Piracy is a growing problem along Somalia's long coastline, slowing efforts to feed as many as 2 million Somalis left hungry by severe drought, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday.Warlords. pirates and desparation. Not a good combination. Some of this mess lies at the feet of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, who managed to make the idea ofa humanitarian intervention in the area by the major powers unlikely, thereby possibly condemning hundreds of thousands to death, disease and despair. See here for some background, and this advice which argues against "nation-building:"
Due to the threat of pirate raids on food shipped by boat, the World Food Program has had to move some aid overland to southern Somalia through Kenya for the first time in five years, Annan said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.
U.N. officials estimate that 1.5 million to 2 million people are in need of food in the northeast African nation, one of 11 countries in the region hit hard by prolonged drought.
The situation is so dire there that some Somali children are drinking their own urine, international aid group Oxfam reported this month.
Keep the focus on fighting al-Qaeda and avoid mission creep. Washington must remain tightly focused on battling al-Qaeda, whose far-flung network already has required U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Georgia. U.S. military forces, already spread thin, must prepare for the contingency that al-Qaeda forces seek sanctuary in Iraq or are not expelled from Iran in a timely manner. The United States cannot afford to commit substantial military forces to action in Somalia unless there is solid evidence that al-Qaeda has moved its leadership or major portions of its operations there.
Faced with the prospect of a looming confrontation with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction--the ultimate terrorist weapon--the Defense Department cannot risk getting bogged down in operations against AIAI absent a growing al-Qaeda threat in Somalia. The United States should try to contain and defeat AIAI by giving diplomatic, economic, and intelligence support to Somali factions that oppose it and to Ethiopia and Kenya, which it also threatens. But the United States should reserve the use of military force for cases in which vital national interests are at stake. Those interests are not at stake in Somalia unless al-Qaeda greatly increases its lethal activities there.
Washington cannot repeat the mistake of getting involved in nation-building in Somalia, this time under the guise of fighting terrorism. America's experience in Lebanon, Somalia, and the Balkans demonstrates that nation-building efforts often draw U.S. forces into internal power struggles that actually create incentives and targets for terrorism. 30 U.S. soldiers should be employed to capture or kill terrorists, not to function as social workers.