Monday, November 23, 2009

Somalia and the Death of Responsibility To Protect

So Spain is now offering to lead an EU defense mission to Somalia to protect lives and restore order, prop up the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and fight piracy. The Spanish will also propose an EU conference to "support the Somali peace process and stabilization in that country."

Just a couple of red flags here...

1. What peace process? The TFG is basically one group of tribes, warlords and businessmen allied against another group of tribes, warlords and businessmen that is vastly more powerful. It's an Ethiopia/Uganda-backed proxy government that controls a few blocks of the capital, while the rest of the country is either in chaos or controlled by Eritrea-backed al Shabab and various insurgent groups. (To wit, Uganda, which is on the Security Council, just circulated a draft resolution trying to severely sanction Eritrea for daring to prop up its own allies in the proxy war. Convenient, that.)

2. Every previous Somalia intervention in the past 2 decades has not only failed but backfired and made things worse. The UN is increasingly targeted militarily precisely because it takes part in things like this. And now Spain wants the EU to get involved? Check out this terrific article in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs on how Washington's Somalia strategy is completely wrong-headed and has been for years.

The real problem in Somalia is not a lack of Western intervention, but too much intervention from all concerned. Anyone who wants to throw down a $10 bet on an EU mission accomplishing jacksquat in the Horn of Africa in the next 5 years, please send your money to me. There's a recession on and I could use it.

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