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Mission creep on speed: British intervention in Mali and West Africa | Counterfire

This is mission creep on speed.

Two weeks ago we were told Britain would have no combat role in Mali and we would send just two transport planes. Now we are told the government is sending 350 British military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces.

Prime Minister David Cameron is “keen” for Britain to get more involved in war on a new continent. He sent national security advisor Sir Kim Darroch to Paris to discuss what help Britain could provide. He has personally phoned French Prime Minister Hollande to offer more help and he is “keen to continue to provide further assistance”.

The British government says it is prepared to send a “sizeable amount” of troops to provide military assistance to France. This is how major wars begin. In the early 1960s, the United States started with a few “special advisors”  in Vietnam. More than a decade later it left defeated, with over 50,000 American troops and at least two million Vietnamese killed.

Forgetting historical example is one thing. Ignoring the last few years is extraordinary. The disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and the attack on Libya — were presented as humanitarian operations, complete with images of cheering local populations greeting western intervention — soon replaced by the devastation of the countries and huge death toll for the people they were meant to “liberate”.

The spread of the “war on terror” to the Sahel region in Africa is a result of the chaos created by the Libyan intervention. It is also driven by the same motivations as previous wars, the desire to control vital energy reserves and other mineral resources. The region contains some of Europe’s most important energy sources.

The Mali intervention will end with the same results: destruction, loss of life and deep anger against the west.

How long before the presence of thousands of western troops in their old colonial stomping grounds inflames new violence and resistance?

Pentagon: Plans in Place to Seize Syria’s Chemical Weapons

US officials familiar with the situation say that the Pentagon has a contingency plan in place for seizing Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal should President Obama order them to do so, and that the plan involves sending “small teams” of special operations forces into Syria.

The idea that this could be accomplished with only “small teams” of ground troops is dramatically far afield of what officials were saying only last week, when they claimed that the plans involved a 50,000-60,000 strong occupation force just to secure weapons, and even more for “peacekeeping.”

Syria is known to have a chemical weapon arsenal, but exactly where and exactly how much is a matter of considerable speculation. Though the US claims to have some intelligence on the matter it is doubtful, particularly after the Iraq occupation, that they will prove particularly reliable.

Officials did not indicate what “small teams” meant in terms of numbers, or try to explain the difference from last week’s figures. It could reflect two different schools of thought inside the administration, or could simply be a way to get “some” troops on the ground by any means necessary and then later on use the larger estimates as an excuse to escalate.

(Source: jayaprada, via basedlenin-deactivated20120831)

Mission creep in Yemen

Last week the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. special operations troops, which were withdrawn from Yemen last year amid political turmoil in that country, have returned and are providing technical assistance to Yemeni forces. Meanwhile, at least 18 U.S. military and drone strikes have been reported against Islamist targets in Yemen since early March, a significant upsurge, and the CIA is active there. The administration also is trying to bolster Yemen’s new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, by authorizing the U.S. Treasury to freeze the assets of individuals who “threaten the peace, security and stability” of Yemen.

The number of American forces in Yemen is minuscule compared with the approximately 90,000 U.S. troops now deployed in Afghanistan (23,000 of whom will be withdrawn by the end of the summer). Troubling as they are for other reasons, including the possibility of civilian casualties, drone strikes against al-Qaida insurgents are not labor-intensive. Moreover, the administration is adamant that the recent increase in U.S. activity in Yemen doesn’t portend a major commitment of troops or resources. “That would not serve our long-term interests and runs counter to the desires of the Yemeni government and its people,” a spokesman for the National Security Council told the Times.

Given the experience of the United States in Afghanistan, where a mission to dislodge al-Qaida and the Taliban morphed into a decade-long exercise in counterinsurgency and nation-building, it is hardly alarmist to worry that similar mission creep might occur in Yemen, especially as the U.S. becomes more invested in the Hadi government. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula isn’t the only threat to the new regime. [++]

France and Italy Will Also Send Advisers to Libya Rebels

shortformblog:

jvbrewer:

Can you say “mission creep”? 

The moves to send military personnel have been likened by some critics to America’s decision to send military advisers to Vietnam, raising worries in both countries that they are being drawn closer to a conflict with no clear resolution on behalf of a fractious and militarily ineffective insurgent force about which little is known.

Government ministers from all three countries stressed that they did not plan to send ground troops to support the rebels.

Facing restive electorates and with their forces already deployed in Afghanistan, European governments want to be seen in strict compliance with the resolution, arguing that military advisers do not constitute an occupation force.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a temporary process? It seems like the line about Vietnam in this NYT article is enough to give a lot of folks — especially Americans — shivers.

(via shortformblog)