Wednesday, April 02, 2008
I haven’t been able to devote as much time or effort to Somalia as it has deserved, but fortunately Chris Floyd has been doing exceptional work on the continuing story of American-sponsored murder and mayhem there.
Here’s the latest from Chris, with some additional notes and a few extra photos from your chilly host.
To be sure, reporter Jeffrey Gettleman glosses over the larger context and immediate causes of Somalia’s deterioration into foreign occupation, brutal civil war and the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The deep and bloody American involvement is only lightly glanced at; there is no mention of the deadly U.S. bombing raids on civilians that accompanied the invasion by Ethiopia (and no mention of the American role in arming, training and funding the armies of the tyrannical regime); no mention of the U.S. death squads sent in to “kill anyone still alive” after bombing strikes; no mention of American security apparatchiks “renditioning” fleeing refugees, including American citizens, to Ethiopia’s notorious dungeons; no mention that most of these atrocities took place under the command of the recently-fired and now-saintly Admiral William Fallon, who directed all three of the Terror War’s overt wars – in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia – until he was fired by Bush last month, presumably for insufficient enthusiasm about a fourth regime change op — in Iran.
Still, these lapses aside, the NYT story is an important piece. It goes further than almost any other previous mainstream story in putting across some measure of the horrific reality in Somalia to a wider audience. And to be fair, Gettleman does mention, briefly, some context that is almost always omitted in corporate media reports: such as the fact that the “transitional government” installed by Bush and the Ethopian dictator Meles Zenawi is rife with warlords, some of them on the CIA’s payroll.
However, this whisper of truth buried deep in the story is undercut by the large whopper Gettleman purveys near the top: the claim that the transitional government “was widely hailed as the best chance in years to end Somalia’s ceaseless cycles of war and suffering.” Only in the imperial courts of America’s political-media class would the imposition of a gaggle of walords and CIA tools, put in place by the brutal invasion of a despised foreign enemy, be seen as a way to end war and suffering. Then again, this is precisely the same idiocy that imperial courtiers – led by the New York Times – advocated for Iraq.
Gettleman — once an eager cheerleader for the murderous Somalia caper — doesn’t make that connection, of course, but he does find a “respectable” source to say what most sentient beings looking at Somalia have been saying since the Terror War operation began: that Bush and Zenawi have turned Somalia – which had known its first measure of peace and stability in many years under the alliance of Islamic groups ousted by the invasion – into a replica of the Bush-made hell in Iraq. Of course, the dissenting figure is a Democrat – Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey – so the criticism can be safely portrayed as a “partisan attack,” maintaining the sacred “balance” of mainstream journalism. But Payne’s observation, whether motivated by partisanship or not, is simply a description of the objective truth: “We’re Baghdad-izing Mogadishu and Somalia. We’re making people feel wrongly treated and pushing them toward more radical positions.”
This indeed is the crux of the matter. Just as in Iraq, the invasion, occupation, repression, corruption and brutality unleashed upon Somalia have radicalized many people and empowered the more extreme factions in the Islamic alliance. As in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Terror War is breeding more terrorists. In fact, this dynamic is so obvious that a cynic could almost believe that this is the actual aim of the Terror War: to generate “ceaseless cycles of war and suffering” – with the war-profiteering loot and enhanced state power that inevitably follow.
The suffering of the Somali people plays no part in these machinations of the great geopolitical game, of course. Why should it? Bush and the American political class have already killed a million Iraqis and driven four million from their homes, with the whole world watching; they are certainly not going to wring their hands over dead and despoiled nobodies in a land the world abandoned long ago.
Excerpts from Somalia’s Government Teeters on Collapse (NYT):
In recent weeks, the Islamists have routed warlords and militiamen who have been absorbed into the government forces but are undermining what little progress transitional leaders have made with their predatory tactics, like stealing food. After 17 years of civil war, Somalia’s violence seems to be driven not so much by clan hatred, ideology or religiosity, but by something much simpler: survival.
“We haven’t been paid in eight months,” said a government soldier named Hassan, who said he could not reveal his last name. “We rob people so we can eat.”
Nur Hassan Hussein, the prime minister, does not deny that government troops rob civilians. “This is the biggest problem we have,” he said in an interview this month.
But, he said, he does not have the money to pay them. Each month, more than half of government’s revenue, mostly from port taxes, disappears — stolen by “our people,” the prime minister said.
That leaves Mr. Nur with about $18 million a year to run a failed state of nine million of some of the world’s neediest, most collectively traumatized people….Aid organizations say that more than half of Mogadishu’s estimated one million people are on the run.
War, drought, displacement, high food prices and the exodus of aid workers, many of the elements that lined up in the early 1990s to create a famine, are lining up again. The United Nations World Food Program said on Thursday, in a warning titled “Somalia Sinking Deeper Into Abyss of Suffering,” that the country was the most dangerous in the world for aid workers.
Most Somalis do not argue with that. They say Mogadishu is more capriciously violent than it has ever been, with roadside bombs, militias shelling one another across neighborhoods, doctors getting shot in the head and 10-year-olds hurling grenades….
In the rat-tat-tat of nightly machine-gun fire, people are beginning to hear the government’s death knell. Many residents have mixed feelings about this. They contend that the government has enabled warlords. They say, almost without exception, that things were better under the Islamists. But they fear what lies ahead…
Government officials say much of the resistance is simply spoilers who are deeply invested in the status quo of chaos, like gun runners, counterfeiters and importers of expired baby formula.
