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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:08 PM

Russ Feingold: Conflict in Mali shows US needs greater engagement in Africa

While I am pleased at reports of US cooperation with France to stop Islamist extremists Mali and run them out of Timbuktu, I remain concerned about the interrelated, widespread threat of terror in the region. America cannot afford to treat it as compartmentalized country-by-country issue.
By Russ Feingold / January 31, 2013
Stanford, Calif.

Many Americans have heard of the city called Timbuktu. Many have probably even used the expression “from here to Timbuktu,” as a cliché to explain that something is very, very far away. Until recently, not many Americans would have answered quickly or even correctly when asked where the city is, or what country it is in. But front-page news events over the past weeks and months may have changed Americans’ awareness of the famous city of Timbuktu, and the northern African country of Mali.

And it’s an awareness they cannot afford to lose. Preventing attacks on our soil and against Americans all over the world demands that we pay attention to developments in Mali, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan and other key – sometimes volatile – countries in northern Africa. And there are many other nations and regions that could threaten our security.

While I am pleased at reports of US military and intelligence cooperation with France and other countries to aid the efforts to stop these extremists from their path of destruction in Mali, I remain as concerned as I was following a trip I made to northern African in 2005. Combating such a widespread, interrelated threat requires cooperation to proactively address and prevent terror. America cannot afford to address this national security priority as if it were a compartmentalized country-by-country threat.

In 2005, as a US senator from Wisconsin and ranking member of the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I visited Mali and wrote about my visit in this publication. At the time, I wrote that, “if we want a less threatening future, we Americans need to get in the game, increase our diplomatic presence, listen to the people on the ground, and combine widespread, quick-impact development projects with long-term investments in fighting corruption and promoting the rule of law.”

More: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2013/0131/Conflict-in-Mali-shows-US-needs-greater-engagement-in-Africa


Russ Feingold - Leading from the front in world affairs - how I miss having him in the Senate.

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Reply Russ Feingold: Conflict in Mali shows US needs greater engagement in Africa (Original post)
ellisonz Jan 2013 OP
patrice Jan 2013 #1
ellisonz Jan 2013 #3
patrice Jan 2013 #7
ellisonz Jan 2013 #9
patrice Jan 2013 #19
ellisonz Jan 2013 #21
patrice Jan 2013 #28
ellisonz Jan 2013 #31
nick of time Jan 2013 #2
Puzzledtraveller Jan 2013 #4
RILib Jan 2013 #5
ellisonz Jan 2013 #6
patrice Jan 2013 #8
Fight2Win Jan 2013 #10
ellisonz Jan 2013 #11
Fight2Win Jan 2013 #20
ellisonz Jan 2013 #22
Robb Jan 2013 #12
ellisonz Jan 2013 #15
msongs Jan 2013 #13
KG Jan 2013 #14
hooverville29 Jan 2013 #30
Taverner Jan 2013 #16
patrice Jan 2013 #25
Taverner Jan 2013 #26
patrice Jan 2013 #29
Tierra_y_Libertad Jan 2013 #17
Enrique Jan 2013 #18
ellisonz Jan 2013 #24
patrice Jan 2013 #23
EastKYLiberal Jan 2013 #27

Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:21 PM

1. "engagement"? Does the last paragraph in this excerpt include the possibility of drones ifnecessary?

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:40 PM

3. When I searched just now for his position on the use of armed drones...

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:19 PM

7. If we are arming these, perhaps/perhaps not, freedom fighters, directly or indirectly, why should

the local powers that be destabilize themselves, politically and economically, to go get them and put an end to this stuff? If that's how politics is done in their countries and we are messing with that for our own reasons, how can we expect the indigenous leadership to do anything about it? Even if they could "succeed" perhaps there's a price for that that they choose not to pay.

I think a basic driver to how we are "the policemen of the world" is the fact that we are arming the world. Maybe Russ Feingold is a realist about this, hence, selective support for drones, but I'd bet also that his position is against our "Fast and Furious" assault weapons and other arms' markets around the world.

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Response to patrice (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:28 PM

9. US involvement in Mali has been limited to...

...training and equipping with vehicles and other gear the legitimate security forces of the elected and transitional governments of Mali. I agree, when the United States provides weapons through non-state controlled organizations there is a problem. However, I think many of these situations are damned if you do damned if you don't. If a realist is a person knows perfection isn't going to happen and isolationism isn't a policy, then I am a realist like Russ Feingold.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #9)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:55 PM

19. Peace is not served by people being attacked and killed, even if we are just the innocent bystanders

, which we haven't been, so there's still blowback from all of that.

