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Neocons Trigger Humanitarian Disaster in Somalia

The BBC has the story about the most recent humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the neoconservatives in their pursuit of establishing an "American Caliphate" in the Middle East:

The once-bustling streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, are now eerily empty.

The southern neighbourhoods are littered with the scars of recent fighting between the insurgents and Ethiopian-backed forces of the transitional government.

Ethiopian tanks have taken up positions outside the houses of the hundreds of thousands of residents who have fled the city - estimated to be 60% of the city's population.

60% is about 600,000 people. This story gets zero coverage in the American media, and for that reason I think it's important to explain what is going on in Somalia and how the neoconservatives are primarily responsible.

In December of 2006, the United States sponsored and coordinated the invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian forces targeting an Islamic fundamentalist group known as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) who had taken over much of the country and the capital of Mogadishu. Thousands were killed in the ensuing fighting that resulted in the defeat of the ICU and the dispersal of its fighters. American AC-130 gunships even participated in the fighting despite the fact that there was no debate in Congress and no declaration of war as required by the Constitution.

The situation has now devolved into a protracted guerrilla war that has trapped the occupying Ethiopian forces in Somalia with no easy avenue for withdrawal. As in Iraq, many analysts maintain that the government installed by the occupying forces in Somalia would collapse in a matter of days without the massive presence of a foreign occupying force. While Secretary of State Rice has been trying to spur the deployment of an African peacekeeping force, the Ethiopians are growing increasingly uncomfortable with their position:

"Ethiopia has single-handedly been playing its role by bearing the huge responsibility that the international community and countries failed to accomplish in collaboration or individually," an official statement from the government said on Tuesday, "The deployment of the peacekeeping force was among the major pledges made by the international community. However, deployment of the peacekeeping contingent was not carried out as promptly and as it was expected."

Maybe the Ethiopian government should have thought twice before it became an extension of Bush's neoconservative army that is waging jihad in the Muslim world?

Meanwhile, the fighters of the ICU have melted into the population where they continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks, assassinations, and road-side bombings designed to slowly bleed the Ethiopians. The Islamists reject the puppet government that has been installed by the Ethiopians at the behest of their American masters.

"There is no government we recognize because there is no government set up by the Somali people...they [government] were built by colonialists," Indha Ade added.

The Islamists are backing up their rhetoric with advances on the ground:

Bule Burte, a strategic town in central Somalia, has fallen out of government hands, residents said, and a militia allied to the Islamist movement is in control. The militia forced out government troops after a clan-related dispute.

International aid organizations like the ICRC are struggling to cope with the monumental disaster precipitated by the neoconservative intervention in Somalia. And the UN has issued an appeal for $406 million in 2008 to help the destitute Somalis who have been driven from their homes by the fighting. Doctors Without Borders also issued a statement:

Underscoring the depth of the crisis in Somalia, the aid group Doctors Without Borders released a statement late Tuesday saying recent fighting had spurred a new exodus from the capital Mogadishu. It said there are about 200,000 displaced people living in miserable conditions along the road from Mogadishu to the city of Afgooye.

Congratulations neocons. You've once again succeeded in creating new recruits for Islamic extremist movements who will undoubtedly be attacking Americans and American interests for decades to come. Of course, maybe that has been your plan all along?

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Comments (1)

The case of Somalia, which you have so well summarized, fits in with Iraq, Afghanistan, and--a generation ago--Lebanon. War seems to be steadily rising in popularity among decision makers as the conflict resolution method of choice. The long, dark decades of Cold War fear are receding into our subconscious, while our frustration with the current global contest between radical Islamic nationalists and hardline neocolonial elites grows. Yet those who counsel caution and consideration for others are on both sides pilloried as "traitors" or sneered at as "naïve." At the same time, leaders repeatedly make--with impunity--outrageously inflammatory threats about the options they will put "on the table," the international equivalent of falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

There is no doubt that this contest matters. The choice of caliphate run according to the most restrictive interpretations of sharia law, a world of democratic choice and local differentiation, or the mindless regimentation of the totalitarian national security state has real consequences for "us." But victory of the middle choice--the flexible, creative but uncertain system that rests on the cautious and considerate participation of everyone--is by no means preordained.

However, is war the answer?

A quick 1991 invasion, a dozen years of sanctions and air war, followed in 2003 by a second invasion and four more years of anti-insurgency war have effectively destroyed Iraq. The country simply no longer exists by any reasonable definition of the term. If the goal was to remove a dictator or destroy Iraq as a Mideast power or take control of its oil or acquire a military base, then war worked. If the goal was for Iraq to become a stable U.S. ally; to acquire reliable access to a flood of Iraqi oil; or to create a peaceful, democratic society, then war failed. And if anyone still thinks the war was about al Qua'ida, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was the fulfillment of al Qua'ida's dreams.

In Afghanistan, opium production is booming, and the Taliban insurgency is spreading because of continuing social and economic injustice. If the goal was to destroy al Qua'ida, the war failed, as well. Both as a functioning organization and as a vision with the power to motivate people, al Qua'ida seems very much alive five years later. As a means of creating a moderate, functioning society that can participate positively in the global political system or at least take care of itself without presenting a threat to that system, war in Afghanistan has clearly been counterproductive.

Lebanon, where Hezballah arose as a nationalist uprising against Israel plus Islamic political movement, stands in the background as a warning about the long-term consequences of more recent events elsewhere. A generation after those Lebanese events, Hezballah is the most effective political party in Lebanon, is credited with having forced Israel to retreat after a 19-year occupation, faced a new Israeli onslaught in 2006 only to emerge with a stalemate that amounted to a victory, and is in the midst of a peaceful campaign to enhance its political power within the Lebanese government. Hezballah is also an organization with the clear military capacity for violence and the clear political potential for a degree of radicalism many might find discomforting.

Lebanon presents a powerful model for the result of invading a Moslem society a generation later. The destruction, frustration, and anger of an invasion generates the rise of radical sociopolitical movements. How closely will the Hezballah model be applied to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia over the next generation? In each country today, Islamic radicalism and nationalism are being mixed in a potent brew.

In sum, invading Moslem societies today does not effectively create democracy, solve social problems, make resources available, or prevent a country from provoking international instability. Moreover, if an organization exists that wants to create a war of civilizations between Islam and the West, then it will thrive in Moslem societies that have been wrecked and perceive the West to be responsible. A vacuum exists in such societies - a solution vacuum, a social services vacuum, a security vacuum. If these vacuums are not filled by responsible, caring government, they will be filled by extremists. War just makes the vacuums larger and more vulnerable to extremist pressure.

In the modern, highly connected, and highly ideological world, war between the West and Moslem societies aggravates the problems Western proponents of violence claim to be resolving. War breeds extremism.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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