Shells pounded Mogadishu on Saturday, killing at least 73 people to swell a death-toll already in the hundreds from this week's battles pitting militias and Islamists against Somali and Ethiopian troops.
The escalating war has also sent more than 321,000 residents fleeing in the biggest refugee movement in Somalia since the 1991 fall of a dictator ushered in 16 years of anarchy.
Lest anyone start bringing out the tired old line of "It's Africa", let me remind us all that this war need not have happened. It is more than likely that Ethiopia not only started this war with the US's blessing, but with our backing. If you don't believe that our government would do such a thing, you haven't read the latest story about the US allowing Ethiopia to buy military equipment from N. Korea.
Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country’s nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.
Why would they do this? Because of the Bush ideology that all Islam is bad.
But the arms deal is an example of the compromises that result from the clash of two foreign policy absolutes: the Bush administration’s commitment to fighting Islamic radicalism and its effort to starve the North Korean government of money it could use to build up its nuclear weapons program.
Not that fighting Islamic radicalism is a bad thing, although we needn't focus so much on Islam when there are plenty of Christians hell-bent on destroying our government (watch Jesus Camp). But no matter who we're fighting or for what reason, we shouldn't be compromising ourselves for the sake of convenience. It's not a good precedent, and it's not good politics. I'm not going to quote the whole article here, but it's clear that this exception was made solely because the Ethiopians are fighting the Somali insurgents. In other cases we've been quite strict with the sanctions against N. Korea.
Back to the original point:
With the world startlingly quiet on the Somali crisis, beyond general appeals for calm, the Arab League followed the United Nations on Saturday to appeal for an end to violence.
"Startlingly quiet"? I don't find it so startling. The US will look the other way as long as Ethiopia is keeping the Somali Islamists busy. We don't care how many die or who they are. As long as no Americans die, it just doesn't matter. Long gone are the days when we'd send a humanitarian force to a place like Somalia. And with the US being the world leader in humanitarian causes, if we're not there, nobody else will be. Lazy asses we may be, but our European counterparts are chickenshits about cleaning up the messes they caused (and have no doubt, they're the reason people say, "It's Africa".)
Yes, we started yet another war for no interests other than our own. Hundreds or even thousands of people have already died (there's no way to keep count), and hundreds and thousands more will die. There's virtually no way to stop it, short of attacking Ethiopia and letting the Islamists win in Somalia. We won't take responsibility for the civilian casualties either. I wonder; when we get the Bush Presidential Library at SMU, how large will the section on Somalia be?