Posts Tagged ‘interventionism’

Somalia Revisited

December 8, 2008

A couple of years ago, I wrote the post “Somalia and U.S. tendencies in Foreign Policy.” In the essay, I criticized the US response to the turmoil in Somalia. That response involved support for warlords against the Islamic Courts Union, which had recently formed a government and begun to establish some semblance of peace in Mogadishu and the surrounding area. Given that the ICU and the Somalia Muslim community was considered by most experts to be rather moderate, I insisted that the U.S. policy of undermining the ICU was ultimately self-defeating.

Since that time, the U.S. made a change. Sadly the change was only tactical, not policy. Rather than relying on Somalian thugs, the administration heavily supported Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia to oust the ICU.

And as one might well have guessed, US intervention in Somalia—albeit by proxy—has been about as successful as their other fronts on the “War on Terror.” The latest reports indicate Ethiopia has failed dismally to erect any sort of peace through their occupation. It should not be terribly shocking that Somalians do not appear to appreciate the intervention of a historic nemesis, and have galvanized quite an insurgency. Ethiopia is unable to maintain the occupation, announcing that they will withdraw shortly. Worst of all, the conflict has greatly strengthened the hands of radical Islam. The militant Al-Shabaab has taken the reigns of the Muslim movement in Somalia, winning control of the southern regions and creeping northward. Foreign radicals have flocked to Al Shabaab’s aid.

How long until we realize that interventionist policies do not succeed? How many times must we kick the hornet nests before we learn?

If neo-con grand-poobah Bill Kristol has his way, at least once more. Using the escalation of Somalian piracy as an excuse (can anyone doubt that the fiasco shoreside has something to do with rise in piracy?), Kristol recommends that the president invade.

…perhaps he [President Bush] could tell various admirals to stop moaning about how difficult it would be to deal with the pirates off the coast of Somalia (isn’t keeping the shipping lanes open a core mission of the Navy?) and order the Navy to clobber them. If need be, the Marines would no doubt be glad to recapitulate their origins and join in by going ashore in Africa to destroy the pirates’ safe havens (“Before He Goes,” Weekly Standard)

Retired Navy Commander Jeff Huber heaps well-earned scorn on Kristol’s hair-brained scheme.

It was only a matter of time before Long Bill Kristol and his scurvy dogs of war used piracy as an excuse to goad young Mr. Bush into invading one last country before the door hits him. In the latest gurgitation of the Weekly Standard, Bill suggests that the best thing young Mr. Bush can do in his final days as commander-in-chief is send the Marines into Somalia to deep-six those pesky buccaneers. Now: if we can’t identify and capture pirates while they’re plundering ships on the bounding main, I’d like to know how the yo-ho-ho Bill thinks the Marines can tell the pirates from the rest of the poor starving Somalis once they go ashore.

Bill also remarks how Bush can do the nation a service “by reminding Americans of our successes fighting the war on terror.” One wonders if Bill is no fooling unaware that terrorists are on the verge of a sparking war between two nuclear powers, or that a congressionally mandated task force has reported that “it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013,” or that, according to the respected analysts at the Rand Corporation, Mr. Bush’s pursuit of a military-centric counter-terror strategy “has not undermined al Qaeda” and that the terrorist group “has remained a strong and competent organization.”

One would hope that given the enormous influence he wields, Bill is at least partially cognizant of the world around him, that he just talks that way because he’s a master of Socratic dialectic who recites gibberish until people agree with him so he shuts up…

Seemingly aware of his limitations, Long Bill normally delegates the hardcore humbuggery required of any given subject to one of his more gifted mateys, and the pirate issue is no exception. Seth Cropsey’s “To the Shores of Tripoli…” is a standard neocon compendium of fuzzy premises and fear and loathing and the sort of logic that insists ear is to hearing as nose is to face.

The first thing that struck me about the piece was Cropsey’s apparent alarm over the estimated $30 million ransom money the Somali pirates raked in this year. Cropsey must have shared a cryogenic chamber with Dr. Evil. We’re chaffing $10 freaking billion into Iraq every month, which isn’t a pismire compared to the $7 freaking trillion we’re going to spend trying to fix the freaking economy, and Cropsey wants to send the Marines ashore for $30 measly million that didn’t even belong to us?

…Only slightly less ludicrous is Cropsey’s admonition that “Americans ought to know the limits of relying on naval power alone to stop piracy as a result of the nation’s experience in the Barbary Coast wars.” Comparing the present Somali pirate situation to our Barbary Coast wars of the early nineteenth century is as tidy an apples-to-elephants analogy as you’ll ever find…

…Thomas Jefferson’s America also didn’t possess a couple fistfuls of fixed wing aircraft carrier strike groups, two of which, with their E-2 Hawkeye surveillance aircraft and the rest of their air wings, could turn the whole Indian Ocean into a no-pirate zone faster than you can say “Avast.” Yeah, at first blush it’s overkill to use more than $10 billion worth of carrier and air wing and escorts to stop a few measly millions worth of piracy, but what else do the carrier groups have to do right now: bomb Muslim weddings in the Bananastans? Heck, the Navy’s got cruise missile equipped nuclear submarines to bomb Muslim weddings with.

And if it ever happens that the nuclear submarines can’t bomb Muslim weddings any more because, oh, what…because they run out of fuel when the Iranians go and gobble up the whole world’s supply of uranium, say, well we have a whole separate service branch that pick up the Muslim wedding bombing slack. It’s called the Air Force, which has these really, really expensive things called, oddly enough, bombers.

…Plus, if the Navy can solve the pirate problem, there’s no need to get our land forces tangled up in another pointless quagmire, which Cropsey admits a Somali invasion would be. “Somalia’s descent into turmoil began almost two decades ago,” he writes, and is “unlikely to be reversed” by military intervention.

…And as if the article weren’t already sufficiently stunning, Cropsey closes with the neocons’ favorite propaganda ploy, the taunt. Failing to hit the beaches of North Africa “will increase the jihadists’ contempt for us.” Psst. Ahmed over there just called you a booger nose. What are you going to do about it??

Thanks for the info, Crops. Oh, did Ahmed tell you your fly is open?

It’s well and good to have a good laugh at Kristol’s unholy crew of blobs, buffoons and bull feather merchants. They not only deserve ridicule, they demand it. It is vital to the continued health of our nation that we lay bare the absurdities inherent in the neoconservative philosophy early and often and forever.

But it’s also imperative to remember that this collection of ideological sideshow amusements steered our ship of state and dictated the fates of nations for eight years, and that some of the people in Barack Obama’s national security team still take them seriously (“Shiver Me Neocons,” Pen and Sword, emphases in the original).

Let us pray that Bush isn’t delusional enough to consider Kristol’s advice. Let us also hope that Obama will be true to his word to provide change; change from the policies of interventionism which so many of his predecessors have foolishly pursued. In this time of global economic struggle and international tension, the world cannot afford the consequences of more of the same.


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