On the same day as President Obama’s State of the Union address, a team of Navy Seals rescued two hostages from a criminal gang in Somalia. Does this mean that the United States will intervene further in the troubled African nation?
Don’t count on it.
The American public is feeling worn down by our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is virtually no appetite to launch a large scale invasion in Africa. Furthermore, the American military establishment still has bad memories of the disastrous 1993 intervention there that left 27 dead.
Even if the United States was in a better morale and could afford the financial burden of a third war, regional security has largely been delegated to other forces from the African Union, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Our military has decided to leave the fight against Al Shabab in the hands of East African forces.
Operations like those conducted by the Navy Seals allow the President to take a tough stand against kidnapping and piracy without a large military investiture. This militarized approach to piracy is no cure all though, military patrols have often dispersed the problem over a wider area making anti-piracy efforts more difficult.