Gravy Train

[An early version of this article appeared in Z Magazine in February 1993. It was revised in November 1993 and appears as a chapter in the Italian translation of my Imperial Alibis (Boston: South End Press, 1993): Alibi Imperiali (Bologna: Edizioni Synergon, 1995).]

 

GRAVY TRAIN:


Feeding the Pentagon By Feeding Somalia

Stephen R. Shalom

 

Table of Contents

 

Imagine that in a house down the block someone is behaving in a way that you do not approve of. Surely it would not normally be right for you to break down the door, storm in, and try to set things straight. On the other hand, suppose the behavior in question were truly horrendous: for example, a child has been tied up in the basement and deprived of food. Suppose further that you had called the Division of Youth Services and the police, and for some reason they were unwilling or unable to act. In this case, it would certainly be proper for you to put aside any concern for principles like "the sanctity of the home" and to intervene, forcibly if necessary.

Many Americans saw the situation in Somalia in late 1992 as analogous to this hypothetical example. Generally, a country's sovereignty should be respected and one should not intervene in its internal affairs; on rare occasions, however, the situation will be so monstrous that basic humanitarianism will require that the principle of non-intervention be set aside. According to many, the massive starvation going on in Somalia was one of those horrific occasions where intervention was justified, and the dispatch of the U.S. Marines was a welcome and necessary means for saving large numbers of lives.

But consider another hypothetical case. Imagine that there's a house in which a parent regularly abuses a child. Mr. Moneybags, the richest man in town, has often stopped by the house, had a drink or two with the parent, and even provided a pair of brass knuckles. Some neighbors try to get a Youth Services worker or the police to visit the house, but the town's upper class, led by Mr. Moneybags, has made sure that taxes are so low that these agencies are understaffed and unable to act. In the meantime, Mr. Moneybags has a retinue of bodyguards who have been routinely harassing the town's citizens. A few brave voices begin to question whether armed thugs ought to be allowed to roam the streets. At this point, Mr. Moneybags volunteers to send some of his "boys" to the house to prevent child abuse.

In this situation, we might reluctantly indicate our support for Mr. Moneybags's thugs going to the house, believing that it's the only way the battered child is going to survive. But our praise for Mr. Moneybags would surely be muted. He helped create the terrible situation and he blocked all alternative ways of dealing with the situation that didn't at the same time serve his interest by enhancing the reputation of his thugs.

It is this second hypothetical example that I will argue is the real analogy to what has gone on in Somalia. In making this argument, I will replace the simple question, "Should U.S. Marines have been sent to Somalia?" with two separate questions: One, "why did the United States send troops to Somalia?" And, two -- logically distinct from the first -- "Did the Marines help or hurt the Somali people?"

Arming the Horn

 

To appreciate why the United States went into Somalia, it is necessary to look at the history of Washington's relationship with Somalia and with its larger neighbor on the horn of Africa, Ethiopia.

For many decades, the United States supported the monarchy of Haile Selassie in Ethiopia. Selassie gave the United States unhampered use of a military base at Kagnew in return for military aid, which he used against Eritrean secessionists. The Eritreans had been fighting for independence since 1962 when Selassie annexed their territory, unilaterally abrogating a UN- authorized federation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. {1 } In 1974, Selassie was overthrown by military officers who proceeded to carry out social reforms along with brutal repression.

Neighboring Somalia was ruled since 1969 by General Mohammed Siad Barre. Here too some social reforms (improving the status of women, introducing a written language) were combined with a ruthless dictatorship. Draconian decrees imposed the death penalty for such crimes as membership in any organization not created by the government itself. {2 } Somalia had long claimed the Ogaden region of Ethiopia as part of "Greater Somalia" (along with Djibouti and a piece of Kenya) and had fought wars with Ethiopia in 1960 and 1964. The Soviet Union provided arms to Somalia and in return received access to naval and air facilities at the Somali port of Berbera.

In early 1977, an anti-American faction within the Ethiopian military took over and Moscow sharply increased its arms aid to Addis Ababa, judging that Ethiopia was a far bigger prize than Somalia. President Carter cut U.S. aid to Ethiopia, citing human rights abuses, but moved to build ties to Somalia, telling his advisers that he wanted them "to move in every possible way to get Somalia to be our friend." {3 }

In June 1977, Carter relayed a secret message to Barre, reportedly telling him that whatever he did in the Ogaden was his own business, but if he dropped his claims to Kenya and Djibouti, Washington would sympathetically consider his "legitimate" defensive needs. A few days later, Carter told the Somali ambassador that although the United States couldn't at that time provide military aid, Washington would encourage its allies to help Somalia maintain its defensive strength. The next month, Carter approved in principle a decision to cooperate with other countries in arming Somalia, and on July 25 the Somali ambassador was notified that the United States would provide weapons. {4 }

Not surprisingly, Barre took this as a green light to proceed with his invasion of the Ogaden.

When the Somalia invasion became evident to the outside world in August, the Carter administration decided that it would not provide arms to Mogadishu as long as Somali troops were in Ethiopia. Washington declared an arms embargo on both sides, but still maneuvered for advantage on the Horn. On the one hand, U.S. officials, like Moscow, still considered Ethiopia the more valuable catch. So while they denounced the Kremlin for arming Ethiopia, they were silent about Israeli arms support for Addis Ababa and indeed about U.S. deliveries of 23 trucks and $400,000 worth of nonlethal military spare parts to Ethiopia. On the other hand, Washington refused to publicly condemn the Somali invasion of the Ogaden and winked when Saudi Arabia, Iran (under the Shah), Egypt, and Pakistan transferred weapons of non-U.S. origin to Somalia. {5 }

With Moscow increasing its arms shipments to Ethiopia, and at Saudi urging, Somalia renounced its friendship treaty with the Soviet Union in November 1977. Cuban troops and Soviet advisers were airlifted into Ethiopia and soon the Somalis were in retreat. In January 1978, the USSR proposed a joint U.S.-Soviet mediation effort; Washington rejected this because, in the words of National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, it would "legitimize the Soviet presence in the Horn." Brzezinski commented that this was "the classic Soviet solution to regional disputes," which, as a former State Department official has noted, was surely "an unintended compliment." {6 }

Both Moscow and Addis Ababa gave assurances that they were only interested in repulsing the Somali invasion, with no intention of crossing the border. In March 1978, Barre withdrew his forces into Somalia and the war came to an end. The consequences of the war, however, were tragic for Somalia, as hundreds of thousands of ethnic Somali refugees poured into the country from the Ogaden, placing an enormous strain on Somalia's already impoverished economy.

U.S. officials tried again to work out an arms deal with Barre, but his refusal to abandon his continuing designs on the Ogaden and the fact that some units of his Army were again across the border stalled any agreement. {7 } However, Carter did instruct Brzezinski to ask the Chinese to provide aid to Somalia, {8 } which they did. And funding from Saudi Arabia allowed Somalia to import large amounts of weaponry over the next few years, especially from Italy, the former colonial ruler of the southern part of Somalia. {9 }

For the next year and a half, the United States continued to insist that it would only provide weapons to Somalia if Mogadishu would renounce its claims to the Ogaden and stop aiding guerrillas on the Ethiopian side of the border. But the fall of the Shah of Iran, one of Washington's pillars in the Gulf, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan pushed Washington to sign an arms-for-bases agreement with Somalia in August 1980. In return for U.S. military aid, the United States was given access to the former Soviet naval and air bases at Berbera. These bases, together with similar facilities in Oman, Kenya, Egypt, and Sudan, would make possible U.S. power projection in the Middle East by Carter's Rapid Deployment Force.

Though Barre had to guarantee that neither the Somali army nor U.S. weapons would be used in the Ogaden, the new agreement left open the loophole that Somalia could send non-U.S. arms into the Ogaden. But when the Carter administration brought the agreement to Congress, an even larger loophole was revealed: the CIA acknowledged in closed testimony that three battalions of the Somali army were at that very time operating in the Ogaden. The Congress reacted to this news by prohibiting the release of any U.S. military aid to Somalia until the administration could assure that no regular Somali army forces remained over the border. This Carter could not do until the end of the year, just before he left office. {10 }

The Reagan administration at first went slow on military aid to Somalia, still hoping to be able to win over the more valuable Ethiopia. {11 } But when Ethiopian troops and Somali dissidents made a border incursion in mid-1982, the United States rushed plane-loads of military equipment to Mogadishu. Between fiscal 1980 and 1989, the United States provided Somalia with military aid worth $390 million (grant aid, credit sales, military training, and security related "Economic Support Funds") plus more than $200 million in cash sales, for a total of $600 million. In an impoverished country of about 6 million people, this comes to about $100 per person in military aid and sales for the decade. In sub-Saharan Africa, Somalia was the fourth highest recipient of U.S. military assistance funds for the years 1980-1985 and was first in 1986. Other U.S. allies, particularly Italy, provided Somalia with even larger supplies of weapons, and Saudi Arabia was a leading source of funds. {12 }

Beginning in 1980, U.S. military personnel were sent to Somalia as part of an annual regional military exercise, "Operation Bright Star." In 1983, there were 40 U.S. military advisers in the country, and from 1980 to 1989 some 350 Somali military officers received U.S. military training. {13 }

In good times in Somalia, more than a fifth of the country's children died before they reached age five, 12 percent of the population was literate (the lowest rate in the world), and per capita income was under $300 a year. In the face of these abysmal conditions, Barre was spending about a fifth of his country's total government expenditures on the military. {14 } And supporting him in this criminal undertaking was the United States.

