Posts Tagged ‘militarism’

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.

Stop the Cavalry

December 5, 2008

One of my favorite quasi-Christmas songs, particularly in light of the last few years. It was fun to find the video recently. Rather poignant.

Then Again…

March 29, 2008

…when I am reminded of McCain’s foreign policy, and the general attitude of the vast majority of the Republicans in that regard, the prospects of voting for McCain dim considerably. While I’m not certain either of the Democratic candidates are as willing to stand for an ethical foreign policy as I’d like, and Clinton seems very willing to take a belligerent stance when it suits her purposes, neither seem to relish the imperator role like their presumptive opponent.

Jeff Huber, retired Navy Commander, is a rather witty commentator on the military and politics in his blog Pen and Sword. He had some rather scathing thoughts on McCain’s recent faux-pas in Iraq.

It must be a kick in the head to base your claim to the presidency on your savvy in foreign affairs only to have it get out that Joe Lieberman knows more about them than you do. I bet it’s a lot like how I feel when my dog corrects my grammar in front of people.

One would like to think that Senator John McCain misspoke when he said in Jordan during his tour of the Middle East that the Iranians have been “taking Al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” He is, after all, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the GOP’s designated crown prince, so you’d think he’d be aware that the official rant is that Iran is training Shiite Iraqi militants, not the Sunni al Qaeda guys. But no, McCain made the Iran-al Qaeda accusation four times in just over three weeks, and it wasn’t until Lieberman cooed something in his ear that he said, “I’m sorry. The Iranians are training extremists, not Al Qaeda.”

The question is, of course, whether McCain is really that dumb and/or senile or if he’s just being a diligent echo chamberlain of the neoconservative agenda. It may be that he lives in a bubble even more opaque than the one Mr. Bush occupies. Then again, he may be a Cheney class Machiavellian. As historian and journalist Gareth Porter noted on March 22, “Sen. John McCain’s confusion in recent allegations of Iranian training of al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq is the result of a drumbeat of official propaganda about close Iran-al-Qaeda ties that the George W. Bush administration and neoconservatives have promoted ever since early 2002.”

Whatever the case, McCain is a key component of the disinformation campaign designed to revive the world order we thought we’d put out of its misery at the end of the 20th century (Pen and Sword, “McQaeda” ).

He also tackles Cheney’s duplicity regarding Al Qaeda and the administration’s simian chest-beating over Iran in the same post. Biting, but very shrewd.

Some Other Thoughts about the Presidential Election and Militarism

February 8, 2008

Romney’s “surrender” statement provides us yet another opportunity to reflect on foreign policy and militarism.

Jeff Huber of Pen and Sword, a retired Navy commander, looks at the attitude of the presidential candidates towards war and foreign policy in Blooper Tuesday.

Whatever line may have once demarked American foreign policies from domestic ones has vanished, probably forever. We cannot possibly address our internal woes effectively without some sort of workable solution to the overseas fiasco our Unitary George has created, but I’m somewhat pessimistic that the majority of our leading presidential hopefuls can provide that solution.

John McCain gives the promise of more war, even though war has devolved over the Bush decade into a degenerative tool of foreign policy. All Mitt Romney seems offer is a chance bribe the rest of the world into cooperating with us from his personal fortune, but even his pockets aren’t deep enough to pull off a stunt like that. As best I can tell, the crux of Mike Huckabee’s foreign policy plan involves having Chuck Norris beat up anybody who doesn’t do what we tell them to, and I fear Hillary Clinton will still be explaining how she didn’t really vote for the war in Iraq she voted for even as she explains how she didn’t really promise to get us out of it.

That leaves one viable candidate who might have a chance of hauling us out of the sand trap we’ve hooked our way into. So far, Barack Obama’s taste in foreign policy advisers (like Zbigniew Brzezinski) seems impeccable. Let’s just hope we never hear of him hunkering down with the likes of Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan.

Faithful Progressive looks at the lack of depth in the Conservative agenda revealed in Romney’s statement.

If Mitt Romney is the great hope of the conservative movement, it is a very shallow movement indeed–particularly when it comes to foreign policy and efforts to curb world-wide terrorist groups. Romney offered the American people only cheap and bellicose slogans rather than a coherent strategy to oppose al-Qaida. It is a mildly hopeful sign that even red-meat, rank-and-file Republicans rejected his one-liners and slogans.

…This is the most self-serving and ridiculous statement made by a Presidential candidate this year. Neither Democrat has talked about any such surrender where we have real interests at stake.

…This latest slogan–Democrats are for surrender– comes after his earlier promise to double the size of Guantánamo. How this would help the US national interest is unclear: Romney offered only slogans, not a policy…

…Now that the cheap slogan-eers are out of the race, perhaps Americans can have a real debate on whether or not we remain a Constitutional Republic.


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