Thursday, December 14, 2006
Holy War or proxy war in the Horn of Africa?
Ethiopia, an ardently Orthodox Christian nation, is declaring war on Somalia - with U.S. support. The primary reason appears that Ethiopia fears a neighboring nation being an Islamist State. The United States does not want that either, for the irrational fear that it could become a "terrorist" state. For some odd reason, all Somalians have the unpolitically correct label of "Islamofascists." That is who we are are war with, according to many.
Eritrea, having just regained their lands from Ethiopia, supports the Islamist government because Ethiopia does not. Isaias Afwerki , President of Eritrea, wants a proxy war with Ethiopia. With Osama Bin Laden claiming Somalia as primary front for his war on the West, America will want a proxy war through Ethiopia. Somalia, having just regained some stability in 2004, faces the prospect of another harsh conflict.
When nations insist on war as a solution in Somalia, they key questions:
1) Do Ethiopian and Eritrean citizens gain from such a war?
Their money would be better spent diversifying their economies and tending to their own citizens. Their governments seem hellbent on destabilizing the entire region. The people of both nations and Somalia lose.
Ethiopia can certainly slaughter all of its opponents, especially if America chooses a more active role supplying weapons. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi probably assumes more aid from America if he does its bidding. This is quite foolish, like attacking a bees nest assuming you will get help. Neoconservatives may care about foreign aid, but Conservatives do not. And Democrats won't likely give Ethiopia more aid because they follow Bush as blindly as Kazakhstan.
Eritrea is rushing headfirst into fatalities. But they only want a way to hurt Ethiopia without officially declaring war. Foolish, but very ego driven.
2) Does lethality really solve anything?
I have long felt that we need to change the culture of lethality. For too long humans have generally lived peaceful family lives, but accepted that "their" nations military was on "their" side. Lethality is on no man's side but deaths. We need to see militarism for what is it - a last resort and not just a big stick worth wielding at the "other" AKA "the enemy of us."
Somalia is a stabler nation, and even if Islamists control it - will lethality make things better? Somalian Women, children, in addition to men of all ages await war. They wield machine guns ready to die for their nation. They will obey the will of Allah, otherwise the Americans have won.
3) What would no war in Somalia mean?
Imagine that all sides backed off from war. Bin Laden would have nothing to rally around except "Nation Building" in Somalia - what we are supposed to be doing in Iraq. Eritrea and Ethiopia could focus on domestic needs instead of fighting a pointless and irrational proxy war. The United States could focus on real issues, rather than supporting lethality further. All other nations not directly involved, the most signifcant being Kenya, would have no refugees coming caused by a regional war.
I can't imagine why any American would think they could change the mind of another country by use of lethality. Did we end Communism through brute force? How about Socialism in Latin America?
If China becomes the next superpower, would we want them to act as we have - spreading authoritian regimes around the world? America has a reputation and legacy to rebuild. If we are to pass the torch of global power to another nation or region we must become create the standards we want them to abide by. We should start by supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ensuring the UN enforces them.