You know the so-called Serenity Prayer, beloved of twelve-steppers, right?:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Walter Russell Mead says, in so many words, that we should use it as a guide to handling Islamist terrorism in north Africa and other flea-ridden backwaters. Excerpt:
We’ve got a problem here that neither liberal nor conservative boilerplate policy prescriptions can solve. Nor does a judicious mix—a few drones here, a few aid dollars there—look particularly hopeful. Some of this is going to have to be handled by selective “ignorage.” When you really can’t solve a problem you sometimes just have to learn to live with it, and a good part of what these pathetic losers are up to is of no concern to the wider world. When you get right down to it, Americans would strongly prefer that people everywhere lived in religiously tolerant democracies and that nobody anywhere ever mistreated a woman, stoned an adulteress, or hanged a homosexual. But it is equally true that the country isn’t prepared to launch into an eternal series of wars to save thieves from having their hands cut off in small African towns.
The art of policy is going to lie in figuring out what disagreeable activity we can safely ignore, and when these groups constitute a threat to us and our key allies (for example, in Europe).