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The islamist militant group Al-Shabab is running roughshod over Somalia. This is exactly how the Taliban started.
Manas Shaikh, Tariq Nelson, thabet, and 4 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
I hope that outsiders will just leave them alone this time. As long as they do their thing inside Somalia and leave the rest of the world alone then I am fine with that
yes, let’s just let them do their thing.
Let me clarify. I do not approve of them in the least. However, we have to stop trying to police the world and establish our way of life on others. There are plenty of sad atrocities going on all over the world and we can’t impose our will in all of those places.
I think it is time that we leave well enough alone
As we learned in Afghanistan though, if you let extremism fester, it eventually comes back to bite us on our own shores.
I am an unabashed pragmatic liberal interventionist. I think democracy promotion is sound policy, not to “impose our values” but because I believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is truly universal and that the Cairo Declaration falls short. I think this is not “imposing our will” but rather a moral calling to let people express their own will.
Yes that makes me in some ways akin to the raving nutter neocons. But there are nuances that are critical. As the new administration says, it’s “smart power” not soft or hard.
Orwell was right – the history of the world is a boot stamping on a human face, forever. Until we change it.
define “well enough”. The assumption that we can leave them alone, and be left alone in return, strikes me as equivalent to your avatar icon.
I am an unabashed pragmatic liberal interventionist. I think democracy promotion is sound policy, not to “impose our values” but because I believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is truly universal and that the Cairo Declaration falls short.
Given your logic, I take it that you were for the invasion of Iraq? I do not believe that democracy is compatible with every culture on the planet and furthermore many people just do not want it. I don’t think that we should go around the world “in search of beasts to slay”. We just can not force a square peg into a round hole. Let people govern themselves in whatever way they see fit. If Saudis and Jordanians are happy with their Kings, then who are we to say that they need a Prime Minister or President? As long as they don’t try to force us to have a King here, then I am fine.
The assumption that we can leave them alone, and be left alone in return, strikes me as equivalent to your avatar icon.
There are plenty of small evil groups and small, covert action is probably the best course of action. Going into Somalia would only create more enemies.
We just need to live and let live. As long as the Somalis (for example) do not try to invade other nations, then we should stay out of their internal affairs.
I am not sure of what we would do in Somalia other than create another Iraq-like disaster. What we can do is invest in the security of our own nation. The billions that were spent in Iraq would have been better spent in securing airports, buses, trains, etc with the latest technology.
Using the neo-con way of thinking, we will be invading forever. I would be much happier if we leave the Somalis do what they see fit. As long as they leave us alone.
Given your logic, I take it that you were for the invasion of Iraq?
I wasnt, because I didnt trust the Bush Administration to do the necessary legwork to do it right. Had it been a different Administration, say the Gore Admin – or even Bush Sr – then I’d have reservedly supported it. As it was I struggled with the decision and then came out reluctantly against it. I am on record though at present as arguing against overly hasty a withdrawal, and I do believe that Iraq has serious problems but is on a path that will lead – after a long time – to stability.
I would be much happier if we leave the Somalis do what they see fit. As long as they leave us alone.
Aren’t we enjoined to speak out against evil? At any rate – they wont leave us alone. 9-11 proved that (wrt Afghanistan and the Taliban, not Saddam obviously).
Aren’t we enjoined to speak out against evil?
We can speak out against human rights atrocities, but that is a far cry from invading their countries and installing a system of our liking. Why not invade Sudan? Burma? Egypt? Libya? Congo? China? It is just not practical to try to re-shape the world in our image.
At any rate – they wont leave us alone. 9-11 proved that
9/11 was a failure of security here in the US and not a military failure. I don’t think they will leave us alone either – that is why we should keep good intelligence and do covert action. Dropping bombs and invading countries will only create more enemies and recruiting opportunities for the maniacs.
We’ll do better by minding our own business, increasing our security and leading by example.
‘They’ had little involvement in 9/11, which was inspired, planned and executed primarily by Saudis and Egyptians–our allies. Most Talibanis have never seen a building higher than 5 stories, let alone planned an attack on one 7,000 miles away.
I’m not sure I share Tariq’s ambivalence toward the shabab, but I’m with him on scaling back military intervention.
I think AE has slayed this beast.
I’m not sure I share Tariq’s ambivalence toward the shabab
It’s not that I don’t care. It is that we can’t run into Somalia (or any other place) and invade every time we see someone or something we don’t like. We can condemn, and perhaps even establish some limited sanctions of some type, but not much else.
We can speak out against human rights atrocities, but that is a far cry from invading their countries and installing a system of our liking.
Note the false dichotomy here. It’s either ignore them and leave them alone hoping they leave us alone, or outright full-scale invasion? That dichotomy is one I reject (as I reject both those extreme options). I understand that I am in a minority here but for the first time in 16 years, I am optimistic about our foreign policy because it has been explicitly set to break that dichotomy.
