Lovely short film on how the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 changed, well . . . everything. (h/t FB Ali)
If the United States provides black-budget money, and trains and equips special forces, it supports the government in power—its bribery and coercion. During the Cold War, the United States and U.S.S.R. each supported client states in Africa and the Middle East, in a zero-sum geo-strategic game that denied citizens’ the right to change their own governments. This is still how a security cooperation relationship works, and we should have no illusions. And in turn, that kind of government generates popular resistance, including extremism.
The central lessons are well worn but nonetheless worth re-stating. First, the main effort in counter-terrorism should be social and political reform in affected countries, and second—for the United States—a national security strategy cannot substitute for a foreign policy that is aimed at finding political solutions to political problems.
At least one deeply informed and militarily experienced observer, Col (Rtd) Patrick Lang, sees the current crisis in Iraq as potentially akin to South Vietnam in 1975.
Armies are social groups that have weapons. They are not collections of equipment. The ARVN [Army of the Republic of Viet Nam] was much more numerous than the NVA [ North Vietnamese Army] in 1975. They were also much more heavily equipped and had been trained intensively for years. Some of their formations like the 1st ARVN Infantry Division had been well thought of and had previously fought well but in 1975 that division fell completely to pieces against smaller NVA forces. As I have said, the Iraqi Army must now mount a successful counter-offensive or the Maliki government is doomed.
Americans have grown understandably weary of foreign entanglements over the last 12 years of open-ended warfare, and they are now more receptive to a noninterventionist message than they have been in decades. According to a recent Pew survey, 52 percent of Americans now prefer that the U.S. “mind its own business in international affairs,” which represents the most support for a restrained and modest foreign policy in the last 50 years. That presents a challenge and an opportunity for noninterventionists to articulate a coherent and positive case for what a foreign policy of peace and prudence would mean in practice. As useful and necessary as critiquing dangerous ideas may be, noninterventionism will remain a marginal, dissenting position in policymaking unless its advocates explain in detail how their alternative foreign policy would be conducted.