Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Horn of Africa: Now it makes sense

Devotees of your blogstress will recall her puzzlement over President Bush's reference, in a commencement address last week at the Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi, to a soldier who was killed "fighting terrorism" over "the Horn of Africa."

Today comes word, thanks to the work of Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post Foreign Service, that the U.S. is backing warlords in Somalia's civil war, ostensibly to prevent al Qaeda from taking root there:

Africa researchers said they were concerned that while the Bush administration was focused on the potential terrorist threat, little was being done to support economic development initiatives that could provide alternative livelihoods to picking up a gun or following extremist ideologies in Somalia. Somalia watchers and Somalis themselves said there has not been enough substantial backing for building a new government after 15 years of collapsed statehood.

"If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?" [Ted] Dagne [the leading Africa analyst for the Congressional Research Service] said. "We have a generation of Somali kids growing up without education and only knowing violence and poverty. Unless there is a change, these could become the next warlords out of necessity for survival. That's perhaps the greatest threat we have yet to address."
Lost on the Bushies is the lesson of Afghanistan, and how al Qaeda came to take root there: the U.S. backed warlords in the Afghans' fight against the Soviet Union. Then the land of the free did nothing to help feed or educate the Afghans, who were left hungry amid a pile of rubble, with only U.S. weapons to sustain them.

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