Happy New Year!

2010 is starting with a new country name added to our fear lexicon: Yemen.

Since the claim of responsibility from Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) for the failed Christmas Day plot to bomb a Detroit-bound flight, various “security experts” have invaded CNN, FOX, MSNBC and other cable news outlets trying  to explain Yemen to us: Why did this bombing attempt have a Yemeni connection? What brand of Islam is practiced in Yemen? How should we deal with Yemen?

That last question was actually flashed on CNN on New Year’s Day as some of these “experts” debated the options.   I know it’s almost a cliche now, but I always find it fascinating that we in the West, only seem to become interested in some of these small countries in faraway continents as a result of a war or a security scare of some kind. And as soon as that security scare or war ends or at least victory has been declared by our generals, we retreat. Our interest drops. Our media’s too. But while we’re not looking, the power dynamics in those countries changes. New chiefs  take the reigns of power. And just when we have completely forgotten about them, some nutcase causes mayhem somewhere in one of our cities and we call in the “experts” to tell us why they did what they did and “why they hate us”.

I don’t know how “we should deal with Yemen”. However, I don’t think I need the CNN experts with their graphs and maps to know that the solution to this problem is not another invasion as some are already advocating. There are all kinds of logistical reasons why that cannot even happen. The most glaring being US troop overstretch.

But while we are attempting to find solutions, perhaps keeping our history and geography books open at all times might be a nice starting point. This woud help us all understand the world around us and better grasp why “they” do what they do and why some of “our” actions or the consequences of our actions create the problems that we later have to solve.  Afghanistan is a perfect example. The US armed the mujahedeens to help the Afghans overthow the Soviets. Then the US advisors left. So did the money. As Tom Hanks (playing Texas Congresman Charlie Wilson) in Charlie Wilson’s War said: “We leave. We always leave.”  Then those mujahedeens became allied with the Taliban and took over that country. We were too busy with the dot-com growth and later bubble to pay attention. Then 9-11 happened. We called in the experts. “Why do they hate us?” What should we do about Afghanistan?” The armies of The West have been in Afghanistan for over 8 years. Now US Senator Joe Lieberman or Joe Liberman quoting somebody else is saying: “Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”

Please, No!