Thursday, January 07, 2010

Should we invade Yemen?

Its interesting that, among all the discussion about the "new front" in the War on Terror that is apparently Yemen, military solutions are the only ones being discovered.

Everyone pretty much agrees that Afghanistan got to where it did in September 2001 because of what happened after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. Namely, a failed state in a perpetual civil war which allowed radicals to take over and attack the United States.

If we could build a time machine and go back to 1990, what advice would you give President Bush (senior) about Afghanistan? Certainly the advice would not be "invade". Rather it would be something along the lines of, negotiate peace between warring factions, provide aid to build infrastructure and for education, encourage economic growth.

Yemen right now has a functioning government, which means it is in much better shape than Afghanistan was in 1990 (or is now, for that matter). There is some civil unrest going on, however, and that unrest seems like it could become more civil war-ish. Meanwhile, the country is as economically stagnant as anywhere in the world and is only going to get worse as oil exports out of Yemen plummet (and perhaps cease by 2017). The population is exploding with one of the highest growth rates in the world.

So here is an opportunity to prevent a rough, tribal Muslim country from becoming Afghanistan. If we brought diplomatic and economic forces to bear, we could really have a positive impact over the next couple of decades in Yemen. But pretty much all we hear on TV is whether we should be bombing or invading Yemen.

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