But some of the men believed to be the biggest spoilers are part of the government. To get clan support and — just as crucially — more militiamen, transitional leaders have cut deals with warlords like Mohammed Dheere, now Mogadishu’s mayor, and Abdi Qeybdid, now the police chief. These are the same men whom the C.I.A. paid in 2006 to fight the Islamists, a strategy that backfired because the population turned against them, mostly because of their legacy of terrorizing civilians.
Hassan, the government soldier, said he had been in one of these warlord militias since he was 8. He cannot read or write. He has thin wrists, a delicate face, empty eyes and a wife and two children to feed, which is why he said he routinely robs people. “We are losing,” he said.
He said many of his friends were defecting to the Islamists because that was the only way to survive.
As Chris wrote last spring — too long ago! …
I want to reiterate a point that I have made over and over here: This war in Somalia, this carnage, this mass death, this brutality, this vast suffering is the direct result of the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror.” For all you Americans out there, this is our war, just as much as Afghanistan and Iraq are. It’s being done in our name, with our money, at the instigation of our leaders. The American Establishment and the American media are almost totally ignoring this on-going horror story — and downplaying the Bush gang’s central role in it whenever it does get a mention — but be assured: just because American citizens have been left in the usual amnesiac fog by their leaders, the victims of the invasion, and those watching it from outside the American media bubble — especially in the Muslim world — know full well whose war it really is. Once again, the brutal policies of loot and domination are preparing a terrible blowback for us; even now, you can see the thunderclouds gathering on the horizon.
The rising thunderclouds play into the hands of the Terror Warriors, who want nothing more than a storm of Islamic extremism to “justify” their “response” to the acts of bogus terror that kicked off the bogus war. It’s as dramatic a reality-reversal as you could ever hope not to see. But we’re seeing it already, and it will only get worse.
In other words, we started out fighting “terrorists of global reach”, or the Taliban, or Afghanistan, or Islam, or Islamists, or the rest of the world, or something, because of the alleged “act of war” that was “declared against the United States” on September 11, 2001.
Never mind that the official story of 9/11 and all its official variants have been packs of lies. The “news” media were never going to expose the fiction — not after 50 years of being secretly groomed to produce fiction — and a huge propaganda army could be mobilized against anyone who dared to raise any questions.
So even though the truth about 9/11 couldn’t be hidden forever, it could be hidden for quite a while in the United States of Propaganda — where for generations the citizens had been conditioned to reject any hint of serious wrongdoing by their government.
And in the meantime — while that truth was sinking in — the US and her “coalition” of “allies” would have committed countless atrocities against countless innocent people, creating countless new enemies all over the world; these people would themselves be called “terrorists”, and eventually the bogus war would have “legitimized” itself.
And then we would be in an actual war against actual terrorists, none of whom had any reason to wish us harm before the beginning of the war that we started, supposedly in order to “root them out”!
Some in the blogosphere have mentioned the media’s near-refusal to touch the slaughter in Somalia, and as Chris Floyd points out, the only coverage it receives in the mainstream is highly sanitized. If I’m reading this correctly, the reason for this is because there is no “reason” for the US to attack Somalia.
In other words, we bombed and invaded Afghanistan “because of 9/11” — a fiction that has flown so well it hasn’t yet needed to be revised.
Then we bombed and invaded Iraq “because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”, but that turned out to be fiction too — and it didn’t fly quite so well. So then we changed our story and suddenly we had bombed and invaded Iraq “because Saddam Hussein had connections with Osama bin Laden” and it turned out that this story was fiction too, so now we’ve decided that we bombed and invaded Iraq “to bring democracy to the Middle East”, or whatever the story of the day might be tomorrow.
But when it comes to Somalia, there is no reason, fictional or otherwise. There were no claims that Somalia had weapons of mass destruction, no claims of connections to 9/11, no claims that the Somalis were trying to build a nuclear bomb or wipe Israel off the map — and no media campaign to catapult the no propaganda. Just nothing.
So the American people are not familiar with even one slightly-plausible reason why our armed forces and their Ethiopian proxies should be slaughtering innocent people in Somalia, other than reasons our “news” providers won’t talk about, such as “energy” and “empire” (not to mention “ego” and “evil”).
Our “news” media have been trained to produce fiction revolving around the notion that whatever America does overseas is “right”; and in this case there’s no possible argument to be made in favor of our intervention in Somalia; therefore they have no choice but to avert their eyes and pretend it isn’t happening.
Thus the war in Somalia — just like many of America’s clandestine operations over the years — is a “secret” to most Americans. But it’s not clandestine. It’s just a secret.
In former days, when the CIA old-timers were staging a regime-change operation, they took pains to make sure nobody found out. They were afraid of the media. Now their successors don’t have to be so careful, because they control the media, and they know nobody’s gonna make a peep.
Unless I’m mistaken, we have never seen anything quite like this. Somalia may be the template for open secret warfare — and if so, it’s working out very well, at least in the sense that the bulk of the media are showing they can keep a secret.
What it means, unless I am very wrong, is that we can expect more of the same to start happening elsewhere. And we won’t hear anything about it on the “news”.