 

Siad's Swan Song

 

In 1988, Somalia and Ethiopia signed a pact whereby each agreed to stop aiding the other's dissidents. Ethiopia then expelled from its territory a group called the Somali National Movement (SNM) which had been fighting against the Barre regime since 1981. Losing their Ethiopian base, SNM guerrillas began an offensive in Somalia. {15 } Barre responded with incredible brutality. Barre's standard method of ruling had been to manipulate divisions between the various clans, the six major kinship groupings to which most Somalis belong. Since the Isaak clan was dominant in the SNM, Barre went after the whole Isaak population, leading international human rights organizations to use the word "genocide." Barre's forces poisoned wells, machine gunned herds of domestic animals, and used South African and ex- Rhodesian air force pilots to carpet-bomb urban areas. Three quarters of the buildings in Hargeisa, the nation's second largest city, were damaged. {16 } A U.S. State Department commissioned study conservatively estimated that 5,000 unarmed Isaak civilians were murdered by Somali armed forces between May 1988 and March 1989 "in the absence of resistance and in contexts which presented no immediate danger to these forces." The human rights group Africa Watch put the toll at 50,000-60,000 civilians. {17 }

At a critical stage in the fighting, in late June 1988, the United States delivered $1.4 million worth of rifles and grenade launchers to Barre's armed forces. "What is the sense of having this [military aid] program if we're not going to give them the military support when it counts most?" asked a Defense Department official. And in what U.S. officials called a routine action, an American military team repaired the Somali army's communication site at Hargeisa which had been damaged in the fighting. {18 }

The House Subcommittee on Africa, noting that the SNM uprising was the result of "years of political repression," threatened to cut off all aid to Somalia. The State Department responded by placing a hold on any further "lethal" aid to Barre, in order to save the rest of the military aid program. {19 }

The SNM offensive failed, but civil war spread throughout the country. In July 1989, Barre's armed forces fired on demonstrators coming out of mosques in Mogadishu, killing several hundred people. The Bush administration then asked for $20 million in Economic Support Fund security assistance for Somalia, but Congress blocked it. {20 } Still not giving up, in February 1990, Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, head of the U.S. General Command, went before the Senate Committee on Appropriations to request continuing military aid to Somalia. {21 } But Congress had had enough. Now, only China, Libya, and South Africa were willing to supply Barre with arms. {22 }

In Somalia, clan elders appealed to Barre to resign. He responded: "When I came to Mogadishu, there was one road built by the Italians. If you try to force me to stand down, I will leave the city as I found it. I came to power with a gun; only the gun can make me go." {23 } The finale was extremely bloody. Barre's troops fired artillery indiscriminately throughout the capital and went on a rampage of looting. In the last four weeks before his final ouster in January 1991, some 20,000 people were killed. {24 }

For its part, Washington couldn't be bothered by what was going on. Barre was a U.S. ally, but so too were the various guerrilla leaders who were fighting against him. It was, as one U.S. official put it, "a kind of 'win-win' situation" for the United States. {25 } Critics in Congress denounced the U.S. "indifference to a disaster that we played a role in creating," {26 } but all Washington did was evacuate its embassy personnel and wash its hands of the whole situation.

Washington's indifference to Somalia's fate was very much a function of the Pentagon's realization that the base at Berbera was strategically superfluous. Somalia's disintegration was taking place at exactly the same time as the buildup to the Gulf war, but since the United States was able to obtain extensive bases directly in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region, Berbera had become redundant. The base was abandoned in December 1990, after the storage tanks were emptied of fuel. {27 } In addition, all U.S. development assistance was cut off because Somalia had gone into debt arrears. {28 } The United Nations, too, pulled all of its agencies out of the country.

When Somalia's central government collapsed, authority fell into the hands of a dozen guerrilla groups, each based on a particular clan or sub-clan. In the north, the SNM, which made some effort to include non-Isaaks, seceded from the rest of the country, declaring itself the Republic of Somaliland. The international community ignored the secession. Warlords -- leaders of clan militias -- engaged in some fighting, but clan elders and civic organizations were able to restore peace. {29 } In the rest of the country, however, disorder prevailed. Mogadishu descended into complete chaos. With weapons plentiful and no other means of livelihood, looting became the order of the day. {30 } Much of what was left of the capital's infrastructure -- for example, electric wire -- was looted by gunmen hired by local merchants.

In Washington, the Bush administration couldn't care less about sub-Saharan Africa. Congressional pressure got the administration to raise its 1991 aid commitment to the region to $800 million, still only one third of what Egypt alone received. Out of the Bush administration's fiscal 1990 budget for "promoting democracy," sub-Saharan Africa received three-tenths of one percent of the total, or half a million dollars. {31 }

 

The Descent into Hell

 

In November 1991, two warlords battled for control of Mogadishu. General Mohammed Farah Aidid and Mohammed Ali Mahdi were members of two different sub-clans of the Hawiye clan, each claiming to be the rightful ruler of Somalia. No points of principle divided these men; each just wanted to control the state, which Barre had shown could be very lucrative indeed. {32 }

In December 1991, the United States rejected proposals to put Somalia on the Security Council agenda. {33 } On January 1, 1992, Boutros Boutros-Ghali took office as UN Secretary General, promising to make Somalia a top priority. {34 } When the Council discussed the issue on Jan. 23 1992, the U.S. delegation weakened the language of a resolution presented by Cape Verde. {35 } In February, the warlords agreed to a vague UN-sponsored cease- fire, {36 } which left Aidid in control of most of the city except for a small section in the north held by his rival. Some 20,000 people, mostly women and children, had died in the fighting. {37 }

Equally seriously, ravaging, fighting, and plundering in the countryside drove many farmers, particularly of the relatively under-armed Rahanwayn clan, {38 } from their lands, generating the conditions for famine. International relief organizations warned of impending catastrophe. {39 }

In March 1992, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to send experts to Somalia to study whether UN military observers should be sent to the country to enforce the cease-fire and protect relief supplies. "But at United States insistence," the New York Times's UN correspondent Paul Lewis reported, "the Council's resolution was phrased in obscure terms that made only indirect reference to the likelihood of actually sending peacekeeping forces to Somalia because of fears that Congress would react adversely to another expensive peacekeeping operation in an election year." African delegates accused the United States of adopting a double standard concerning Africa. {40 }

The experts returned from Somalia and recommended that a 500- member peacekeeping force be sent. Washington demanded that the force be paid for by voluntary contributions rather than by the standard assessment used for such operations. Dickering over money, the Council dispatched only a force of 50 unarmed observers to Somalia. {41 }

The State Department insisted that it would be inappropriate to send a peacekeeping force to Somalia until the contending parties agreed to the deployment. {42 } Then, in early August, a U.S. official stated that UN forces should be sent with or without the agreement of the warlords. {43 } Ali Mahdi, whose "interim government of Somalia" was acknowledged in the UN-mediated February cease-fire agreement though he controlled very little territory, favored UN troops, believing they would help legitimize his position. Fearing just that, Aidid opposed a UN presence. {44 } Then on August 12, the UN special representative in Somalia, Mohammed Sahnoun, got Aidid to agree to the troops. {45 } Five hundred Pakistani troops were ready to go, but inexplicably, they didn't arrive in Somalia for two months. In the meantime, the Security Council authorized another 3,000 peacekeepers, but without consulting anyone in Somalia or even informing Sahnoun. Aidid saw this as a plot, and threatened to send the UN troops home in body-bags. Sahnoun then not only had to try to convince Aidid to accept the 3,000, but also to allow the 500 Pakistanis once they landed to actually be deployed. {46 }

Sahnoun had arrived in Somalia in April and quickly established a reputation as an effective and impartial negotiator. He was frustrated by what he saw as the lack of support from the UN in New York, and by its insistence that Aidid had the authority to block the deployment of the Pakistanis. Sahnoun was a great believer in talking things out, but once he had achieved a broad consensus among Somali parties (not just warlords) in favor of the deployment, he thought it wrong to allow Aidid a veto. {47 } A Red Cross official noted that by remaining in their barracks, the 500 troops had lost the psychological impact of their presence. {48 } Sahnoun was also outspoken in his criticisms of the United Nation's earlier neglect of Somalia and at the end of October he was forced to resign, thus squandering his great skill and the relationships he had established with many Somalis. {49 }

 

Poor Man's War

 

Earlier, in July, Secretary General Boutros-Ghali had chided Security Council members for being more concerned with the "rich man's war" in the former Yugoslavia than with the situation in Somalia. The Council responded with a resolution calling for a relief airlift to Somalia. {50 } U.S. disaster experts visited Mogadishu and came back skeptical that emergency airlifts would help; hasty airlifts would only increase fighting while not getting food to the needy. There was a temptation, they warned, to mount airlifts as a way of appearing to do something even though they might not achieve much. {51 }

Two days before the opening of the Republican National Convention in August, the White House abruptly announced that it would undertake a military airlift of food to Somalia. It soon turned out that the U.S. plan had been hastily put together and that various problems had yet to be ironed out. The New York Times's Jane Perlez reported from Nairobi that "at least two American officials...said they believed that the [U.S.] haste was partly attributed [sic] to a desire by the White House to initiate a dramatic relief effort on the eve" of the Republican convention. "It was a good week to do something," said one U.S. official.

