Failing to Learn From Mistakes

International Herald Tribune, 31 January 2010

Regarding the article “Clinton takes tough stance on Yemen aid” (Jan. 29): The war in Afghanistan should have provided some important lessons for the Unites States: War is inherently unpredictable and almost always longer in duration than planned for; war is always more costly than expected; it requires sufficient resources and should have feasible objectives.

With these lessons in mind, it was surprising to read that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling on the world for urgent help in stabilizing Yemen. Once again, the United States is overestimating its ability to fundamentally change a society. America’s aims in Yemen are too ambitious, and U.S. leaders do not seem to realize that America’s involvement on this scale in another Islamic country will backfire.

Ingo Piepers, Amsterdam