AQfghanistan and Iraq have monopolised the headlines but Somalia is arguably an even greater victim of George W. Bush’s ill-conceived and lamentably executed War on Terror. America’s interventions have proved so catastrophic that its best hope of salvaging something from the wreckage is a president it chased from power three years ago, who controls a few square miles of a country three times the size of Britain.
It has delivered a people that practised a moderate form of Islam into the hands of religious extremists. Its efforts to combat terrorism have turned Somalia into a launchpad for global jihad. Somalia is now the ultimate failed state whose mayhem threatens to destabilise the region and whose pirates maraud the vital shipping lanes off its shores. Its people endure Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis.
During the Cold War, the US pumped arms into Somalia to counter Soviet support for neighbouring Ethiopia. In 1991 clan warlords ousted the dictator Siad Barre and turned that arsenal on each other. In 1992 President Bush Snr sent in the Marines to help its suffering people — a venture that ended in the Black Hawk Down debacle, a humiliating US withdrawal and a dozen more years of anarchy as the feuding warlords ran amok. [continued…]