Prior to the White House announcement, Perlez noted, "the civil war and the ensuing famine were described by American officials here as secondary issues in Washington." {52 } But, in fact, the famine remained a secondary issue in Washington: Bush's advisers were fearful of charges that the President was fixated on foreign policy and urged him to take a lower profile until after the election. {53 } So top State Department officials were moved over to the Bush re-election campaign, while the world was put on hold.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, one of the few organizations that had stayed in Somalia after January 1991 and which was responsible for feeding more Somalis throughout the crisis than any other relief group, explained to Washington that it was against their policy to deliver food on planes carrying armed personnel or failing to display the Red Cross emblem. {54 } Six days later, it was reported that the United States had agreed to the Red Cross terms and the airlifts began. {55 }

In September, the U.S. government announced a plan for dealing with the Somali famine. {56 } The plan called for "monetizing" food: selling half of the food aid at low prices to Somali traders. This would re-establish the normal commercial market for food and distribution channels, give farmers a reason to go back and plant crops, and reduce the incentive for merchants to hoard and looters to loot. The other half of the U.S. food aid would continue to go to the destitute. Unfortunately, CARE was given the task of selling the food, and it failed miserably in doing so. {57 } Food remained the object of fighting and theft.

There were various reports in the press, repeated by U.S. officials, that 80% of all food aid was being looted. {58 } Inexperienced and impatient relief agencies may have had extremely high losses, but the Red Cross, the leading provider of food to Somalia, was having losses far lower than these alarming figures. The Red Cross worked methodically with clan leaders to get food distributed, while some other agencies tried heavy- handed or hasty approaches. Some of the newer relief organizations found that the guards they hired to protect their food shipments were themselves looting; the Red Cross, on the other hand, had built up relationships of trust with its guards over many months. The two main ports of Mogadishu and Kismayu were wracked by clan-based and merchant-financed looting and frequently closed, so the Red Cross brought in most of its food through the many other smaller ports on Somalia's 1,880-mile coast, the second longest in Africa. {59 }

The effects of the famine were most devastating in July, August, and September. No one knows the number who died, and any claims that a particular percent of the population or a particular percent of children under five died are especially unreliable given that estimates for the total number of Somalis vary from four and a half to six and a half million or more. {60 } According to the Red Cross, "several hundred thousand" Somalis died of hunger in 1992. {61 } But by November, the worst of the famine was over. In Baidoa, for example, the epicenter of the famine, deaths rates had dropped from 300 a day in September to under a hundred a day in November and early December (in part because many of the young, the old, and the sick had already died). {62 } And it was at the end of November, that George Bush announced his offer to the United Nations to send U.S. troops to Somalia.

 

The Selling of the Pentagon

 

Here was a case, New York Times diplomat correspondent Thomas L. Friedman explained, where the United States had "no strategic interests at stake." {63 } The U.S. National Security Council was reported to have concluded that no U.S. strategic interests were involved or at risk. {64 }

On one level, this is certainly true. Given the abundance of U.S. bases in the Middle East, Somalia no longer served any global or regional strategic interest of the Pentagon. {65 } The worry expressed in some of the African press that, for example, the United States decided to intervene in Somalia as a way to counter-balance Iran's announced purchase of submarines, {66 } disregards the vast base structure Washington now had access to in the Gulf.

Likewise, the claim that U.S. intervention was driven by potential oil or uranium resources is not very compelling. No doubt Somalia has valuable untapped oil and mineral deposits. But this was true two years earlier as well, when the United States pulled out of Somalia, and it is true for much of the African continent, where U.S. investors have been extremely hesitant about committing their capital. Stability in Somalia would help U.S. corporations, as would stability most everywhere, but reasonable projections of the profits from Somalian investment hardly seem like a large enough stake to be driving U.S. policy. {67 }

The absence of a strategic interest or a substantial economic stake, however, does not mean that the U.S. intervention was selflessly motivated.

The end of the Cold War has generated tremendous domestic pressures on the Pentagon budget. Cutting the gargantuan military establishment could provide a ready source of funds to meet the needs of the country's long-neglected education and health care system, its economy, and its infrastructure. But deep cuts in the military budget are anathema to the Pentagon and its contractors. "Much of this new readiness to enforce law or establish order," conservative New York Times columnist William Safire has noted, "may be to justify the continuance of big budgets." {68 }

Those who control the key institutions of the U.S. economy also have a powerful interest in maintaining a military able to engage in unilateral intervention. U.S. global hegemony is no longer a function of its economic preeminence: East Asia and Western Europe have seen to that. Today, U.S. hegemony depends upon its superpower military status, and with that status the ability to intervene anywhere in the Third World. "No other nation on earth has the power we possess," General Colin Powell has written. "We must lead. We cannot lead without our armed forces." {69 }

To face down the budget cutters, the Pentagon must sell itself. And one of the best sells is humanitarian action. The Defense Department prominently advertises its disaster relief operations in Guam, Bangladesh, and hurricane-wracked southern Florida. {70 } "Only the United States," Bush told the American people, "has the global reach to place a large security force on the ground in such a distant place quickly and efficiently and thus save thousands of innocents from death." {71 }

But, of course, there is a far more efficient way to provide disaster relief: train and equip a force of disaster relief workers, complete with planes and whatever else they might need. But if no resources are allocated to the creation of a truly humanitarian force, then the task will have to fall to the military. We surely don't need to spend $275 billion annually for a disaster relief force, but that is what we have been doing, with the fringe benefit that this $275 billion force can also invade any Third World nation that does not recognize our leadership role.

In his holiday greetings to U.S. troops in Somalia, George Bush told them they had "proved the wisdom of America's policy of peace through strength." {72 } But they had proven nothing of the sort. The U.S. Somalia force represented one percent of U.S. troop strength and was projected to cost far less than one percent of the military budget. {73 } Whatever merit may be claimed for the Somalia operation, it proves nothing about the need for the huge U.S. military establishment. But the Pentagon hopes that, with appropriate hoopla, the America people will come to think of the Somalia mission as the standard function of the military and the standard rationale for interventionism. Short memories may help. Already the New York Times's Thomas Friedman tells us that the first intervention during the Bush administration was "to rescue Kuwait," somehow forgetting about the invasion of Panama. {74 }

Some commentators have surmised that Somalia represented Bush's attempt to do a "good deed" before he left office. It certainly would have been a first. The New York Times reported that Bush's friends and advisers say it is no coincidence that the President "is leaving office with a show of American might in a noble cause." {75 } There are many noble causes, but terribly few that involve "American might" and bolster its image so effectively.

Does the U.S. government care about dying Somalis? The historical record leaves much reason to be skeptical of noble pronouncements. Mass murder has frequently been ignored or even promoted when it served U.S. interests -- as in Indonesia in 1965, or Bangladesh in 1971, or Chile in 1973, or East Timor from 1975, or El Salvador and Mozambique in the 1980s. {76 } And George Bush himself showed remarkable indifference to human suffering when he embraced Saddam Hussein before the invasion of Kuwait, and aided other butchers in Central America or Southern Africa.

Of course in the Somali case there were many voices in Congress, in the African-American community, in the international aid organizations, and even on the Left who pushed for U.S. action, all urging that Washington do more to help the people of Somalia, some specifically calling for U.S. military intervention. All of these voices, however, had been consistently ignored by the U.S. government for years. What made the Somalia pleas resonate, after many months, where other humanitarian appeals were resoundingly dismissed, was that in this case there were no important U.S. interests opposing U.S. intervention, and one important interest -- legitimizing the U.S. military -- that would be served by the intervention.

Some will argue that now that U.S. troops are finally engaged in a humanitarian mission it is narrow-minded to impugn the motives of the U.S. government; after all, even the most altruistic act can be reduced to selfishness on some level. But beyond the sordid record of U.S. indifference to human suffering, there are at least two other compelling indications that the United States went into Somalia not for the primary purpose of helping the starving, but in order to promote the Pentagon and smooth the way for future U.S. interventionism: (1) Washington designed the operation in such a way that the U.S. military, and not the United Nations, would run the show; and (2) public relations opportunities for the U.S. military have taken precedence over feeding the hungry.