That makes us vulnerable to those who need "the policemen of the world" and it makes those who need "the policemen of the world" vulnerable to us.

The basis of those relationships MUST change if this is ever going to have a chance to work. We need to get money and religion OUT of it, but I can hear screams of New World Order even now, before there is anything remotely new even on the hypothetical horizon.

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Response to patrice (Reply #19)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:01 PM

21. Have you followed what has gone on in Mali?

I have, these "insurgents" that are being rousted are brutal, criminal thugs who want nothing but the power to terrorize the civilian population to enrich themselves - they have revolutionized hostage taking for ransom and they don't give a damn about the lives of the *all of the people* of Mali - this action was precipitated by their continual military advance south. It has been sanctioned by the UN, AU and ECOWAS. The French troops will within probably the next year be completely replaced by an ECOWAS sponsored peace-keeping force.

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #21)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:28 PM

28. Thanks for the info. I bet that "business" model is not that uncommon & pretty marketable outside of

that milieu once it is established.

What troubles me is how just sheer cussedness, and not much more, can get some folks into similar situations. Of course there are clearly identifiable limits when criminal behavior occurs, but, I'm sorry, I have to say some people are not suited for the potentialities of peace by their intelligence and temperaments. Yep, they're just too stupid to get along, so aren't we setting ourselves up for more Un-Ending War, since we can't control how sovereign host countries react to "the bloody minded" in their midst?

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Response to patrice (Reply #28)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 06:15 PM

31. The "sovereign host country" has requested this intervention...

...and it's hopefully going to bring some peace to a long-troubled area. I tend to generally think that the presence of an international force puts some limit on "the settling of scores" that happens in these sorts of conflicts. If you look at the attempts at international intervention that have completely failed to accomplish their mission it is generally for two reasons - no legitimate partner group in the host country and tepid international support. I for one, also believe that when we signed the UN Convention on Genocide we meant what we signed - our failures should be lessons, not scarlet letters.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:25 PM

2. Wow. This from Russ Feingold.

 

I've always liked the man for his no nonsense approach to world affairs. Wish he would make another run for the Senate. We need people like him in the Senate.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 01:43 PM

4. sigh

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:08 PM

5. No, the U.S. does not need greater engagement in Africa.

 

It was the U.S. taking out Qaddhafi that resulted in a flood of Libyan weapons into the war in Mali that resulted in the current mess.

The U.S. (Hi, Hillary and Obama) touched it, they broke it, they should leave it alone, not snarl it up worse. Unless they want to personally volunteer, of course, I'm okay with that.

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Response to RILib (Reply #5)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:18 PM

6. Gaddafi had flooded Africa with weapons and trained militants for decades!

Many of these fighters were fighters for Gaddafi. Fuck Gaddafi. May he rot in hell.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:26 PM

8. Remembering what looked recently an awful lot like test-marketing to me: Kony 2012. nt

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:29 PM

10. wasn't it our involvement that caused the problem in the first place

 



no wonder the Pentagon and Homeland Security do not want to be audited...

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Response to Fight2Win (Reply #10)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:31 PM

11. No.

Please post quality links to support your position that it was "our involvement that caused the problem in the first place."

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Response to ellisonz (Reply #11)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:58 PM

20. ok

 

To the dismay of the US, junior Malian officers trained as part of $620m pan-Sahelian counter-terrorism initiative launched in 2002 to help four semi-desert states resist Islamic militancy took part in a coup in March last year. Others among them defected to the Tuareg revolt that eventually led to a coalition of Islamist militias, allied with Algerian militants from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, capturing the northern two-thirds of Mali.

Potentially, these US-trained officers are now using US counter-insurgency knowhow against France’s intervention force.

“It is a great failure,” says Dr Berny Sèbe, an expert in Franco-African relations at the University of Birmingham. “Some of them defected. Others organised a coup.

In two of the three other Sahelian states involved in the Pentagon’s pan-Sahelian initiative, Mauritania and Niger, armies trained by the US, have also taken power in the past eight years. In the third, Chad, they came close in a 2006 attempt.

“One of the things I think we’ve learnt is that it’s not sufficient to focus exclusively on tactical activities. We’re very, very good in training and technical matters,” he said. But, he added: “We’ve got to spend more attention at the senior leader levels to talk more about the real role of militaries in free societies.”



http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a9ebaa02-6191-11e2-9545-00144feab49a.html&sa=U&ei=asoKUYDzFqTVigKU7oGQAg&ved=0CBwQqQIwAA&usg=AFQjCNE4FzMlbRncgpT7jUWapq1HM_hLXA

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Response to Fight2Win (Reply #20)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:07 PM

22. They defected after they were encircled with no promise of relief.

Decisions made under duress hardly constitute evidence of willful choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Malian_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat - occurred because of the security failure of the central government.

