America’s Habit Of Training Its Enemies


While analyzing the situation in Mali, Steve Coll points out the unpredicable consequences of the US training foreign militaries:

The Pentagon has yet to meet a military in a desperately poor or hopelessly corrupt country that it does not believe it can train and equip to a professional standard. Pentagon training has in fact strengthened and stabilized professional militaries in many developing countries. Yet some of the militaries that the United States has mentored in North and West Africa are best understood as criminal organizations that happen to wear pressed uniforms and epaulets. The better that some of these students learn to shoot while at Fort Benning, and the better the equipment they receive as favored clients, the more effective they become at their enduring vocations—drug smuggling, coup-making, and profitable collusion with pirates and terrorists.

(Photo: A Malian man, Mohamed, poses at his home with a machete to protect himself in case of attacks by Malian Islamist rebel groups, in Mopti, on January 24, 2013. By Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)