In a sharp contrast to my tone in last week’s post, this week I have to ask when in the world’s history have powerful countries stood idly by while a state completely collapsed upon itself? At what moment in time did it ever become acceptable for human beings to watch undisturbed as their fellow man lived in fear and anarchy due to circumstances beyond their control? When did mankind decide that was okay?
Well fortunately, I have the answer: in 1991 when the Somali government collapsed and the world effectively did nothing. Although numerous subsequent efforts have been made to form a new government and restore order in the country, these efforts have largely failed and 20 years later, many Somalis still live in a state of chaos and uncertainty, to put it lightly. What’s even more disturbing about this troubled reality is that major Western powers, namely the United States, with vast military resources at their disposal have provided extensive military and humanitarian aid and produced tangible, (hopefully) sustainable results in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but little lasting progress has been made in Somalia. This doesn’t suggest that Somalia is a hopeless cause, but rather that our foreign policy has been governed entirely by politics and corporate interest (see Haliburton).
Unfortunately Somalis have suffered for 20 years as a result of this deliberate neglect. Fortunately the United States and its allies have a chance to make it right. With the AU’s recent announcement of a new effort to fight the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, the US has an opportunity to increase its involvement in the fight for peace and stability in Somalia by providing military resources and even assistance to this international effort without having to be any more involved than is politically feasible.
While this kind of action won’t pressure the US to amend its foreign policy to a force for good rather than a force for re-election, it will at least offer a chance for lasting stability in a desperate situation. Perhaps once our leaders are more concerned with people than the electorate, when in the world this negligence becomes acceptable will be in the past, for good.