Power & Market

Oops, We Did it Again

Or rather, in the case of Somalia, we never stopped – and we just keep doing it!

As the Biden administration orders U.S. troops to back to Somalia in significant numbers, several things are worth noting in opposition to yet another military response to a faraway crisis of small stakes and absolutely no consequence to Americans.

First, U.S. military and intelligence operatives have been operating in Somalia continually for the past 20 years. Along with their allies in Ethiopia and Kenya, a playbook all too familiar to observers of the concurrent Afghanistan debacle was followed. Arming the warlords, asking no questions and paying no mind, led predictably to the Somalia of today. The warlords took the money, arms, and US-bestowed patina of legitimacy and set to fighting with one another and oppressing the population. Meanwhile, successive human rights abusing central governments, including the present one, enjoyed U.S. backing.

At least, until they didn’t.

Between overthrown governments, civil wars, drone attacks, direct U.S. bombardments, invasions, and the birth of Islamic extremism in the country as a product of US actions, Somalia has been unquestionably among the worst places on earth to be from George W. Bush onward – rivaled only by perhaps Afghanistan or the dystopian nightmare of North Korea.

Further, while successive administrations have been responsible for more or fewer civilian deaths and war crimes in the country since 2001, no doubt in accordance with the levels their national security councils had advised the current situation merited, the policies have been nothing but a disaster for the people living there and are yet another blight on the record of an American establishment that has produced nothing but failures and civilian casualties for twenty years.

Another thing to point out: prior to any of that, the U.S. backed the sadistic dictator of Somalia, Siad Barre. In a familiar Cold War move, principles were sacrificed to geostrategy, and the U.S. backed his brutal regime to the end. In another familiar move, it then backed various factions in the civil war it helped provoke and that has basically carried on to this day.

Lastly, just as in Afghanistan, the only thing that prevents the fall of the corrupt and hated government is U.S. backing. Reading between the lines, the situation for America’s proxies must be bleak if actual American blood is being shoved back on the line again. Mind, this is after twenty years of involvement couldn’t conclude the situation to the hawks’ liking.

As stated in opening, the stakes in Somalia are unimaginably small: whether a corrupt, abusive, and non-service providing central government can defeat a collection of homegrown Islamic fighters, which rose up as a response to the misrule of the U.S.’s chosen favorites, and who eventually pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in order to open up funding networks through Saudi Arabia.

But never mind the facts – as one of the New York Times’ resident hawks, Charlie Savage, approvingly observed in response to the Biden administration’s announcement: the decision represented a resumption of the “open-ended” American commitment.

How much has this cost? How much will it cost in the future?

No one knows – and certainly, when it comes to the corporate media, no one even cares to ask.

One thing is certain though: between the decades of war and the famines it helped induce, the cost can’t simply be weighed in dollars. Because for Washington it’s just a matter of turning on the printing press – at least for now.

Anyone interested in reading about the details of the extent of U.S. involvement in Somalia since Ronald Reagan can find it in Scott Horton’s Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terror.

Everyone else should complain loudly as midterms are right around the corner.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
What is the Mises Institute?

The Mises Institute is a non-profit organization that exists to promote teaching and research in the Austrian School of economics, individual freedom, honest history, and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. 

Non-political, non-partisan, and non-PC, we advocate a radical shift in the intellectual climate, away from statism and toward a private property order. We believe that our foundational ideas are of permanent value, and oppose all efforts at compromise, sellout, and amalgamation of these ideas with fashionable political, cultural, and social doctrines inimical to their spirit.

Become a Member
Mises Institute