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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

On Somalia McCain was Right and I was Wrong Wrong Wrong

Running up the score, the Obama campaign claims to list 17 lies McCain told during the debate (why 17 ? They probably just chose a number at random). The first 16 are whoppers. Most have long since been debunked. The fact that McCain repeats debunked claims, means that they are lies not mistakes.

However, what about number 17 (17 is the unlucky number in Italy)

17. SOMALIA. McCain held up Somalia as an example of failed American foreign policy, saying “we ended up having to withdraw in humiliation.” McCain ignored the amendment he introduced in 1993 to cut off funding for troops in Somalia.

Huh ? This shows that McCain opposed the intervention while it was happening and not just when Clinton agreed that it had failed and withdrew US troops. This was not 20-20 hind sight. Interestingly, the Obama campaign doesn't argue that the US troops shouldn't have been withdrawn (their are fact checking). They suggest that the troops were withdrawn because funding was cut off. This is nonsense. They were withdrawn because some were being killed and they were contributing to the problem not to the solution.

I can say this with 20-20 hindsight, because I disagreed with McCain when he argued for a troop withdrawal and with Clinton when he ordered it (at that point supporters of a cointinued US presence were down to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Robert Waldmann and, maybe, Jonathan Howe) . I thought Somalia would fall back into hot open high level civil war and famine. I was wrong. The level of violence decreased.

On Somalia I was wrong wrong wrong and John McCain was right. He tried to use the power of the purse to end an engagement which was worse than worthless. Also his quoted statement is true. The fact that he denounces using the power of the purse (when not voting against funding for US troops in Iraq himself) is a separate matter.

Look a sweet 16 would have been plenty. There was no need to gild the lilly.


Anonymous said...

That after all this time from the disastrous American encouraged and supported invasion and occupation of Somalia, you still do not understand nwhat was happening and has happened is beyond a disgrace for which you should be more than shamed.

I suggest learning to read and think, beginning with United Nations reports, before preaching about America saving the world.


Robert said...

Come on anonymous tell me what you really think. I must have been unclear. I didn't say anything about my recent beliefs about Somalia (nothing about what I think after all this time). I decided I was wrong wrong wrong soon after US troops withdrew from Unisom II when full scale civil war didn't start up.

Anonymous said...

What I think is that you have no conception of or concern for the people of Somalia, but enjoy playing at political games. Why not pay attention to what has been happening in Somalia since we supported an invasion and occupation in December 2006? Then, worry about a President woh only wants more war in Afghanistan and Pakistan too for that matter.

Robert said...

I understand that you think that, but I don't understand why. I now think I was wrong wrong wrong to oppose the withdrawal of US troops from the UNISOM II force, because I think the US troops were making things worse for Somalis.

The fact that, since then, everything has been horrible in Somalia doesn't mean that it wouldn't be even worse with jumpy US soldiers. The death rate towards the end of UNISOM II was very high.

I am personally sure that my views on Somalia are based only on my perception (wrong and confused as it certainly has been and probably is) of the interests of Somalis.

I don't understand why you think otherwise. It is true, I haven't written on Somalia on this blog. Honestly it's because I have no idea what can be done to help them, not because I don't care.

Anonymous said...

OK; what should not have been done is for America to encourage and support the invasion and occupation of Somalia by Ethiopia in December 2006. What needs to be done now that Ethiopia is gradually leaving the ruins of countryside and lives we have jointly presided over, is to insure the complete leaving as quickly as possible and offer economic assistance even to the insurgent or deposed government leadership.

Payment for African peacekeeping forces would also help. We are overwhelmingly responsible for the violence in Somalia, which was uniting and quieting in 2006 but under an Islamic government that we could not tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Be sure though that whether Obama or McCain becomes President (surely Obama), we will remain as hostile to Somalia as to Afghanistan or Pakistan for that matter. Obama has repeatedly made clear that we will be as bent on military domination from Somalia to Pakistan as ever, only possibly having less of an overt military presence in Iraq.

America is not done with empire, and that means not done presiding over immense suffering with no more than a feigned concern.

Anonymous said...

October 14, 2008

How could Arabs think that Americans don't care about Iraq? "More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Army to let an Iraqi puppy come home with a U.S. soldier, who fears that "Ratchet" could be killed if left behind." *


-- As'ad AbuKhalil

Anonymous said...

I was just annoyed at the narrowness of your original post especially in light of what I am reading continually about Somalia and Ethiopia for that matter from the UN.

Sorry, I may have double posted.

Robert said...

I haven't actually re-read my original post. The tone might have been flippant given the seriousness of the issue. I stress I was talking about what McCain said 15 years ago which is get out of Somalia. This is totally different from McCain's current invade everyone approach. He was the dove, I was the hawk (really honestly well meaning and thinking our soldiers were needed to protect food aid shipments).

Clearly, since then, McCain has managed to be wrong again and again. I assume he supported the Ethiopian invasion, which, as you note, has been horrible for Somalia (invasions tend to be).

I agree that Obama has made it clear that he doesn't believe in international law (or at least thinks it doesn't apply to the USA) and that he "won't hesitate" to violate other countries sovereignty when he thinks it is in the interests of the USA.

The idea that the US isn't above international law remains a minority view on the margins of the debate.

In particular no one who wants to be President can allow him or herself to be suspected of thinking the US doesn't have the right to invade anyone whenever it is in our interests to do so *and* that it is often in our interests even if they didn't attack us first. I don't think it will be that way forever, but we're just getting back to the relatively mild pre 9/11 level of arrogant insanity.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the kind and careful response. I am sure you are politically right, but the situation in and surrounding Somalia (from Yemen to Somaliland to Ethiopia to Kenya, all are effected) has become impossible.

A million Somalis variously displaced, with the UN telling us 43% of all Somalis in need of assistance.

Thank you again for being so kind, where I was not kind.