Unfortunately when a foreign power embarks on a counterinsurgency and nation building campaign, it by definition becomes an occupying power and in reality conducts pacification with all the effects that usually accompany such a status. A concluding excerpt:
The intervention of foreign powers and their
support of existing corrupt, inefficient and
ineffective national elite in Third World
countries might buy those people some time,
but what it actually does, is make the
existing government stay in power longer,
not by its own strength and merit, but by
foreign assistance, such as counterinsurgency
trainers and advisers (as the EU
has recently committed to Mali). This
dependency on foreign assistance essentially
stunts local political evolution and cripples
the will of the people in less developed
countries to the extent that they cannot find
a native narrative on democracy or
liberalism by which they can live. They are
condemned to abide to the rule of Western
supported autocrats. Superimposed on this
scenario is the fact that the staying power of
foreigners in complex Third World struggles
is circumscribed by Western electoral
cycles, media support/criticism of the
mission at hand, and of course – money.
Therefore, intervening in the political affairs
of others is never a good idea.
The Inadequacy of Counter-Insurgency as 'Strategy'
This article suggests that counter-insurgency (COIN), as a strategic and operational art to ‘bring order’ to a restive population, has always been a failed policy option. The problem is that a foreign country, committing itself to rebuild or reshape another country’s political and social dynamics is a futile exercise. The author argues that no modern developed state has ever ‘won’ a counter-insurgency war at a strategic level. The paper expects that the foreign intervention in Mali will follow this pattern.
(Download the PDF paper at this link)