Lessons from Somalia for Iraq
The people of Somalia, who were on the verge of having Islamic law enforced upon them, are rejoicing in the streets following an invasion by neighboring Ethiopia that has put the country back in the hands of its rightful government.
There’s a lesson for Americans and other free people throughout the world in this victory of righteous force.
The Ethiopians attempted to deal with cross-border attacks by Islamists through diplomatic means. That process failed.
The Ethiopian government realized it could only secure its own security by defeating the enemy in Somalia and, in the process, freeing their neighbors from oppression. That process worked.
History shows this is not the exception, but the rule. Yet, many Americans, including our leaders in Washington, have not accepted the simple notion that military force is often the only way to secure freedom, peace and security when they are threatened by enemies who seek to impose their rule on others.
That is still the situation we face in Iraq, for example.
We will never free the people of Iraq or gain our own security from the enemies by talking to intransigent foes who only seek our destruction.
Not surprisingly, the United Nations objected to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia and sought to halt its victory. Thank God the Ethiopians did not listen to the international busybodies in New York. Instead, they guarded their own national self-interest, which, in this case, coincided with the national self-interest of Somalia and people everywhere who seek freedom from the curse of Islamism.
Make no mistake about this: The victory of Ethiopia in Somalia was a victory for freedomloving people the world over.
Think back to President Clinton’s attempt to bring civil rule to Somalia during the 1990s. The United States dispatched a limited military force with limited objectives. The result was the slaughter of Army Rangers in the famous “Black Hawk Down” incident. Mr. Clinton called a hasty retreat and Somalia continued to crumble to Islamist control to the point it became a threat to its neighbors.
The United States was humiliated by this defeat — a victory orchestrated by none other than Osama bin Laden, who was so encouraged by America’s willingness to quit that he stepped up plans for a mega-attack on our country.
That’s right. Sept. 11, 2001, was made almost inevitable by America’s cut-and-run decision in Somalia.
Now, al-Qaida is calling on its terrorist fighters to travel to Somalia to take up arms against Ethiopia and the Somalia government forces. There may, in- deed, be a protracted guerrilla war as Islamists go underground, much as they have in Iraq.
But total victory seldom comes easily. It seldom comes without sacrifice. Americans, in particular, seem to have forgotten the tremendous sacrifices our forefathers made to secure our freedom. Yet, freedom, real peace and security are worth the effort, worth the fight and worth the sacrifice. What’s the lesson for us? We can still win the war in Iraq. But it will require a return to the tactics that led to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government and the U.S.-led occupation. We must unshackle our military and destroy the enemy. It’s just that simple. Anything short of that victory will spell defeat for the United States and freedom-loving people resisting the worldwide Islamist terror campaign.
If the army of Ethiopia can defeat the same kind of Islamist terrorists we fight in Iraq, is there any doubt U.S. military forces can still accomplish the mission?
All it takes is determination and the willingness to allow the military to do what it is trained to do — kill the enemy, defeat the enemy and destroy the enemy.
Joseph Farah is a nationally syndicated columnist.