(TMU Op-Ed) — Why is the United States currently at war in Somalia? This question is barely mentioned or discussed in the current media landscape. If we did have an honest and transparent media, the question of Somalia would be discussed at length and not in isolation, either. It would be talked about in a broader context of U.S.-led and backed wars in the region, which not only kill civilians on a rampant basis, but appear to be adding fuel to the fire of terrorism as opposed to extinguishing it.
According to a recent report released last week by the Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs Costs of War project, as long as the U.S. continues to target the terrorist group al-Shabaab with counterinsurgency tactics which have been commonplace throughout the U.S.-led war on terror, the strategy will fail.
“The past several decades of U.S. intervention in Somalia produced violent destabilization, dysfunction, and uncertainty, creating refugee outflows and terrorist networks against which the U.S. is currently tightening its security cordons,” the report states.
The report further notes that al-Shabaab is not simply a terrorist group in the way it is typically portrayed in the media and through official U.S. policy, but also has its roots in a local resistance movement against foreign interventionism.
This conundrum was brilliantly explained by journalist Glenn Greenwald three years ago when he wrote:
“Since 2001, the U.S. government has legally justified its we-bomb-wherever-we-want approach by pointing to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), enacted by Congress in the wake of 9/11 to authorize the targeting of al Qaeda and ‘affiliated’ forces. But al Shabaab did not exist in 2001 and had nothing to do with 9/11. Indeed, the group has not tried to attack the U.S. but instead, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage noted in 2011, ‘is focused on a parochial insurgency in Somalia.’ As a result, reported Savage, even ‘the [Obama] administration does not consider the United States to be at war with every member of the Shabaab’.”
We could find parallels with many terrorist groups across the globe who have similar complicated histories, yet all are painted with the same brush by the U.S. government. As Four-Star General Wesley Clark once said in an interview with Democracy Now!, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem has to look like a nail.”
This is not unknown to the U.S. government. As frustrating as this is, it seems as though the American (and global) public deserve some answers as to why the U.S. continues a tried-and-true strategy which kills civilians left, right and centre and only aids in creating more terrorists in the process, further putting more innocent people at risk in the long term.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International investigated just five military strikes out of a possible 100 carried out since March 2017 under the Trump administration and found that the strikes resulted in at least 14 civilian deaths. Amnesty suggested that these attacks likely amounted to war crimes, even while the U.S. government was echoing a nonsensical claim that it had killed zero civilians in Somalia.
One farmer in a Somali village told Amnesty “we did not expect the world to be silent.” However, it isn’t that the world is silent—it’s our media paradigm that sees no added benefit in exploring the downside to prosecuting endless and pointless wars which endanger civilian lives in foreign countries across the planet.
“The ‘war on terror’ has been a terrorist-creating system from its origins, not just Somalia,” public intellectual Noam Chomsky told the Mind Unleashed. “Before the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan-Iraq, al-Qaeda was confined to tribal areas in Afpak. Now its offshoots are all over the world and ineradicable.”
What, therefore, is the geopolitical significance of Somalia, particularly to U.S. interests? Why is it worth pursuing this agenda, given the price the Somali people are forced to pay?
According to the Costs of War report’s author, Catherine Besteman, this is “of course, the million dollar question”—albeit, a “complex and multi-layered” one.
“Analysts writing about all parts of Africa have been arguing that the perpetration of counterinsurgency in the global war on terror has had the result of spreading rather than reducing insurgencies in Africa,” Besteman explained to the Mind Unleashed.
“There is a certain automation to U.S. foreign policy in the form of a default to militarism and military-linked understandings of security that is hard to resist, and which makes alternatives, like negotiations, nearly impossible. Somali analysts of Al Shabaab have been calling for negotiation for years, making very powerful arguments, but the rhetoric of ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists’ remains, it seems hegemonic.
Also, from the Somali side, the war is great for business because of the millions invested in Somali to train and equip security forces, but the understanding that local security forces may not actually share the identical objectives of the U.S. military isn’t as well developed as it might be, something we’ve seen in West African contexts as well. I think that the almost hysterical language of Islamophobia leaves an imprint that is hard to transcend. And the willing involvement and allyship of Ethiopia and Kenya in interventions in Somali carry their own logics as well, even as they align with the goals of the U.S. security state.”
If we want to ever eradicate the global terrorist threat, there can be no doubt that we should strongly alter the very course that we’re on. Besteman’s report, publicized in a recent article by the Guardian, are definitely a step in the right direction toward instigating a global conversation about what the U.S. military is continuing to do in places like Somalia, and at what human cost.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.