Helping struggling nations to survive is difficult but necessary

By Michael Gerson

The Washington Post

Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

And Americans — being Americans — are drawn toward technological solutions to political problems. Drones strike targets in Somalia and Yemen. This imposes one narrow form of order — the removal of specific threats — but it does not encourage political stability or improve local conditions.

All of these policy options can be appropriate, and are being applied, in various forms, by the Obama administration. The most important goal, however, is not to provide temporary substitutes for sovereignty but to strengthen that attribute itself. This is the opposite of colonialism — the building of local military and civil capacity and improving public health and economic growth. These are the most difficult tasks in development, and the easiest to cut in a budget retrenchment. They are also cheaper, in the long run, than constantly fighting to contain the chaos.

Michael Gerson's email address is michaelgerson@washpost.com.

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