Carter is strikingly optimistic about the capabilities of African peacekeepers now fighting in Somalia and northern Mali. With the exception of Chadian troops, most of the African soldiers I saw in my weeks in Mali were under-equipped, poorly trained, and visibly uninterested in confronting the Islamist fighters they were nominally there to fight. Absent the French intervention, there’s no doubt that the African troops would have been defeated in any push to reclaim the north. America’s Africa strategy for more than a decade has been to do exactly what Carter proposes: cultivate relationships with friendly governments, give them hundreds of millions of dollars in military and financial aid, and then largely sit out the conflicts that erupt in Mali, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, and a host of other countries. The war weariness of the Obama administration means that this approach is unlikely to change anytime soon. But it should.
The Big Question
Readers respond to the October issue
Q: What was the greatest speech, historical or fictional, ever given?
Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s denunciation of Joseph McCarthy: “It is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching … on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America.”
Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator: “The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
On October 14, 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest. The bullet pierced a copy of the speech he went on to deliver.
Kevin Costner, Bull Durham: “I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”
William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1950: “The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”
JFK, April 1961: “The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society.”
Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday: “Life’s this game of inches.”
FDR, December 8, 1941: “A date which will live in infamy.”
The Gettysburg Address
Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”
Mel Gibson, Braveheart: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address, 1961: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence … by the military-industrial complex.”
Martin Luther King Jr., August 1963: “I have a dream.”
Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, April 1964: “It’s one or the other in 1964.”
Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s 1976 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention: “We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose: to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.”
Brad Pitt, Fight Club: “You are not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fuckin’ khakis.”
Kurt Russell, Miracle: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.”
Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster, June 2013
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