As far as Taliban and 9-11, the execution was indeed by fifteen Saudis (and one egyptian, one lebanese, and two more from Dubai I think), but the training and planing was actually entirely due to Taliban sponsorship and haven. Don’t forget that the Lion of Panjshir – Ahmed Shah Massoud – was assassinated two days prior to 9-11 by Al Qaeda operatives. Also recall that the original Maktab al Khidmat (MAK) group founded by OBL started as a resistance cell to soviet occupation in afghanistan. Al Qaeda grew from there, relocating briefly to Sudan before returning to Afghanistan in 1996. It was in Afghanistan that Al-Q remained for the planning of the various embassy bombings in 1998 and the attack on teh USS Cole in 2000. It was also in Afghanistan that the final coterie of men were selected and indoctrinated for the 9-11 attack, before being sent to the US for flyin lesssons and field operation. The key leaders of Al Q, however – Ayman al Zawahiri, bin laden himself, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and Mohammed Atef – all remained in afghanistan.
without Taliban haven for their activities, the 9-11 plot could never have gotten off the ground. Mullah Omar got a great deal out of his alliance with Al Q – extra fighters and training, not to mention assistance in his struggle with teh northern alliance (notably Massoud, whose death paved the way for total Taliban control of the country).
All of the above is from memory so I may be wring in some particulars. However the basic point is that the Taliban’s control over portions of Afghanistan is what gave Al Qaeda the operational room to grow and plot their attacks. The failure to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan is what allowed Al Q to survive and metastasize into Al Q v2.0, with regional Al Q affiliated groups carrying out the Bali, Istanbul, Sharm al Sheikh, and London bombings (though the latter’s exact tie to al q is something i am hazy on the particulars). Somalia is Afghanistan v2.0 and is already a breeding ground for future fighters – some of whom have US origins and may well be motivated to return here for domestic attacks in the future.
leave them alone so they leave us alone? not bloody likely.
oh, quite agreed, American Imperialism = Very Bad ++ungood. And yet, he signed the Euston manifesto (as did I). Maybe he will stop by to explain the seeming contradiction? (I see none, btw).
Let’s also remember that the “Northern Alliance” were not angels themselves. Stories like the ones with the Shabaab were present amongst them as well such as taking little boys as sex slaves. That is how the Taliban got started.
So that we don’t go in circles, what do you suggest short of invasion?
Aziz and Tariq,
Your interchange is bizarre to me because you seem to be talking as if the U.S. has not been involved militarily in Somalia for many years, including backing and participating in the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia which attempted to prop up an ineffective warlord based puppet regime. Such foreign invasions and occupations will always eventually lose and the result is that groups like AlShabab only become stronger and more radicalized.
Here is an article with some background:talk
And I believe I read recently that the Islamic Courts Union, the leadership group that the Ethiopians displaced are now part of the moderate Islamist alternative coalition that the US is hoping will win out over Al Shabab. All that interventionist trouble and now we’re hoping to reinstall the original people we displaced to avoid the new radicals who popped up in their place.
Chris Hedges, who is my favorite journalist/commentator on war in general and especially in the Middle East, had this to say about Gaza but it applies here too:
Radical Islamic groups, such as al-Qaida, far more violent and irrational, stand poised to replace Hamas. And Israel will one day look wistfully at Hamas just as it does now at Fatah.
Unfortunately, there seems to be almost no one in the US government who can properly differentiate between an Islamist government they can live in peace with and one that is going to export violence in the cause of global jihad. Instead, the government is salted with neocon-like analysts ready to fear-monger and bully our leaders into all sorts of unnecessary conflicts.
Yeah, I’ve been trying to follow events but obviously am far from an expert. It does seem like there is some political progress towards getting the moderate elements of the Islamic Courts Union involved in a government. AlShabab’s origins are with the ICU, although it is by now considered a splinter group and it has had some fighting with the ICU..my prayer would be that there can still be some kind of reconciliation where AlShabab can feel that the ICU represents its interests and concerns in the government. The people of Somalia do not need foreign occupation or a gov that serves the interests of foreigners but they definitely need peace. It would have been better if the US and Ethiopia had never intervened militarily.
including backing and participating in the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia which attempted to prop up an ineffective warlord based puppet regime
You are correct and that was misbegotten adventure too. But I am talking about a direct US military invasion such as in Iraq. But I was/am equally against what happened a couple of years ago. This only bolsters my point.
Whatever Somalia wants to do is fine by me…as long as they don’t try to export it. I feel that we should do likewise
Tariq, your points about the “Northern Alliance” are very important. As one can see from the recent Boston Review article by Barnett Rubin, in countries like Afghanistan (and Somalia) where there have been decades or longer of warfare, foreign invasion, chaos and civil war, there are long histories of atrocities of various groups against others. These are especially acute in countries where “tribalism” is still the dominant means of identification — or it may be more accurate to say that such conditions of war and anarchy tear down other larger means of identification and create the conditions where people put clan and tribal interests above everything else out of necessity. One can see similar things in subcommunities here in the U.S. including inner city neighborhoods and high schools among teenagers, prisons and jails, etc.
What is relevant to Tariq’s comments is that is strange and misleading how whichever group seems to serve American interests is then painted by our gov and media as the “good” guys while others as the “bad” guys. The true falsity of such labels can be seen easily when one looks deeper and sees that the same leaders or groups can be “good” one day and “bad” the next and that the “good” and “bad” groups both engage in some of the same bad activities.
It would have been better if the US and Ethiopia had never intervened militarily.
What is relevant to Tariq’s comments is that is strange and misleading how whichever group seems to serve American interests is then painted by our gov and media as the “good” guys while others as the “bad” guys.
See this article for a similar discussion on painting ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ in Kosovo.
I can remember reading stories prior to 9/11 of how one member of the “Northern Alliance” used to run over his opponents with a tank. He would start at the toes. Then this brute becomes a “good guy”.
I read somewhere that in the US prisons, pregnant women are kept in chains. I don’t think I would ask my government to invade the US, even if my country were stronger than the US. I wouldn’t.
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