interests are no longer served by presence in Africa?

If these questions seem frivolous, substitute Iraq or Afghanistan in place of Africa.

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