It is nothing but a mirage to believe this part of the world would be more stable if the international community did nothing.

I would note that many of these insurgencies took root before the US offered assistance.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:35 PM

12. DU already threw Feingold under the bus on Uganda in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Feingold has forgotten more about Africa than most of us will ever know.

We would be wise to listen.

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Response to Robb (Reply #12)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:44 PM

15. "We would be wise to listen."

...

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:36 PM

13. dear Russ, don your uniform, pack yer bags, and drag your own butt over there to fight ok? nt

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:38 PM

14. wrong on this one. really, really wrong.

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Response to KG (Reply #14)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:53 PM

30. And, in addition, on this one he's really wrong

 

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:49 PM

16. HELL NO!

 

It's time we stopped engaging in other countries' bs

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Response to Taverner (Reply #16)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:16 PM

25. We DO use and GET USED in return. Is that inevitable, or is that more obsolete paradigm stuff

empowered by a long history of Plausible Deniabilities that are more the actual purpose of those efforts themselves.

Just trying to think this out here, wondering if it is possible to "take our ball and go home" after so many decades of setting this stuff up.

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Response to patrice (Reply #25)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:17 PM

26. Yes and it is a failed approach

 

We shouldn't be the world's police

But that's my opinion

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Response to Taverner (Reply #26)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:38 PM

29. I think there is GREAT potential to get used if we're the "policemen of the world" & then there are

those of us who will feel that since we get used, we should use others right back . . .

I don't think that's inevitable, but I also don't know how anything has actually changed to make it authentically different. It's the same cycle over and over again. Maybe some smarter, more honest, people would make a difference. I don't know. Probabilities can be reduced and that could be worthwhile, but they're never zero, so anyone who's against a new paradigm can always come back with another form of 9/11, somewhere/anywhere, as justification for more regression, instead of actual for real change.

To me either side of this dynamic could be characterized as that big bad bugaboo "The New World Order" whether it actually is or not and no matter what benefit it produces for however many billions of people.

It's a dilemma.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:53 PM

17. Getting involved in civil wars has worked so well in....Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan,......

Yemen, Somalia, Honduras, Nicaragua......

And a host of others that we decided to "help".

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 02:54 PM

18. he isn't talking about military engagement

he is talking about diplomatic engagement. If it were a neocon talking, or a neoliberal hawk talking, I might interpret that as meaning military. But it's not, so I think he's really talking diplomatic.

I agree with him on the need for more interest in Africa. The media and the Congress had an opportunity with the change of Sec. of State to examine our policy in Africa but they are mostly blowing it. The 60 minutes interview for example, or Clinton's testifying, or the John Kerry hearings. Africa wasn't brought up nearly enough.

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Response to Enrique (Reply #18)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:14 PM

24. He's certainly not ruling it out completely...

I couldn't easily find a statement from him on Libya, but here's Feingold on the deployment of military forces in Uganda to assist in destroying the LRA:

The author of that legislation, former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., told ABC News in a statement that “our legislation did not authorize the use of force by American troops anywhere,” but he noted that the bill “did call for a comprehensive approach in dealing with the Lord’s Resistance Army, which includes military, intelligence, diplomatic, and development components.”

Feingold said, “If the military advisors being deployed by the President are being used to facilitate information and intelligence sharing, including among regional militaries, that is consistent with part of what our bill was seeking. But that mission should be just one piece of a larger strategy that focuses on civilian protection in the broadest sense.”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/10/activists-react-to-president-sending-troops-to-africa/

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:10 PM

23. IF this MUST happen i.e. IF it's possibly the least death & destruction of ALL scenarios??? I don't

see how that could be true, unless it is accompanied by authentic nuclear disarmament, which I rather doubt as our newly downsized THEATER nukes lend themselves rather well to situations that are no longer suitable for our also downsized military.

I fear the inclination to support war, as long as individual persons don't have to make that commitment to whatever issue so deeply as to go in harm's way, morphing from our own blood, into robots doing "our" bidding in the name of things to which the people's own commitment is something waaaaaaaaaaaaay less than authentic.

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Response to ellisonz (Original post)

Thu Jan 31, 2013, 03:22 PM

27. We've made some huge blunders in foreign policy...

 

But that doesn't discount every future venture.

There's some things that can only be resolved by us stepping in...

It has taken me awhile to come to this conclusion.

But the sooner you do away with absolutism in your ideology, the better.

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