 

Into Somalia

 

The U.S. offer to the United Nations to provide troops for Somalia was conditioned on Washington's retaining command over its troops {77 } (a demand, incidentally, to which no member of Congress objected). {78 } As Newsweek explained: "Washington was not about to cede command of the operation to anyone else. But in order to get a unanimous vote on the 15- member Security Council, the Americans accepted the appearance of UN control. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali was given a vague oversight role, but Americans will decide how to carry out their mission, and when to end it. They won't even wear the United Nation's blue headgear." {79 } In short, as the Times's Paul Lewis put it, the United States "made a number of largely symbolic concessions to those in developing and industrial nations who complain that the Security Council lost all influence over the gulf war once it had authorized it." {80 }

Not only did the United States insist on command over its own forces, it had to have control over all the international troops participating in the operation. {81 } So, U.S. officers told the French when they could or couldn't confiscate weapons, and the Italians where they could or couldn't deploy. {82 }

Of course, the UN Security Council did accept Washington's demands, but it really had little choice. Ideally, the UN should have a standing force that it could deploy when necessary without having to get the approval of any country. (This would entail eliminating the veto power as well.) But such a standing UN force might mean that international troops could be sent to enforce rulings of the International Court of Justice, such as that barring U.S.-sponsored attacks on Nicaragua. It might mean that UN troops could do such things as protect Panama or Grenada from U.S. invasion. Obviously, Washington has no interest in this sort of equal justice, and has resisted any effort to establish a standing force for the UN -- as have other major powers. Far better from the point of view of the United States to maintain its own military forces, to be used in the name of the UN when convenient and unilaterally when necessary. {83 }

With no armed forces of its own, the UN could still put together a multinational force to deal with international crisis. But this costs money, and the dominant powers have made sure that the UN does not have the financial independence to carry out such actions. The member state with the largest arrears, in both regular budget and peacekeeping assessments, is the United States. In terms of peacekeeping, Washington owed $290 million in December 1992. {84 } For the UN, the dilemma is plain. To quote Boutros-Ghali, the organization needs U.S. participation, but when the United States participates, "it insists on running the whole show and uses the UN simply as a fig leaf, as in Iraq and Somalia." {85 } On December 8, U.S. Navy Seals and Marines charged up the beach at Mogadishu. Never before had such an intrepid force faced the fierce glare of TV cameras! The Pentagon disingenuously balled out the media for getting in the way, but Defense Department publicists had alerted the reporters and camera crews in advance of the landing. {86 }

Particularly prominent on the beach were the Marines. As Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek: "With the end of the cold war and a new, less pro-military administration, it's Budget D-Day in the Pentagon. In an era of advanced army helicopters, the amphibious mission of the Marines is in jeopardy, and they had no chance to show their stuff in Desert Storm. That means gearing up the PR machine to add the meals of Mogadishu to the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." {87 }

But this was no harmless publicity seeking. Some relief officials had opposed the U.S. intervention and some had favored it, but all seemed to agree that once the U.S. forces were coming it was important to get to all the sites quickly, for there might be an orgy of looting and killing in the days before the troops arrived, and famine workers would be particularly vulnerable. {88 } Yet this consideration was ignored in the interest of military image-building. Army and air force planners have noted that other Somali cities could have been occupied much more quickly by army airborne troops than by the beach-storming Marines. "We're letting service politics play this out," a disgruntled Pentagon official told Newsweek. "There is no other way you can explain this excruciatingly slow operation. Because the Marines didn't get to exercise an amphibious landing in the Persian Gulf, we let them do it in Somalia. If you're the Marines, and you want to sell everyone on this wonderful amphibious capability, you can't have the army upstage you with an airborne division." {89 }

The fears of the relief workers were justified. The Los Angeles Times reported that Baidoa "has been trapped in a frenzy of shooting and looting in the three weeks since the United States first offered to send 28,000 troops to Somalia." {90 } The U.S. arrival in Mogadishu intensified Baidoa's problems, as Marines pushed gunmen and armored cars out of the capital and toward Baidoa, where their killing and looting interfered with relief operations. {91 }

Robert B. Oakley, President Bush's special envoy to Somalia, did not seem bothered that the armored vehicles had fled Mogadishu instead of being confined to compounds in the city as the warlords had promised. "I don't have any idea where they've gone." {92 } The Commander of U.S. military forces declared that if aid workers in Baidoa felt excessively threatened they should leave their posts; {93 } many were forced to do so, {94 } with consequences for the population that can be predicted.

While U.S. troops took their sweet time getting to the famine sites, they did not miss the opportunity for self-promotion. In Mogadishu, the Associated Press reported, "Marine armored vehicles, accompanied by scores of press cars, delivered the first food of the mercy mission, passing through joyous crowds to cross Mogadishu's war-devastated 'Green Line.'" But the food was being taken to an area where there was no danger of starvation, and the amount delivered -- only a fraction of what relief agencies normally provided -- was "less than symbolic," in the words of a CARE official. {95 } When the Marines finally got to Baidoa, more than a week after their arrival in the country, they again delivered food to great fanfare. "The amount of food delivered was meager compared to the quantities that relief agencies have managed to distribute even before the arrival of the Marines, although there were plenty of television cameras to record the delivery," reported the New York Times's correspondent. {96 } The Marines visited an orphanage where children sang to them; the Marines responded with "The Marine Hymn." {97 }

 

Have Somalis Been Helped By the Intervention?

 

Were the U.S. troops, then, finally needed?

President Bill Clinton claimed that Operation Restore Hope saved close to one million lives (though in the same speech he asserted that only two thirds of a million had been at risk of dying). {98 } In fact, however, death rates had been falling dramatically before the U.S. troops arrived, and the most likely excess death estimates for December -- according to the well-informed Alex de Waal and Rakiya Omaar of Africa Rights -- were in the range of 10-15,000. {99 }

In a variety of ways, Operation Restore Hope actually cost lives in the short run. First, it disrupted carefully negotiated agreements that provided local stability. For example, in the two months before the U.S. intervention, Baidoa had been relatively peaceful as a result of understandings worked out between rival clans. But, as noted above, on the eve of the Marine landing these agreements collapsed and gave way to rampaging militias, causing thousands to flee, including relief agencies. {100 } There was eleventh-hour violence elsewhere as well. In the port city of Kismayu, more than a hundred prominent members of the Harti sub-clan were assassinated as U.S forces arrived in Mogadishu. And hundreds more died in clan battles and looting raids. In general, U.S. officials reported that violence increased in regions where there was no foreign military presence. And in many areas where food was delivered, as soon as the troops left rioting or looting took place. {101 }

Second, Restore Hope drew people to refugee camps where food was distributed but where disease was readily contracted. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in Bardera, for example, the mortality rate doubled in the first month of Restore Hope and quadrupled for children under five. {102 } Many of those who died were people who came to the camp already weak and near death, but the crowded conditions helped spread disease.

The main argument on behalf of the U.S. intervention was that conditions were too dangerous for the agencies providing food. But in fact, in the first three months of Operation Restore Hope three foreign relief workers were killed compared to two in the previous two years. {103 } The Red Cross, which had been skeptical of the troop deployment, announced on December 19 that it did not plan to use U.S. armed escorts for any of its food distribution. Its operation was so huge, an official said, that military protection was not feasible; instead, it was necessary to deal with the clan-based factions. {104 } In July 1993, the UN refused to provide military escorts into areas where its peacekeepers had been killed, so CARE worked with Somali elders to assure that unescorted deliveries could be made. {105 }

Before the arrival of the troops, relief agencies hired gunmen to protect their shipments; now the gunmen were disarmed, leaving the agencies more vulnerable than before. Both the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders reported more cars looted or shot up than before foreign forces landed. {106 } Where before relief workers were valued by gunmen as a source of protection money, they were now prime targets for armed robbery. {107 }

As U.S. troops arrived in the famine zone, they found that the worst of the starvation was over. According to the New York Times, "it has become clear that because so many of the hungry died before the foreign forces arrived, emergency food is perhaps a less critical issue than was originally outlined. Just as important now, say Western diplomats, aid workers and Somalis, is the need for political reconciliation, to allow Somalia some semblance of normality." {108 } The crucial question, then, is whether political reconciliation has been facilitated or hindered by the massive U.S. military presence.

