Thursday, January 8, 2009

America to Unilaterally Attack Somalia!

Well, no.

The fact is, an international naval force is assembling "to battle pirates off the coast of Somalia." (AP) By the time its mission starts, later this month, more than 20 nations will probably be involved.

The international force must be "unilateral" though. An American is commanding it: U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Terence McKnight.

(U.S. Navy photo by Anderson Bomjardim, used without permission)
Task Force 59's commander, Rear Admiral Terence E. Mcknight, fielding questions at a coalition forces' crisis response exercise. (November 6, 2007)

"Unliateral," "Quagmire," and Living in the Sixties

To be fair, I don't think we'll be hearing all that much about "unilateral" American action against Somali pirates.
  • Terms like "unilateral" and "going it alone" fell out of fashion rather early in the presidential election: Partly, I think, because people found out how many countries had "unilaterally" invaded Iraq.
  • Since it is an international force, credit for success can be doled out to
    • Participating nations
    • The Obama administration
      • Thereby vindicating hopes that Barack Obama will restore America's standing in world opinion
The Obama administration? It's quite possible. Barack Obama will be president by the time the international force's mission is at its most active, and I think it will be much easier to associate successes with the current president. If things don't go well, we'll probably read that the international force was part of the 'failed policies' of George W. Bush.

I'm not cynical: but I have been following the news for decades, and think I've spotted a few journalistic habits.
Woodstock's Over, Disco Died, It's Time to Wake Up
I'm probably preaching to the choir, but: It isn't the sixties any more. It's time to tune in, and drop back in. Quite a bit has happened in the last forty years.

For one thing, the Vietnam war ended: badly, but it ended. From the way "quagmire" kept being used to describe wars fought in deserts, I get the impression that many Americans didn't get the memo.

Word seems to be getting around, though. I recently found "quicksand" used to describe America's 'failure' in the Middle East.

There was, and is, an almost nostalgic quality to many reports from Iraq. A few years ago, headlines like "Iraq's My Lai!" and "Defining atrocity of the Iraq War!" heralded an incident at Haditha, Iraq. People like me, who aren't working for the traditional information gatekeepers, found out what actually happened. The fanfare of "Iraq's My Lai!" faded, like echoes of a trumpet in the hills.

I don't expect people to give up memories of their youth, but I do think that it's a good idea to keep up with the times.

Today, outfits like the Taliban and Al Qaeda have a rather definite idea about how the world should be run. The 9/11 attack that took out New York City's World Trade Center was part of their efforts to make the world safe for their version of Islam.

This is a real threat to America, and practically everybody else. Their approach to people who protest against them, or are counter-cultural (like men who wear trousers), makes Kent State look like a tea party.

Pirates and the War on Terror

The Somali pirates are not Islamic terrorists. In fact, real terrorists, based in south Sudan, attacked the northern-Sudan pirates after a Saudi ship was captured. Apparently, it's okay to pillage non-Muslims, but 'Islamic' interests should be left alone.

The way I see it, dealing with Somali pirates and the War on Terror are closely related, because both stem from cluelessly idealistic efforts to 'help' European colonial holdings become nations (like the Versailles Treaty).

America, at least, seems to have learned something about dealing with people who aren't European. The invasion of Iraq and this international force to deal with piracy are two examples of an approach that seems to work:
  • Treat local leaders with respect
    • If they want to communicate with bullets, oblige them
  • Find out which nations are willing to help deal with a situation
    • Get them organized - odds are, this will mean leading them
  • Let nations whose leaders don't want to help know what you're doing
    • But don't wait for their permission
Let's hope it works in the waters off Somalia.

More-or-less related posts:
News and views:

Related posts on piracy and the War on Terror.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.