Has Somalia reached bottom?
The big question in the U.S. these days is, When will our country’s economic recession ‘reach bottom’ and begin to turn around? I certainly can’t answer that question, but I have to believe that the fundamental richness of this country ensures that it’s not going to go bankrupt. There may be more hard times ahead as our economy readjusts fully to global realities, but with a brilliant new leadership team about to take office in Washington I’m hopeful we’ll begin to see signs of recovery before very long.
One might ask the same question about Somalia: After sixteen years on a bumpy and painful downward slide, is there a chance that the worst is over and that Somalia may be ready to bounce back?
There are at least a few clear signs of impending change: The Ethiopian occupation appears to be winding down. The hapless transitional government admits it has lost control of any significant part of the country and is on the verge of total collapse. The African Union’s peacekeeping mission seems to have thrown in the towel and is wanly hoping for relief by a more robust international force. And the United States government, along with its European allies, is too taken up with its own economic problems and its Middle East difficulties to think seriously about pursuing its War on Terror any further in Somalia’s deserts (chasing “pirates” off the coast is viewed as a preferable and less costly alternative with much more media appeal).
Granted that not all of these signs of change can be viewed as wholly positive. Indeed, some are likely to be cited as evidence that Somalia is plunging deeper into chaos. Certainly they do not offer any immediate hope for relieving the plight of the throngs of starving refugees that years of conflict have produced. Indeed, among those paying any attention at all these days to Somalia, there will be increasing concern over what to do to be helpful and how to go about doing it, in the face of such anarchy, and no easy answers spring to mind.
But some gloomy economists are predicting a deepening economic depression in America too, in the absence of costly government bail-outs.
I just don't buy that, either for Somalia or the U.S. Maybe it’s nothing but the intoxicating effect I’m feeling over the recent election outcome here, but I'd rather put a more positive spin on these developments and predict they bode well for Somalia’s future and our relations with that country. If the rest of us can find ways to be compassionate and supportive without being meddlesome and directive, perhaps Somalis themselves may at last have an opportunity—perhaps the right word is “obligation”—to take control of their country’s future. It just may be, as the poets say, that “the night is darkest just before dawn.”
Friday, November 21, 2008
Has Somalia reached bottom?