Americans were taken hostage today in Algeria at a BP gas refinery, apparently by al Qaeda aligned terrorists as a reprisal for Algeria and allies supporting the Mali Army and French against them. That is according to multiple news reports.
Because this is an another instance of terrorists, apparently linked to al Qaeda, operating in the region, the circumstance will likely become a part of the political discussion in America. Republicans have criticized the administration for low-balling the al Qaeda threat while exaggerating success as part of the campaign.
Benghazi blew up at the wrong time, exposing security weaknesses in State Department operations. Since an ambassador and staff were killed, an investigation ensued revealing the need for stronger security.
While Americans needs to back off from costly operations in the Middle East, we cannot do that at the expense of the war against terrorists. Maybe, from this developing situation in Algeria and in cooperation with the French, America and allies can produce a more appropriate form security and intervention in the region that leverages advanced technology without such a heavy logistics footprint and military presence.
A strategy to strengthen local governments and security seems most appropriate. That gets to the issue of how many American troops are needed to accomplish that. In the instance of Afghanistan, we know we have to be respectful of the local government. If they get to the point of not wanting assistance, it is time to leave with the caveat, don’t allow circumstances that will cause us to return in force.