Friday, February 23, 2007

"Relative success" in Somalia

I sent the following letter to the editor of the New York Times this morning, in response to its front-page article "U.S. Used Bases in Ethiopia to Hunt Al Qaeda in Africa":

To the Editor:

If some U.S. officials regard our wrecking-ball intervention in Somalia to have been a "relative success," their notion of success is a baffling one. Like our search for WMD in Iraq, our dragnet for Al Qaeda operatives in the Somali desert has turned up nothing useful whatever in our war on terror. Instead, by contracting the services of the hated warlords and then relying on the less-than-impartial Ethiopians for intelligence, we "succeeded" only in killing and maiming scores of Somali nomads while snuffing out the only gleam of hope for national recovery that Somalia has seen in sixteen years. Along the way, of course, we managed to derail chances for an accommodation among feuding clans that might have allowed the fragile transitional government to assume effective power; we plunged the country's heartland back into the nightmare of violence it had begun to escape; and we shredded whatever admiration and gratitude toward the U.S. remained among a people that desperately wished to be our friends. What a strange measure of success . . . but then we're also "succeeding" in Iraq, aren't we?

Frank Crigler
Durham, North Carolina

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