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Thu Jan 31, 2013, 08:46 AM

Obama administration learns that ‘leading from behind’ is the right place for the U.S.

By Walter Pincus, Published: January 30

If Mali is any example, “leading from behind” is the right policy choice for the United States to follow in most of today’s international confrontations with what is now termed “terrorism.”

The Obama administration’s actions in the past months reflect it has learned some hard lessons from the United States’ 11 years fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The wars have cost the nation 6,300 U.S. lives, 50,300 casualties among American service personnel and about $1.3 trillion.

What’s one lesson?

“The best-intentioned foreign intervention is bound to bog its armies down in endless wars fighting invisible enemies to help ungrateful locals,” as the Economist magazine frankly wrote in its Jan. 26 issue.

Sound familiar?

How about what then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told West Point cadets almost two years ago: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it.”



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