"Let nothing human be alien to me"- Terence

Monday, February 14, 2011

More US Training for Yemeni Military

From the AP...

Faced with an increasingly alarming threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the U.S. military will begin a new training program with Yemen's counterterrorism unit so it can move against militants believed to be plotting attacks on America from safe havens there.

I think, instinctually, this makes a lot of us nervous.  No one seriously questions Salih's willingness to use our arms and money and training against the people of Yemen.  I understand that CT is our main objective in Yemen, but we also ned to be careful not to let our actions destroy our reputation (further destroy) for another generation.  

However, and I know that this article only talks about elite counter-terrorism troops, one thing Egypt has demonstrated it is that military contacts at many levels can be an excellent counterweight to an entrenched and reality-deprived authoritarian.   Indeed, one could make the case that it is the threat of withholding friendship, in the form of scrilla, that could make an army say "it's time to go."   Its own sense of morality could do so as well, but let's not depend on the kindness of strangers. 

This isn't to say that dumping military aid into Yemen is the best thing to do to hedge against our becoming entangled in Salih's potential death-throes; it could easily backfire.  Odds are, it will.  (And the article's almost comically lonely throwaway paragraph, consisting of one sentence reading "the overall U.S. effort also includes economic and governance assistance" is a perfect illustration of the blinkered nature of our strategy.)   But I also think we shouldn't be so quick to jump the gun and getting nervous about these expanded contacts.  A professional military is more likely to be loyal to the state, and not just to the guy doling out money. 


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