There is apparently no path blazed by George W. Bush that Barack Obama will not eagerly follow. Surges, assassinations, indefinite detention, defense of torture, senseless wars and rampant militarism -- in just a few short months, we've seen it all.
To this dismaying record of complicity and continuity, we can add an increasing direct involvement in the horrific, hydra-headed conflict in Somalia, whose latest round of fiery hell was instigated by the American-backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia in late 2006. Under Bush, U.S. forces were deeply and directly enmeshed in the murderous action, dropping bombs on fleeing refugees, "renditioning" other refugees to the tender mercies of Ethiopia's notorious prisons, and even sending in death squads to clean up after missile strikes and bombings. (For background, see "Silent Surge: Bipartisan Terror War Intensifies in Somalia.")
The result of that intervention has been the deaths of thousands of innocent people, the displacement and ruination of hundreds of thousands, and the creation of what many experts call the most dire humanitarian crisis in the world today. It has also resulted in the empowerment of violent sectarian groups and criminal gangs, who have stepped forth to fill the gaps of the fledgling state that the American-Ethiopian "regime change" operation destroyed.
So what do we see from the administration of "hope and change"? We see -- wait for it -- a new "surge" of direct American involvement in the war, with Obama's most ferocious war hawk -- sorry, his top diplomat -- Hillary "The Obliterator" Clinton leading the charge. As Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com reports, Clinton has pledged to double the recently announced supply of American weapons to Somalia's "transitional government" -- a weak reed cobbled together by Western interests from various CIA-paid warlords and other factions, and now headed, ironically, by the former leader of the aforementioned fledgling state overthrown by Washington. (Yes, it is hard to tell the players without a scorecard -- or even with one. But if you follow the weapons and the money, you can usually tell who is temporarily on which side at any given moment.)
Clinton, bellicose as ever, accompanied the shipment of 80 tons of death-dealing hardware with a heavy dose of the wild fearmongering rhetoric we've come to know so well in this New American Century. As AP reports, she declared that the radical faction al-Shabab, now leading the insurgency against the transitional government, has only one goal in mind: bring in al Qaeda and destabilizing the whole entire world.
Yes, dear hearts, once again the survival of the planet -- not to mention the sacred American way of life -- is under imminent threat from a gang of evil maniacs; a threat requiring the urgent enrichment of the U.S. arms industry -- sorry, I mean the urgent intervention of American know-how. For as the history of American foreign policy in the last 60 years has clearly shown us, there has never been an internal conflict in any country of the world that was not actually, deep down, a direct threat to all the sweet American babies sleeping in their cribs.
The interim Somali president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed -- an Islamist who only a few years ago was considered by Washington as, well, an evil maniac in league with al Qaeda -- agreed with Clinton, saying that al-Shabab aims to "make Somalia a ground to destabilize the whole world." This would be the same al-Shabab that Ahmed has spent most of his presidency trying to negotiate a power-sharing agreement with. (Where's that scorecard again?)
As usual, the AP story buries some of the most blazing, salient facts way down in the uncritical regurgitation of official rhetoric. But credit where it's due, the story does finally note that the new American assistance is not confined to stuff that can kill more Somalis; it also includes - wait for it again -- U.S. military "advisors" to help "train" the forces of the ever-collapsing transitional government.
Clinton also shook a sword at neighboring Eritrea, accusing it of supporting al-Shabab and "interfering" in Somalia's internal affairs. This, while she was announcing the delivery of 80 tons of American weapons to be poured into Somalia's internal affairs. This line is of course just an echo of the continual Bush-Obama warnings against "foreigners" interfering in Iraq. The gall of these gilded poltroons -- denouncing foreign interference while standing on mountains of corpses produced by the endless American "interference" in other countries -- is truly sublime. Clinton said that if Eritrea doesn't start toeing the imperial line, "we intend to take actions." (All you future Gold Star mothers and war widows out there better get out your atlases: your loved ones could soon be dying in yet another part of the world you never heard of.)
What will be the effect of this new "humanitarian intervention" of weapons and advisers? Same as it ever was: more death, more ruin, more suffering, more extremism, more hatred, more sorrow -- and more money for the war profiteers. That is the point, isn't it?
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on August 6, 2009.