Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lest we forget to notice the consequences of American interventionism

A few tidbits:

Gang-style execution is now the leading cause of death in the Iraq we've reconstructed.

Afghanis have so grasped the concept of American-style democracy that mobs of them are lining up to stone women protesting the recently passed law requiring Shi'a women to submit to sex every four nights and have permission to leave the house.

In Pakistan the Taliban are now operating freely within less than sixty miles of Islamabad, the nation's capital.

Meanwhile, reacting to stories that Islamabad is turning over more and more control of the countryside to the SWAT Taliban, the Obama administration opined,

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that the Obama administration believed that “solutions involving security in Pakistan don’t include less democracy and less human rights.”

... but apparently has no intention of connecting US aid--either military or civilian--to concrete performance on these issues in either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

The result of all this?

With so much long-term success from US interventionism abroad (measured however you like: death rates, living conditions, freedom, geo-political stability), it is somehow not surprising to find Senator Russ Feingold and others arguing that President Obama should follow up the dramatic success of our SEALs against the Somali pirates with ... more US interventionism:

WASHINGTON — President Obama basked in the success Monday of the naval operation that freed an American hostage from Somali pirates, and a key senator and several regional experts urged his administration to tackle piracy's root causes by helping Somalia's weak government gain control of its territory.

"A modest amount of assistance from the world community could do a great deal to help stabilize this government," said Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a leading voice in Congress on Africa. Feingold sent Obama a letter Monday urging him to call Somalia's president and commit to helping establish security.

Just so you know: it's not like Bushco wasn't already pouring money into that pit:

During the past two years, the U.S. has provided Somalia more than $350 million in humanitarian aid and $25 million to build courthouses, and give jobs to teenagers, according to government records.

That's about 7% of the Somali GDP.

And it's important to note that so far--so far--President Obama, SecDef Gates, and Admiral Mullen all have it right: the issue around the Horn of Africa is eliminating piracy, not rebuilding Somalia:

Obama said that he was resolved to halting the rise of piracy off the Horn of Africa. "We're going to have to continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, we have to continue to be prepared to confront them when they arise, and we have to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes," he said.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ordered a review of options to address piracy, said his spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said piracy will be a top priority. "I think we're going to end up spending a fair amount of time on this in the administration, seeing if there is a way to try and mitigate this problem of piracy," Gates said at the Marine Corps War College in Virginia.

It does not take nation-building in Somalia to end piracy in the region; it takes a multi-national naval presence to keep the shipping lanes open, and perhaps--finally--the common-sense realization that merchant vessels in dangerous seas should be allowed to be armed.

I only hope that President Obama will continue to keep at least this aspect of foreign policy limited to what we need to do rather than what it might be nice to do.

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