The US, France, UK and other European countries are engaged in a widening arc of military activities across Africa, the Middle East, western Asia and central Asia, some visible and some surreptitious. France’s incursion into Mali last week was a notable short-term success. Other actions have been costly failures. It is important to understand why.
Let us distinguish two main kinds of targets. The first are oil states, including Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Sudan, where the purposes of western actions are, of course, routinely obscured. The second are failed states, generally non-oil states in the region characterised by extreme poverty, hunger, massive population growth due to unchecked fertility rates, and extreme ethnic and clan divisions. Western achievements on both fronts are equally dismal.