In Somaliland, in the north, civil society was reconstructed by Somalis. Perhaps the violence in the south is so deeply-rooted, that Somalis alone can't restore order. But there are great pitfalls in outsiders getting involved in Somalia's clan politics. Even the incident that was said to have convinced George Bush that U.S. troops were necessary -- the firing on a food ship chartered by the UN off Mogadishu, forcing it to return to sea -- revealed some of the dangers of foreign intervention. A representative of Ali Mahdi acknowledged to the BBC that his forces had fired on the vessel in order to put pressure on the UN to deploy troops (recall that Aidid opposed an increased UN presence, while Ali Mahdi favored it). {109 }

U.S. troops brought with them much ignorance of Somali society (despite the fact that some of them had served as advisers to Barre's military in 1988). {110 } Some blunders have been amusing, such as the U.S. leaflets that rendered the Somali words for United Nations as "Slave Nation." {111 } But much more serious has been the attitude toward the warlords. On the one hand, the United States and the United Nations have lavished too much attention on them, as when U.S. envoy Robert Oakley arranged a high profile meeting with the two Mogadishu warlords in December 1992, giving them a legitimacy they do not deserve. On the other hand, Washington has demonized Aidid, placing a reward on his head, and killing hundreds of civilians in its fruitless effort to capture him. Before the U.S. intervention there were signs that Aidid was waning in power within his sub-clan. {112 } Now, however, in the words of a New York Times report, "by painting himself as the aggrieved party in a war with UN colonialists, Aidid has increased his stature in his own clan." Among his supporters, "Aidid has taken on almost mythical proportions." {113 }

The tragedy of this, of course, is that Aidid is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths by famine and civil war and now he is a hero. Not that the other warlords whom the United States and UN favored {114 } while going after Aidid were any better: Ali Mahdi and other warlords share with Aidid responsibility for the famine deaths, and Ali Mahdi is now being backed by the particularly brutal Gen. Said Hersi Morgan (Barre's son-in-law, guilty of major war crimes in 1988 against the Isaak). {115 } In late October, 1993, Ali Mahdi organized a demonstration in Aidid- controlled territory in southern Mogadishu which UN officials speculated was intended to provoke conflict in hopes that the UN would again intervene against Aidid. The resulting clash broke the 19-month old truce between the two Mogadishu warlords. {116 }

The Clinton administration later tried to blame the UN for being obsessed with capturing the warlord. In fact, however, the UN resolution authorizing the anti-Aidid campaign was drafted and promoted by Washington, and many of the raids were carried out by U.S. forces operating outside the UN chain-of-command, which, in any case, was U.S. dominated. {117 }

The costs of trying to get Aidid have been enormous. Despite UN cover-ups, {118 } hundreds of Somali civilians have been killed. Among the other victims of U.S. and UN attacks were a French relief agency (one Somali worker killed and seven others wounded), and the UN Development Program (4 foreign aid workers and 4 Somalis roughed up, arrested, and released), and the pro-UN former police chief of Mogadishu (wounded, arrested, and released). {119 } Another impact of the hunt for Aidid, was that "there's an anger directed against all foreigners now," in the words of Michael McDonaugh, director of Irish Concern, a relief agency. "More than ever before, we're all targets. How can we work?" {120 }

Twenty-six relief organizations in Somalia sent a letter to Boutros-Ghali, charging that the UN offensives left a moral and legal cloud over the peacekeeping operation. The UN, they said, "must be held scrupulously to higher standards of conduct," singling out for special criticism the U.S. air-strikes in June and July against Aidid. The official newspaper of Italy's Catholic bishops called the July attack "a vile American raid," the Vatican charged that the operation's humanitarian mission had been "abandoned or momentarily forgotten," and both Italy's defense minister and the president of Eritrea condemned the "Rambo" behavior of the United States/UN forces. {121 }

In Washington, T. Frank Crigler, the former U.S. ambassador to Somalia, told a House Subcommittee that "we are turning triumph into tragedy, applying brute military force to a situation that calls for quiet diplomacy, patient mediation, steadiness and understanding." {122 } But these traits -- quiet diplomacy, patient mediation, steadiness and understanding -- are precisely what the United States has in short supply. As soon as the brute force approach ran into substantial American casualties, Clinton announced that U.S. troops would be out in six months. In the meantime, the United States and the UN would not interfere with clan fighting. The obvious strategy for Aidid, a U.S. official noted and Clinton acknowledged, would be to lie low until March 31 and then bring out the guns and declare war. {123 } In March 1993, Robert Oakley had boasted that the problem of clan warfare, which had taken so many lives, was "virtually gone." {124 } But, in fact, the dangers of renewed civil war -- after the pull-out date, if not before -- have become worse than ever.

U.S. casualties quickly revealed how superficial the humanitarian concern for Somalis was. "There are a lot of Somalis who deserve to be simply killed," a senior U.S. officer said in Mogadishu, and a reporter noted that the sentiment was widely shared among the soldiers. {125 } Polls showed that half the American public favored withdrawal, even if another famine were to result. "It's really very simple," said one citizen. "If I have to choose between pictures of starving Somalian babies or dead American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, well, I don't want to see any more dead Americans. Sorry." {126 }

The United States was thus going to follow one of its two basic policies toward Africans: either dominate them or let them starve. There was, however, an alternative to both of these racist policies. Even in December 1992 it would have made sense to bring back UN special representative Mohammed Sahnoun or someone using his approach. He painstakingly built up the trust of all parties in Somalia, not just warlords but clan elders and other more peaceable elements, and was laying the basis for the political process that is a prerequisite for the survival of Somalia. A Sahnoun would have understood how to deal with Aidid, neither boosting him nor trying to humiliate him. The negotiator should also have been given more clout. He or she needed not just backing from the UN bureaucracy, but economic incentives to help encourage political reconciliation, a counter-weight to the existing incentives that encouraged looting and warfare. It also would have made sense to press for the deployment of the 3,500 UN troops, as Sahnoun had urged. The Rahanwayn clan in particular had been unable to protect itself from the depredations of the other, well-armed clans and some international protection was necessary. But this was a far cry from the massive U.S. troop presence. Where patient negotiation with Somalis was called for, Washington sent in the Marines.

As things developed, the Pentagon did not get the boost it wanted from the Somalia operation. If anything, the experience has made future interventions more difficult rather than less so. (Indeed, some Republicans who opposed Restore Hope back in December 1992 worried that it might drain the Pentagon's resources and erode its willingness to intervene in more important places. {127 }) On the other hand, it has made the penchant for U.S. unilateralism greater than ever. Secretary of State Warren Christopher concluded that multilateralism "is warranted only when it serves the central purpose of American foreign policy, to protect American interests," while columnist William Safire wrote that the lesson of Somalia was: "Do not put U.S. troops under UN control anytime, anyplace." {128 }

But the real lesson of Operation Restore Hope was provided by Kevin M. Cahill, an American doctor with thirty years' experience in Somalia. Writing in early 1993, Cahill warned that he had

a physician's profound mistrust of 'quick fix' therapy, of the dangers in deceiving ourselves that dramatic displays can ever substitute for the tedious tasks required to truly rehabilitate a gravely wounded nation. Changing a humanitarian effort into a security action may offer a temporary respite from the pain of frustration, but it reflects an approach that, while gratifying the short-term needs of the healer, fails to resolve the problems of the patient. In fact, the vast scope of military action adversely alters the critical relationship between donor and recipient, drains the finite resources available, and imposes a transient mirage of well-being that simply cannot be sustained. {129 }

 

Notes

 

I would like to thank Rob Buchanan, Alex de Waal, Jeffrey A. Lefebvre, and Said S. Samatar for sharing some of their expertise with me, and Stan Karp and Bob Rosen for their useful comments. None of these people are responsible for any of my conclusions or errors.

 

