To the editor:
Ominously but unsurprisingly, the U.S. military's Africa Command wants to increase its footprint in northwest Africa. What began as low-profile assistance to France's campaign to wrest control of northern Mali (a former colony) from unwelcome jihadists could end up becoming something more.
The Washington Post reports that Africom "is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa [probably Niger] so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region." But before that word "surveillance" can bring a sigh of relief, the Post adds, "For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens."
The point is that intervention is ultimately self-defeating, because it creates the enemies the government says it seeks to defeat. The way to obtain resources is through peaceful market purchases.
On the other hand, "humanitarian intervention," however alluring, must be rejected. Saving Malians from violent jihadists in itself is a worthwhile cause, but the U.S. government can't do it without using force against innocent people, including American taxpayers.
This is the treacherous web that empire weaves. The U.S. military is too blunt an instrument for such complex situations. American security lies in nonintervention.