Lessons From Somalia

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Not
Mogadishu, of course. We learned those lessons — prepare the folks
back home for losses, fund and arm our guys appropriately, talk
the talk about staying the course, train and prepare for urban warfare
operations, befriend the locals if you can.

Even
better, this time we have lots of international and U.S. taxpayer
loan backing, and American companies are locked in high and tight
to get the lion's share of the Iraqi rebuilding, reorganizing and
oil field development contracts.

Now
that we are holding down the palaces in Baghdad, we might want to
consider the other lessons of Somalia. These include Who's Your
Buddy?, Looting 101, and Neo-Dependency Theory.

Said
Barre in Somalia was a guy we supported for a time, like Saddam,
because he was against some other guys we didn't like (after he
switched from the Soviets in the late 70s). We weren't in love with
Said, of course. We knew he was a corrupt cruel Marxist. Heck, we
only supported Iraq against Iran so we could weaken both states
– Kissinger, with prescient wry wisdom, said at the time “too
bad they can’t both lose
.” Sweet!

For
21 years, Said Barre ran Somalia a lot like Saddam ran Iraq. To
promote popular support, Said employed various techniques including
state-run propaganda, withholding federally controlled assets from
non-supporters, establishing pervasive domestic intelligence apparatuses,
and invading other countries. Hey, George! There might be something
here you can use! Oh, wait…

Barre
created several humanitarian crises in Somalia, by design, and when
that wasn't sufficient, he also killed large numbers of people directly.
In fact, in 1988 and 1989, about the time Saddam was gassing Kurds
and Iranians during the long war with Iran, Said's military and
police are reported to have killed as many as 50,000 civilians.

Fast
forward — it's so boring anyway, all those dead civilians. Really,
the big CENTCOM media center in Qatar has the right idea: "All
contacts with Iraqis have been positive. Next?"

Somalia
is today several countries. Somaliland, left alone with little help,
has been stable and productive with a representative democracy for
over a decade, at peace since 1991. No country or international
body, U.S. and U.N. included, recognizes Somaliland. It receives
very little aid or support from any country or international organization.
It does not threaten its neighbors, except through competitive trade
and market practices. The free trade environment in tiny Somaliland
has indeed caused complaint by nearby statist entities of Ethiopia,
Djibouti and to a lesser extent Eritrea. Efforts to gain international
recognition for Somaliland as a country, or even to recognize its
successful transformation as a democracy, languish.

Indeed,
the U.N. supported Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
is actively pushing to force Somaliland back into a dysfunctional
"unified" Somali state. The latest
IGAD report
on March 6th, 2003, describes a key concern
as "how to tackle the problem of the breakaway republic of
Somaliland." Let it alone, perhaps, so the people might thrive
and be free? Naaahhhh.

Then
there is Puntland. It's not as peaceful or free as Somaliland. While
Somaliland wants to maintain independence, Puntland's new President,
with Ethiopian and international backing, desires to return to a
single Somalia, perhaps as its leader.

Then
we have the south — Somalia to the rest of the world. Not much changed
from when we saw it last, the UN and other agencies worldwide are
still trying to help. The clans understand how to use this, as they
always did. As a social structure and sub-state, southern Somalia
remains aid-dependent. As we watch Iraqis all over the new occupied
territories loot like there is no tomorrow, we can't help but remember
similar scenes from southern Somalia.

I'm
sure Jay Garner and the United States Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance will be able to make it right.

Thomas
Jefferson once mused "Were we directed from Washington when
to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread." Well,
never mind that, our man from the Pentagon will deliver.

The
political and economic lessons of Somalia are echoed in Iraq. Decentralized
government, free markets, a free press and lively competition of
people and ideas help a country recover. Aid dependency, centralized
management of everything, and international manipulation don't.

The
Miracle-Gro for tender young countries is culture-driven self-government,
absent outside military interference and manipulation from great
powers and entangling alliances. It's kind of like what the founding
fathers envisioned for this country. A variation of national socialism,
administered by outsiders or their handpicked minions, will stifle
and annoy any country, but especially one that has been promised
"liberation."

Marc
Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, recently
said that he hopes, of the actions taken by the new leadership in
Iraq, that recognizing
Israel
"will be among the first things they do." Grossman's
neo-conservative salivation over the new state of Iraq and its true
purpose in the region is embarrassingly obvious. Down, boy!

But
I'd buy the neocons a big bag of premium doggie treats if, after
recognizing Israel, the new Iraqi government would then recognize
Somaliland, the one true regional role model of a self-made, free-market,
peace-loving democracy.

April
10, 2003

Karen
Kwiatkowski [send her mail]
is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final
four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now
lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.


     

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