  1. U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on African Affairs, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, Hearings, 94th Cong., 2nd sess., August 1976, pp. 35-36, 59, 118; Bereket H. Selassie, "The American Dilemma on the Horn," in African Crisis Areas and U.S. Foreign Policy, ed. Gerald J. Bender, James S. Coleman, and Richard L. Sklar, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, pp. 168-69; Jeffrey A. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn: U.S. Security Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia, 1953-1991, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991, pp. 145-47.
  2. Aryeh Neier, "Somalia: Human Rights and the Law," Horn of Africa, vol. 13, nos. 1 & 2, Jan.-June 1990, p. 75.
  3. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, p. 175.
  4. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 175-76.
  5. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 176-77, 185-89; Robert F. Gorman, Political Conflict on the Horn of Africa, New York: Praeger, 1981, p. 182.
  6. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981, New York: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1983, pp. 180-81; Raymond Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan, Washington, DC: Brookings, 1985, p. 647.
  7. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, p. 197.
  8. Brzezinski, Power and Principle, pp. 207, 554.
  9. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 202, 208.
  10. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 200-02, 207, 213-14, 221.
  11. Guy Arnold, "America's Ally in the Horn," Africa Report, Nov.-Dec. 1983, p. 51.
  12. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 223, 280, 14, 228-29.
  13. Selassie, "American Dilemma on the Horn," p. 175; Anthony Shaw, "Barre's Balancing Act," Africa Report, Nov.-Dec. 1985, p. 28; Guy Arnold, "America's Ally in the Horn," Africa Report, Nov-Dec 1983, p. 52; Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, p. 280. Military relations with Somalia were frustrating for Washington: in 1984 Barre's armed forces accidently shot down two U.S. F-15 aircraft. Jane Hunter, "Somalia: Politics of Famine," CovertAction, Winter 1992- 93, no. 43, p. 54.
  14. UNICEF, The State of the World's Children, 1989, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989, p. 94; "The Balance Sheet on Africa's Human Development," Africa Report, July-Aug. 1990, p. 5; U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1985, Washington, DC: 1985, p. 80.
  15. Peter J. Schraeder, "The Horn of Africa: U.S. Foreign Policy in An Altered Cold War Environment," Middle East Journal, vol. 46, no. 4, Autumn 1992, pp. 573-74; Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 245-46.
  16. Richard Greenfield, "Siad's Sad Legacy," Africa Report, March-April 1991, pp. 17-18; Richard Greenfield, "Barre's Unholy Alliances," Africa Report, March-April 1989, pp. 66-67; Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," p. 574.
  17. Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," p. 574; "Somali Government Accused in 50,000 Civilian Deaths," Africa Report, March- April 1990, p. 10.
  18. Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," pp. 574-76; Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, p. 242.
  19. Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," pp. 575-76.
  20. Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," p. 577; Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, pp. 243-44.
  21. Statement of Cong. Henry B. Gonzalez, 14 Dec. 1992, p. 2.
  22. Greenfield, "Siad's Sad Legacy," p. 18.
  23. Greenfield, "Siad's Sad Legacy," p. 14.
  24. Peter Biles, "Starting from Scratch," Africa Report, May-June 1991, p. 56.
  25. Schraeder, "The Horn of Africa," pp. 583-4.
  26. Schraeder, "The Horn of Africa," p. 585.
  27. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn, p. 268; Schraeder, "Horn of Africa," pp. 583-84.
  28. "U.S. Boosts Africa Aid by 40%," Africa Report, Jan.- Feb. 1991, p. 6.
  29. Conversation with Alex de Waal, 22 Dec. 1992; Theodros S. Dagne, Somalia: War and Famine, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, updated 7 Dec. 1992, IB92112, pp. 1-2; Peter Biles, "Going It Alone," Africa Report, Jan.- Feb. 1992, p. 58.
  30. Biles, "Starting from Scratch," p. 58.
  31. "U.S. Boosts Africa Aid by 40%," p. 6; Michael Chege, "Remembering Africa," Foreign Affairs, (America and the World, 1991-92), vol. 71, no. 1, pp. 156, 160.
  32. "Horn of Misery," Africa News, 11-24 May 1992, p. 9; Alex de Waal and Rakiya Omaar, "The Lessons of Famine," Africa Report, Nov.-Dec. 1992, p. 64.
  33. Jeffrey Clark, "Debacle in Somalia," Foreign Affairs, (America and the World, 1992/93), vol. 72, no. 1, pp. 118-19.
  34. "While UN Fights Itself, Somalis Struggle for Survival," Africa Report, Sept-Oct. 1992, p. 5.
  35. Clark, "Debacle in Somalia," pp. 118-19.
  36. Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal, "Who Prolongs Somalia's Agony?" New York Times (NYT), 26 Feb. 1992, p. A21; Said S. Samatar, "Why the Mogadishu Cease-Fire Will Not Hold," Horn of Africa, vol. 13, nos. 3 & 4, vol. 14, no. 1 & 2, 1990-91, p. 141.
  37. Jennifer Leaning, "When the System Doesn't Work: Somalia 1992," in A Framework for Survival, ed. Kevin M. Cahill, New York: Basic Books, 1993, pp. 108-09.
  38. Jane Perlez, "Somalis Assert Marines Have to Secure Villages," NYT, 23 Dec. 1992, p. A6.
  39. Leaning, "When the System Doesn't Work," pp. 114-15; Jane Perlez, "Deaths in Somalia Outpace Delivery of Food," NYT, 19 July 1992, p. I:1.
  40. Paul Lewis, "Security Council Weighs Role in Somali Civil War," NYT, 18 March 1992, p. A9; Schraeder, "The Horn of Africa," p. 586.
  41. Paul Lewis, "Reined in by U.S., UN Limits Mission to Somalia," NYT, 26 April 1992, p. I:15; Reed Kramer, "Somalia Rescue Begins," Africa News, 3 Aug-16 Aug 1992, p. 2. For the U.S. defense of its position, see Thomas R. Pickering, letter, NYT, 9 May 1992, p. I:22.
  42. Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 25 July 1992, p. 2185.
  43. Jane Perlez, "Somali Warlord Agrees to Allow UN to Protect Its Relief Supplies," NYT, 13 Aug. 1992, p. A9; Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 8 Aug 1992, p. 2383.
  44. Samatar, "Why the Mogadishu Cease-Fire Will Not Hold," p. 141; Jane Perlez, "Profile: Mohammed Sahnoun; A Diplomat Matches Wits With Chaos in Somalia," NYT, 20 Sept. 1992, p. IV:4; Jeffrey Bartholet, "In the Grip of 'The Poor Man's War'," Newsweek, 24 Aug. 1992, p. 51; "While UN Fights Itself, Somalis Struggle for Survival," Africa Report, Sept-Oct. 1992, p. 6.
  45. Jane Perlez, "Somali Warlord Agrees to Allow UN to Protect Its Relief Supplies," NYT, 13 Aug. 1992, p. A1.
  46. Tom Post, et al., "How Do You Spell Relief?" Newsweek, 23 Nov. 1992, p. 38; Jane Perlez, "Armed UN Troops Arrive in Somalia," NYT, 15 Sept. 1992, p. A10; Jane Perlez, "Profile: Mohammed Sahnoun; A Diplomat Matches Wits With Chaos in Somalia," NYT, 20 Sept. 1992, p. IV:4; Jane Perlez, "Chaotic Somalia Starves as Strongmen Battle," NYT, 4 Oct. 1992, p. I:1.
  47. Conversation with Alex de Waal, 2 Jan. 1993; Jane Perlez, "UN Relief Official in Somalia Quits in Dispute with Headquarters," NYT, 28 Oct. 1992, p. A6; Jane Perlez, "Profile: Mohammed Sahnoun; A Diplomat Matches Wits With Chaos in Somalia," NYT, 20 Sept. 1992, p. IV:4.
  48. Jane Perlez, "Hungry Somalis Still Die But Crops Grow, Too," NYT, 23 Oct. 1992, p. A1.
  49. Jane Perlez, "Aide's Departure Another Blow to UN in Somalia," NYT, 31 Oct. 1992, p. 2; Dagne, Somalia: War and Famine, p. 5. For documentation on the UN's sorry record in Somalia that provoked Sahnoun's criticism, see Ray Bonner, "Why We Went," Mother Jones, March/April 1993, pp. 53-60.
  50. "While UN Fights Itself, Somalis Struggle for Survival," Africa Report, Sept-Oct. 1992, p. 5-6.
  51. Jane Perlez, "U.S. Says Airlifts Fail Somali Needy," NYT, 31 July 1992, p. A9.
