Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best Quote of 2010 Thus Far

If you think Afghanistan is a sinkhole, you will love Yemen.
Or, as Lynch puts it more completely,

But it is important to think carefully about the nature of the U.S. interests there, the kinds of resources which would be required to seriously affect the dynamics which matter to the U.S., and how actions in Yemen would fit into wider strategic concerns.  I've always thought that the global COIN conception is a recipe for overstretch and exhaustion, as the frontier endlessly recedes and American resources are squandered in a futile attempt to bring order to the unorderly parts of the world.  To say that Yemen's state failures produces conditions which allow some dangerous things to develop does not necessarily mean that massive action is required -- the world is full of suboptimal outcomes beyond our means to repair.   Decisions should not be made to escalate or initiate commitments to Yemen in a politically-charged, reactive way.  And what ever is done had better take seriously the key political issues in the Gulf and Yemen -- where AQAP is only one small part of an extremely complex environment.
Sometimes less is more, and that insight from the COIN playbook, should be considered here.

For more sensible thoughts on Yemen, a place that only the Obama Administration and a few others were thinking about before the underwear bomber (best terrorist nickname ever?), go to

1 comment:

Bill Ayres said...

The dark purple quote ("the world is full of suboptimal outcomes beyond our means of repair") strikes me as the most important bit of wisdom here. I am afraid that US foreign policy is driven by a deep, underlying, unexamined assumption: that there is nothing in the world the US can't do or fix, if only we put our minds and our resources to it properly. This is a dangerous illusion, which goes back at least to Vietnam (and those who continue to exist we "could have won" there), and it is guaranteed to get anybody who holds it into a LOT of trouble, before it eventually breaks on the rocks of reality.