Gordon Adams criticizes America’s escalating involvement in Africa, shifting “from a focus on governance, health, and development to a deepening military engagement”:
Algeria and Mali, and the desperate-looking, one-dimensional focus on terrorists in the Maghreb, combined with the expanding appetite of U.S. Special Operators, suggest that we are entering another generation of misguided efforts to strengthen militaries and their security cousins at the expense of governance capacity and economic development in Africa. Each new “partner” with whom we are “building capacity” draws us more deeply into the internal politics of these countries, becoming a commitment, first with money and equipment, then training, then co-operation, then implicit political support.
And it’s all done through executive branch unilateralism. Meanwhile, news of a new US drone base in Niger is making the rounds:
[The base would] send a clear signal that the U.S. now considers North Africa to be a theater in the never-ending, non-declared war on terror (with lowercase letters).
Now that Afghanistan and Iraq are officially “over,” the focus appears to be moving West, to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, to the ethnic and religious violence in Nigeria, to the scattered militias in Libya, and toward terrorist attackers like those who hit the Algeria gas facility this month. This just continues the pattern of the Sahara region drawing more and more of America’s military resources and attention. And history shows that once the Pentagon establishes a presence in an foreign country, it becomes almost impossible to get them to leave.
Walter Russell Mead adds:
A status-of-forces agreement with Niger has been reached, but as the Pentagon aims to step up its intelligence-gathering operations in north Africa, it will need to tread carefully. Wary locals may not believe our assurances that the drones in north Africa are the “good drones.” And the way things are going the bad drones will likely be needed and soon.
Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Mauritania: will America soon have “kill lists” in these places too? This Libyan afterparty just keeps getting better.