  52. Jane Perlez, "U.S. Encounters Snags in Airlift to Aid Somalia," NYT, 22 Aug. 1992, p. I:1, I:4. Only at the end of July 1992 did officials of the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance conclude that ways had to be found to saturate Somalia with food so that the incentive for fighting would be reduced. Leaning, "When the System Doesn't Work," p. 117.
  53. Michael Wines, "Aides Say U.S. Role in Somalia Gives Bush a Way to Exit in Glory," NYT, 6 Dec. 1992, p. I:14.
  54. Jane Perlez, "U.S. Encounters Snags in Airlift to Aid Somalia," NYT, 22 Aug. 1992, p. I:4. In Geneva, a Red Cross official, commenting on the sudden U.S. move, said that "they've had eight months to do it and they haven't done it. To do it in a hurry is dangerous from a security point of view."
  55. Jane Perlez, "Accord Reached, Somalia Airlift Will Start Today," NYT, 28 Aug. 1992, p. A3.
  56. Paul Lewis, "U.S. Offering Plan for Somali Relief," NYT, 18 Sept. 1992, p. A10.
  57. Conversation with Alex de Waal, 22 Dec. 1992; Alexander Cockburn, "A Cold Look at Operation Restore Hope," Wall Street Journal, 24 Dec. 1992, p. 5.
  58. See e.g., Michael Wines, "Aides Say U.S. Role in Somalia Gives Bush a Way to Exit in Glory," NYT, 6 Dec. 1992, p. I:14; Dagne, Somalia: War and Famine, summary; Jane Perlez, "Talk of Troops Rattles Aid Workers," NYT, 27 Nov. 1992, p. A14; Jane Perlez, "U.S. Forces Arrive in Somalia On Mission to Aid the Starving," NYT, 9 Dec. 1992, p. 16.
  59. Conversation with Alex de Waal, 22 Dec. 1992; de Waal and Omaar, "Lessons of Famine," p. 63; Alex de Waal and Rakiya Omaar, "The Failings of Operation Restore Hope," Peace and Democracy News, Summer 1993, p. 34; Donatella Lorch, "Last-Ditch Effort to Transport Aid Thwarted by Somalia's Instability," NYT, 6 Dec. 1992, p. I:14; Jane Perlez, "Thievery and Extortion Halt Flow of UN Food to Somalis," NYT, 2 Dec. 1992, p. A18.
  60. E.g., Jane Perlez, "Talk of Troops Rattles Aid Workers," NYT, 27 Nov. 1992, p. A14; Seth Faison, "UN Head Proposes Expanded Efforts for Somali Relief," NYT, 25 July 1992, p. I:1; Jane Perlez, "Somalia 1992: Picking Up Pieces as Famine Subsides," NYT, 31 Dec. 1992, p. A8; Dagne, Somalia: War and Famine, p. 8; Sam Dillon, "Better Late Than Never, Aid Organizations Say," NYT, 21 Dec. 1992, p. A12.
  61. Jane Perlez, "Somalia 1992: Picking Up Pieces as Famine Subsides," NYT, 31 Dec. 1992, p. A8.
  62. Jane Perlez, "Hungry Somalis Still Die But Crops Grow, Too," NYT, 23 Oct. 1992, p. A1; Jane Perlez, "Somali Gunmen, Pushed Away From Capital, Take Terror Inland," 11 Dec. 1992, p. A22; Donatella Lorch, "Marines Escort Food to Hungry In Somali Town," NYT, 17 Dec. 1992, p. A11; Eric Schmitt, "Troops in Somalia Close In On Goal of Aiding Hungry," NYT, 16 Dec. 1992, pp. A1, A10.
  63. Thomas L. Friedman, "Crossing a Line, and Redrawing It," NYT, 5 Dec. 1992, p. 4.
  64. Raymond W. Copson and Theodros S. Dagne, Somalia: Operation Restore Hope, Cong. Research Service, Library of Congress, IB92131, updated 9 Dec. 1992, p. 7.
  65. See Jeffrey A. Lefebvre, "The Geopolitics of the Horn of Africa," Middle East Policy, vol. 1, no. 3, 1992, passim.
  66. Botswana's midweekly Gazette, quoted in statement of Cong. Donald M. Payne, 17 Dec. 1992, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, p. 6.
  67. Mark Fineman notes in his "The Oil Factor in Somalia," Los Angeles Times 18 Jan. 1993, p. A1ff, that Conoco Oil rented its Mogadishu offices to the U.S. government as headquarters for the U.S. special envoy. This shows that Conoco supported the intervention, but does not prove that oil was the motivation behind the U.S. intervention.
  68. William Safire, "Switching the Goal Posts," NYT, 24 Dec. 1992, p. A17.
  69. Colin L. Powell, "U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead," Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 5, Winter 1992/93, p. 33.
  70. Powell, "U.S. Forces: Challenges Ahead," pp. 33, 36; David Wood, "U.S. troops may face greater risk without 'decisive force' in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 3 Dec. 1992, p. 10.
  71. "Transcript of President's Address on Somalia," NYT, 5 Dec. 1992, p. 4.
  72. AP, "Bush to spend New Year's holiday visiting troops, aid sites in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 23 Dec. 1992, p. 4.
  73. Copson and Dagne, Somalia: Operation Restore Hope, summary page.
  74. Thomas L. Friedman, "Crossing a Line, and Redrawing It," NYT, 5 Dec. 1992, p. 4.
  75. Michael Wines, "Aides Say U.S. Role in Somalia Gives Bush a Way to Exit in Glory," NYT, 6 Dec. 1992, p. I:14.
  76. See Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, Boston: South End Press, 1979, pp. 105-298; Alexander George, ed., Western State Terrorism, New York: Routledge, 1991; Stephen R. Shalom, Imperial Alibis, Boston: South End Press, 1993, pp. 111- 138.
  77. Clifford Krauss, "Washington Seeks Conditions on Plan for Somalia Force, NYT, 27 Nov. 1992, p. A1.
  78. Pat Towell, "Suffering Spurs Unprecedented Step As UN Approves Deployment," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 5 Dec. 1992, p. 3763.
  79. Russell Watson et al., "It's Our Fight Now," Newsweek, 14 Dec. 1992, p. 34.
  80. Paul Lewis, "Key UN Members Agree to U.S. Force In Somali Mission," NYT, 3 Dec. 1992, pp. A1, A14.
  81. Paul Lewis, "Key UN Members Agree to U.S. Force In Somali Mission," NYT, 3 Dec. 1992, p. A1.
  82. Jane Perlez, "Somalia, We Are Here! (Now What Do We Do?)" NYT, 20 Dec. 1992, p. E3; Eric Schmitt, "Foreign Units by the Dozen, and All 'Elite'," NYT, 16 Dec. 1992, p. A11.
  83. Paul Lewis, "Painting Nations Blue," NYT, 9 Dec. 1992, p. A17; Leslie H. Gelb, "The UN Chief's Dilemma," NYT, 31 Dec. 1992, p. A25. Some U.S. officials, of course, would like to see UN forces which are totally subordinate to Washington, a sort of international mercenary force available to the rich.
  84. "UN Chief Requests Big New Somalia Force Now," NYT, 1 Dec. 1992, p. A10; Boutros Boutros-Ghali, "Empowering the United Nations," Foreign Affairs, vol. 72, no. 5, Winter 1992/93, p. 95n1; Paul Lewis, "UN's Top Troop Official Sees No Need for War Room," NYT, 27 Dec. 1992, p. 12.
  85. Leslie H. Gelb, "The UN Chief's Dilemma," NYT, 31 Dec. 1992, p. A25. As if to show the Secretary General just who's boss, when Boutros-Ghali visited Mogadishu on January 3, Marines delayed awhile before rescuing him from an angry crowd. Paul Lewis, "At UN Compound, in Due Course, Marines Ride to Rescue," New York Times, 4 Jan. 1993, p. A6.
  86. James Barron, "Live, and in Force, It's Somalia With Brokaw," NYT, 9 Dec. 1992, p. A16. Barron cites Jon Katz, media critic for Rolling Stone and a former executive producer of CBS Morning News, as explaining that pictures of the troops reflected a skillful Pentagon effort to redefine the military's image in the post-cold war world. "The bottom line is, the heart of every 10-year-old in the country has to beat a little faster when they see the Seals storming ashore."
  87. Jonathan Alter, "Did the Press Push Us Into Somalia?" Newsweek, 21 Dec. 1992, p. 33. See also Michael R. Gordon, "TV Army on the Beach Took U.S. by Surprise," NYT, 10 Dec. 1992, p. A18.
  88. Statement of Cong. Donald M. Payne, 17 Dec. 1992, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, pp. 7-8; Jane Perlez, "Somali Gunmen, Pushed Away From Capital, Take Terror Inland," 11 Dec. 1992, p. A1; Russell Watson et al., "Into Somalia," Newsweek, 21 Dec. 1992, p. 28; Reuters, "U.S. denies Somalia relief moving too slowly; Bush sees 'first-class job'," Newark Star Ledger, 15 Dec. 1992, p. 10; Douglas Waller, "Everyone Is Sniping at the Marines," Newsweek, 28 Dec. 1992, p. 39.
  89. Douglas Waller, "Everyone Is Sniping at the Marines," Newsweek, 28 Dec. 1992, p. 39.
  90. LA Times Wire Service, "Waiting for food, Somalis watch death toll rise," Newark Star Ledger, 15 Dec. 1992, p. 11.
  91. Jane Perlez, "Somali Gunmen, Pushed Away From Capital, Take Terror Inland," 11 Dec. 1992, p. A1; Jane Perlez, "General Is Wary of Sending Force to Somali Interior," NYT, 14 Dec. 1992, p. A8.
  92. Jane Perlez, "Gunmen Reappear in Somalia, Renewing Security Concerns," NYT, 18 Dec. 1992, p. A10.
  93. Jane Perlez, "General Is Wary of Sending Force to Somali Interior," NYT, 14 Dec. 1992, p. A8.
