The U.S. has accepted a proposal by Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan to train as many as 7,000 conventional Libyan soldiers plus counterterrorist forces. What an exceedingly bad idea. This could put the Obama administration's Hope-and-Change bus on the road to a potential new fiasco in Libya. Think Benghazi -- except everywhere.
Speaking at the Reagan Presidential Library in California last week, the man who led the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, Admiral William McRaven of the U.S. Special Operations Command, could barely contain his enthusiasm for the opportunity: "As a country, we have to say there is probably some risk that some of the people we will be training with do not have the most clean record. At the end of the day, it is the best solution we can find to train them to deal with their own problems."
How stoked the admiral must be at the thought of providing the finest training American taxpayers can buy to foreign soldiers capable of bypassing the sort of rigorous background checks and enlistment standards to which his own domestic forces are subjected. The U.S. military does its best to prevent incidents like the one at Fort Hood, where a lone loon slipped through the cracks in the system and committed mass murder on an actual military base. But even domestically, background checks and other measures aren't foolproof. How effective would they be when researching foreign nationals in a terrorist hotbed? The FBI could run the names of all the Libyan recruits about to undergo U.S. military training and still wouldn't even be able to tell if they've shoplifted from Nordstrom, let alone if they intend to wage jihad.
The recruiting ground for Libyan trainees would be the very same nest that spawned the jihadists who murdered American Ambassador Christopher Stevens in cold blood. The country is a hodgepodge of terrorist groups: There are at least 13 official terrorist organizations in Libya, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism.
Direct military training that risks blowback in an already unstable country isn't the way to create lasting stabilization. Foreign direct investment and the presence of major multinational companies offering jobs, hope, reconstruction and infrastructure -- along with their very own ex-military security personnel -- is a solution that could foster long-term stability.
When citizens are given the opportunity to earn a living wage in the wake of conflict, a protective local community develops around the employer. This is particularly true in a country like Libya, where, according to Central Intelligence Agency statistics, about one-third of the population lives at or below the poverty line.