In the pursuit of victory in the elusive Global War On Terror (GWOT) the us justifies actions against Islamic fundementalist groups such as Al Qaeda and Al Shabab as legal under the international rules of war - the targeting of elected combatants within the defined theatre (in the GWOTs case the whole world). However, their blinkered view of their actions means they often miss the issue arising from following the warpath too closely.
Somalia is an excellent example; in the last few years the US has bnegun using drones, strike fighters and special forces operatives in an ongoing struggle against the terrorist group Al Shabab who control much of southern Somalia. In doing so, they argue they also help the Transitonal Ferderal Government and the forces of the African Union, kenya and Ethiopia in creating a secure Somalia. I would raise severla problems with this strategy:
- The issue of sovereignty
- The alienation of allies
- The alienation of civilians
- Military/aid balence
The US, in its hunt for terrorists, is also at risk of alienating allies and other states. Pakistan has already expressed dissatisfaction with the continued abuse of its border with Afghanistan by US forces and while one Somali minister went as far as welcoming air strikes the backlash against the statement may demonstrate that it is not the prevailing opinion. America does not have enough friends that it can afford to lose them over disputes about sovereignty and the abuse of military power.
Within the states targeted their is also an issue. Ordinary citizens fear American attacks because of the repeated loss of mass civilian life in US bombing raids. The lack of apology or restitution for these war-crimes-in-all-but-name has also turned feeling against the US, and against its allies. this can become a serious problem if America's casual and unapologetic killing of innocent people pushes citizens back into the arms of extremist groups and against democratic agents and governments.
The GWOT has also mean that one of the richest nations on Earth believes that military expenditure in the endless hunt for yet more extremists is a better way of 'helping' weak states than actually providing support and financial aid. In short America is conducting a war without boundaries or rules, a show conflict where they cannot be brought to account and paradoxically may be harming their cause more than helping it if they continue on this road of uncaring military force.