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The Perils of Gunship Diplomacy

America’s foray into Somalia last week is already all but forgotten in Washington — filed away as a successful mission in the war on terror. We went in with helicopter gunships, killed a bad guy — or three — and got out, taking some corpses with us for good measure. [1]

What’s not to like?

For Africans, it’s not so quick and easy. Like Clinton’s black-hawk bungle in 1993, America’s latest Somalia adventure may have only further destabilized an already chaotic country. Far from “crippling al-Qaeda,” as the Pentagon press releases averred, the strike appears to have emboldened the enemy and aggravated anti-western feeling among Somalis — particularly after the sinister body-snatching details emerged. The already feeble moderate government in Mogadishu is now under greater pressure. “They will taste the bitterness,” promised the vengeful al-Shabab leadership last week. The group appears to have since kept its word. [2]

Elsewhere, officials of our regional ally Kenya — clearly not as blinkered by Obama enthusiasm as some like to think — are furious that the U.S. carried out such a dangerous military strike in East Africa without consulting or warning their government. As Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula puts it,

“What I do not feel comfortable with is the fact that the US would want to conduct operations in our neighborhood without information or cooperation or collaboration,” he said.

“That Lone Ranger behavior has often not succeeded in many places.”

He may have a point.

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#1 Comment By Jack Ross On September 23, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

I may be too eager to see silver linings, but is it possible that for once we’ve done an anti-terrorist mission right – going in, killing them, and getting the hell out?

#2 Comment By Barney Rebble On September 23, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

I, for one, see a tremendous difference, in that we have Obama’s word that he is carefully watching out for human rights: