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August 28, 2008

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The fundamental error of the warmongers in this situation is their belief that other people are cowards who will knuckle under if you just kick 'em hard enough. While this is true of most people (who are more prudent than cowardly), kicking people in the teeth always incites a few to respond in kind. My counterquestion to these types of arguments is, "If a foreign invader treated Americans like this, would you expect Americans to respond in the manner you suppose that foreigners will respond to American behavior?

It's not exactly news that people like Mark Steyn and Cliff May are monsters, but damn. There's really not much daylight between what they're saying and just baldly stating that the righteousness of any war correlates directly to the number of innocent civilians killed. I suppose it's some kind of indication of mental health that I'm still nauseated by this stuff even after eight years of it.

It was a huge mistake to allow ethiopiam army to invade somalia.

It is even worse for us to be associated with it.

OT but related to war's brutalizing and lie-producing nature:

Remember the right-wing screechfest last summer when soldier Scott Beauchamp wrote a pseudonymous article for The New Republic in which he related incidents of casual brutality by members of his unit, such as running over dogs with Bradleys and disrespecting Iraqi remains? The Army brass, members of his unit, and eventually TNR hung him out to dry.

Now it turns out that at the very time Beauchamp's company members, including one Sgt. John Hatley, were denouncing his account as fabrication, at least seven of them were aware that Hatley and two others under his command had murdered four bound Iraqi prisoners and dumped their bodies in a canal in southwest Baghdad a few months before.

But hey, they'd never kill any dogs, man.

Jeebus. What a bunch of sick fncks.

hmmm....financial pressures had to be taken into account.....the commitment not open ended......yes,we can learn something from them.

one of Ethiopia's stated policy objectives vis-a-vis its neighbor Somalia is to keep Somalia weakened so as to forestall a Somali bid for the disputed Ogaden territory (geographically a part of Ethiopia, but ethnically Somali).

Huh. Almost screams "oil", doesn't it?

Yes. Yes, it does.

There you go with your conspiracy theories again Nell ;)

Nice Shins reference.

Clarence wins the t-shirt!

Eric, 'tis true that the Islamic Courts provided the appearance of stability for the brief period -- what, 2-3 months? -- that they enjoyed the support of the warlords and key tribes. The rest of the time, of course, they were fighting a bloody civil war and consilating power. Nor is it particularly suprising the TFG (which had the backing of the African Union, the EC, the UN, and the US) was and is unpopular among many an armed groups. The TFG is fractious and, by design, is not built around a warlord. Without guns, a consistuency has been hard to find.

But, again, I'm still at a loss regarding your (and others, particularly MY's) take on this issue. You act as though we couldn't stopped Ethiopia from acting -- or the US boldly acted alone. That's not correct. No US administration would have stopped Ethiopia from acting in Somalia. Ethiopia had directly warned the Islamic Courts not to attack the last refuge of the TFG, which was protected by Ethiopian and AU forces. The Islamic Courts attacked. Ethiopia's reacton, particularly given its history with Somalia, was predictable.

You also write as though we went out on some limb or took some unusual stance. The (very) limited support we provided to Ethiopia and the TFG was matched or exceeded by our European and African allies. Yes, there were a few (very few) actions by US special forces. But they are getting an undue amount of play.

I'm also troubled by the suggestion that the Islamic courts were some sort of wonderful unifying force for the country.
And I'm not just troubled because the IC fought a bloody civil war and started imposing Sharia law. Had the IC consolidated power, it almost certainly would have lead to a wider regional confrontation with Ethiopia: recall that one of the IC's specific proposals was to invade Ethiopia.

Aside from your decision to ignore history of this dispute and all complicating factors, I also question whether an unstable Somalia is really worse than the alternatives from the perspective of the US. A stable Somalia under the IC almost certainly meant a much larger war.

Not everything is black and white -- and it's wrong to try to make it so.

You act as though we couldn't stopped Ethiopia from acting -- or the US boldly acted alone.

No, I do not. I act as though we could have objected to this move.

No US administration would have stopped Ethiopia from acting in Somalia.

Would or could? We give Ethiopia an enormous amount of military and financial aide. More than any other African nation save Egypt. If we had threatened to vastly reduce, or cut off, that aid, Ethiopia would have listened.

You also write as though we went out on some limb or took some unusual stance. The (very) limited support we provided to Ethiopia and the TFG was matched or exceeded by our European and African allies. Yes, there were a few (very few) actions by US special forces. But they are getting an undue amount of play.

Actually, we increased our already substantial levels of aid, conducted numerous air strikes (these airstrikes are ongoing in fact) and provided on the ground support in terms of SF. We have long been Ethiopia's patron in the region. If we don't like being viewed that way, we should stop acting that way.

I'm also troubled by the suggestion that the Islamic courts were some sort of wonderful unifying force for the country.

I'm troubled by you putting words in my mouth.

recall that one of the IC's specific proposals was to invade Ethiopia

Von, as I've told you before on this, that is the proposal of just about every major armed faction in Somalia for the past 30 years. They want Ogaden. They had zero means to act on it.

Aside from your decision to ignore history of this dispute and all complicating factors

Von, look in the mirror. You ignore Ethiopia's long held goal of keeping Somalia destabilized. You ignore the fact that the IC was in no way alone in wanting Ogaden back. You ignore the years of substantial aid given to Ethiopia. You ignore Ethiopia's own horrific record on human rights.

Not everything is black and white -- and it's wrong to try to make it so.

I do not. Backing Ethiopia on this was a mistake though.

A stable Somalia under the IC almost certainly meant a much larger war.

No, there were other means to affect the situation. What a lack of imagination to think that backing Ethiopia's invasion was the only way to achieve a positive outcome. Which it hasn't.

Not everything is black and white -- and it's wrong to try to make it so.

Wrong.

Torture, rape, mass expulsion and summary executions are black.

I also question whether an unstable Somalia is really worse than the alternatives from the perspective of the US

Let's see: Anti-Americanism has spiked dramatically in the region. Counter-terrorism experts from Jamestown to Rand are claiming that al-Qaeda is more popular now, has more range of motion and is closer to establishing a working relationship with Somali groups.

Why is that better?

About Scott Beauchamp, by the way. (Or did Hilzoy already link to this? I'm too spacy to remember or check.)

Gary, that link is in the blog post (mine) linked in my comment, but it's worth featuring on its own. No one's mentioned it in a main post that I know of -- anywhere, except Spencer Ackerman himself at Attackerman.

Except for my including it in a main post at A Tiny Revolution. I don't post very often, so hope a bit of blog whoring will be tolerated.

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