The future face of American warfare is very likely on display now in Africa. Libya, the coast off Somalia, and now the borderlands of Uganda—it’s a fair bet that these theaters of conflict, far more than Iraq or Afghanistan, foretell the shape of our military adventures. What this suggests is a return to the “advise and assist” missions of the Cold War, with international terrorists (or, on occasion, particularly hideous thugs) replacing international Communism as the predominant threat.
There are risks, of course, that such missions can escalate to full-scale fighting, especially if the “advisers” are “combat-equipped” and authorized to shoot in self-defense—as is the case with the that President Obama recently sent to help the Ugandan government beat back the rapacious insurgents of the preposterously titled Lord’s Resistance Army. These risks, though, are minimized as long as our aims are well-defined, our presence is necessary (and, better still, requested), the scope of operations is sharply limited, and the costs aren’t too onerous.