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Rathmell: It is high time to get serious about following the indirect approach

Andrew Rathmell, a two tour British veteran of civilian duty in Iraq, said at the UNC-Chapel Hill conference that with the massive costs of direct intervention increasingly apparent, we need to become serious about carrying out the indirect approach, such as better training of foreign militaries and police forces. I think he is right. The ...

US Army Africa/flickr
US Army Africa/flickr

Andrew Rathmell, a two tour British veteran of civilian duty in Iraq, said at the UNC-Chapel Hill conference that with the massive costs of direct intervention increasingly apparent, we need to become serious about carrying out the indirect approach, such as better training of foreign militaries and police forces. I think he is right.

The key task in the coming decades, he said, is “helping to police these zones of disorder.” If the indirect approach really is the way to go, Rathmell noted, then that has significant implications for foreign policy (like more focus on bolstering weak states) and on the structure of major Western militaries.

Alas, where was the latest QDR on this issue?

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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