  94. Jane Perlez, "Somali Gunmen, Pushed Away From Capital, Take Terror Inland," 11 Dec. 1992, p. A22.
  95. AP, "Marines erase Somali attackers," Newark Star Ledger, 13 Dec. 1992, pp. I:1, 31. See also Jane Perlez, "Somalia, We Are Here! (Now What Do We Do?)" NYT, 20 Dec. 1992, p. E3.
  96. Donatella Lorch, "Marines Escort Food to Hungry In Somali Town," NYT, 17 Dec. 1992, p. A1.
  97. Jane Perlez, "American Troops Bear Gifts on a Human Scale," NYT, 26 Dec. 1992, p. 5.
  98. Clinton speech, 7 Oct., New York Times, 8 Oct. 1993, p. A18.
  99. De Waal and Omaar, "Failings of Operation Restore Hope," p. 33.
  100. Rakiya Omaar and Alex de Waal, "Somalia's Uninvited Saviors," Washington Post, 13 Dec. 1992, pp. C1, C4; de Waal and Omaar, "Failings of Operation Restore Hope," pp. 34-35.
  101. Jane Perlez, "Somali Clan Killed Dozens of Rivals, U.S. Officials Say," NYT, 29 Dec. 1992, p. A1; AP, "U.S. troops take over wild sector of Mogadishu on eve of Bush visit," Newark Star Ledger, 30 Dec. 1992, p. 6; Jane Perlez, "Gunmen Reappear in Somalia, Renewing Security Concerns," NYT, 18 Dec. 1992, pp. A1, A10; "U.S. force plots move in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 19 Dec. 1992, p. 1; "Somali Looters Follow the Troops," Newark Star Ledger, 18 Dec. 1992, p. 1; "Food riot erupts in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 26 Dec. 1992, p. 1; "Troops plan takeover of more Somali towns," Newark Star Ledger, 27 Dec. 1992, p. 2.
  102. Diana Jean Schemo, "As Hunger Ebbs, Somalia Faces Need to Rebuild," New York Times, 7 Feb. 1993, p. I:3.
  103. Jonathan Stevenson, "Hope Restored in Somalia?" Foreign Policy, Summer 1993, p. 139; Jennifer Leaning, "When the System Doesn't Work: Somalia 1992," in A Framework for Survival, ed. Kevin M. Cahill, New York: Basic Books, 1993, p. 108; Reuters, "Irish Nurse Dies in Raid On Convoy in Somalia," New York Times, 23 Feb. 1993, p. A6.
  104. Donatella Lorch, "Red Cross Won't Use U.S. Troop Escorts in Somalia," NYT, 20 Dec. 1992, p. I:16.
  105. AP, "Two GI's Wounded in an Ambush in Somalia," New York Times, 25 July 1993, p. I:4.
  106. Diana Jean Schemo, "Worry in Gunless Somalia Aid Offices," New York Times, 1 Mar. 1993, p. A6. See also Diana Jean Schemo, "Sweep for Weapons in Somali Port Brings Relief Operations to a Halt," New York Times, 2 March 1993, p. A2.
  107. Stevenson, "Hope Restored in Somalia?" p. 139.
  108. Jane Perlez, "Somali Clan Killed Dozens of Rivals, U.S. Officials Say," NYT, 29 Dec. 1992, p. A2.
  109. AP, "UN Halts Somali Food Shipment After One Faction Shells a Vessel," NYT, 26 Nov. 92, p. A10.
  110. Eric Schmitt, "They Keep the Supply Funnel to Somalia Open," NYT, 25 Dec. 1992, p. A10.
  111. Donatella Lorch, "Army Teams 'Marketing' Job Is Selling U.S. Role," NYT, 27 Dec. 1992, p. I:10.
  112. Conversation with Alex de Waal, 22 Dec. 1992; Jane Perlez, "Somalis, Not U.S., Disarm Gunmen, a Top Aide Insists," NYT, 6 Dec. 1992, p. I:14.
  113. AP, "U.S. helicopters draw fire as Somali clan leader warns of more bloodshed," Newark Star Ledger, 21 Oct. 1993, p. 9; Donatella Lorch, "From Aidid's Supporters, Three Main Demands," New York Times, 21 Oct. 1993, p. A8. Robert Oakley concurs in this estimation. See Elaine Sciolino, "Somalia Puzzle: What Is the American Strategy?" New York Times, 5 Oct. 1993, p. A3.
  114. Tom Farer, commissioned by the UN special representative to Somalia to report on the June 5, 1993 clash between Somalis and Pakistani peacekeepers, found that a senior adviser to the UN mission in Somalia, April Glaspie (the U.S. diplomat who was less than vigorous in warning Saddam Hussein not to invade Kuwait in 1990), "openly manifested sympathy for one of Aidid's most important opponents...and was less than discreet about her hostility to Aidid." (Washington Post, quoted in Alexander Cockburn, Nation, 18 Oct. 1993, p. 415.) See also Donatella Lorch, "In an Edgy Mogadishu, Relief Efforts Are in Jeopardy," New York Times, 23 June 1993, p. A3.
  115. Aryeh Neier, "Watching Rights," Nation 15 Nov. 1993, p. 562; Michael Maren, "The Mogadishu Paradox," Village Voice, 16 Nov. 1993, p. 18.
  116. Douglas Jehl, "Fear of New Factional Strife Worries UN in Mogadishu," New York Times, 24 Oct. 1993, p. I:10; AP, "Planned protest raises tensions in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 25 Oct. 1993, p. 8; AP, "10 Somalis killed and 45 wounded in battles along Aidid's stronghold," Newark Star Ledger, 26 Oct. 1993, p. 6.
  117. Michael R. Gordon and John H. Cushman Jr., "After Supporting Hunt for Aidid, U.S. Is Blaming UN for Losses," New York Times, 18 Oct. 1993, pp. A1, A8; Michael R. Gordon with Thomas L. Friedman, "Details of U.S. Raid in Somalia: Success So Near, a Loss So Deep," New York Times, 25 Oct. 1993, p. A10; Clinton speech, 7 Oct., New York Times, 8 Oct. 1993, p. 4; Michael R. Gordon, "U.S. and Allies Strike Hard Against Somali Clan Leader," New York Times, 17 June 1993, p. A14; Thomas L. Friedman, "Dealing With Somalia: Vagueness As A Virtue," New York Times, 15 Oct. 1993, p. A1.
  118. For example, after one clash the UN said there were 15 dead and 15 wounded, while Aidid supporters claimed there were 73 dead and 234 wounded. The Red Cross reported 54 Somalis died and 174 were wounded, numbers much closer to Aidid's than to the UN's. AP, "UN envoy defends pursuit of Somali warlord despite calls for truce," Newark Star Ledger, 14 July 1993, p. 9.
  119. Donatella Lorch, "Action in Mogadishu Comes After Hours of Bombing by U.S.," New York Times, 18 June 1993, p. A14; Star-Ledger Wire Services, "President proclaims 'success' in Somalia," Newark Star Ledger, 18 June 1993, p. 10; Washington Post Wire Service, "Elite Rangers quit Somalia with mission undone despite heavy casualties," Newark Star Ledger, 22 Oct. 1993, p. 14; Donatella Lorch, "Ranger Raid in Somalia Captures Only UN Aides," New York Times, 31 Aug. 1993, p. A11; Alexander Cockburn, Nation, 18 Oct. 1993, p. 415. The UN called the raid on the UN development Program compound a success and "a textbook example of how these operations should go" using "lightning speed and overpowering force." Star-Ledger Wire Services, "Blundered raid to capture Somalia warlord further tarnishes UN image," Newark Star Ledger, 31 Aug. 1993, p. 7.
  120. Donatella Lorch, "UN Says It Will Press Effort to Disarm Somalis," New York Times, 14 July 1993, p. A6.
  121. Star-Ledger Wire Services, "UN troops cited a abusers of Somali rights," Newark Star Ledger, 12 Aug. 1993, p. 7; Donatella Lorch, "UN Says It Will Press Effort to Disarm Somalis," New York Times, 14 July 1993, p. A6; AP, "UN envoy defends pursuit of Somali warlord despite calls for truce," Newark Star Ledger, 14 July 1993, p. 9; Steven A. Holmes, "The Man Who Makes Somalia Worse," New York Times, 15 Aug. 1993, p. E5; Karen De Witt, "Eritrean Criticizes American's Strategy On Crisis in Somalia," New York Times, 10 Oct. 1993, p. I:17.
  122. Washington Post Wire Service, "Administration officials defend Somalia intervention, deny taking sides," Newark Star Ledger, 30 July 1993, p. 4.
  123. Donatella Lorch, "Tensions Are Rising in Somalia Amid Fears of Renewed Civil War," New York Times, 29 Oct. 1993, p. A8; Elaine Sciolino, "A Truce is Offered by Somali General to UN- U.S. Forces," New York Times, 10 Oct. 1993, p. I:16.
  124. Quoted in Sidney Blumenthal, "Why Are We In Somalia?" New Yorker, 25 Oct. 1993, p. 58.
  125. David Wood, "Shared horrors of battle forge an iron bond among fighting men," Newark Star Ledger, 7 Oct. 1993, p. 9.
  126. B. Drummond Ayres Jr., "A Common Cry Across the U.S.: It's Time to Exit," New York Times, 9 Oct. 1993, p. I:1.
  127. Pat Towell, "Suffering Spurs Unprecedented Step As UN Approves Deployment," Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, 5 Dec. 1992, p. 3761; Bruce W. Nelan, "Taking on the Thugs," Time, 14 Dec. 1992, p. 29.
  128. Elaine Sciolino, "U.S. Narrows Terms for Its Peacekeepers," New York Times, 23 Sept. 1993, p. A8; William Safire, "Depart With Honor," New York Times, 7 Oct. 1993, p. A29.
  129. Kevin M. Cahill, "Introduction," in A Framework for Survival, ed. Kevin M. Cahill, New York: Basic Books, 1993, pp. 8-9.