|Written by Chris Floyd|
|Monday, 21 April 2008|
| I know no one cares about Somalia, because every time I write about it on the website, the traffic drops like a stone. (Let’s see if that headline draws a few eyeballs, though. If it works, we might just rename the whole damn blog.) But I don’t care if no one cares. There is a continuous slaughter and ravaging of innocent human beings going on in Somalia, a vast atrocity that is sponsored, funded, greenlighted and directly aided by the United States government, and I’m going to keep on writing about it.
This third Terror War campaign of “regime change” by the American military machine has already spawned what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and every day leaves more civilian bodies rotting in the streets, and more fleeing families stranded in the middle of nowhere, with nothing. At every step of the way, the Bush Administration has assisted its proxy force of Ethiopian invaders and CIA-paid warlords, by rocketing villages, killing goatherds, capturing refugees and “renditioning” them to Ethiopian torture chambers, and even sending in openly avowed “death squads” to “kill anyone left alive” after bombing strikes. At every step of the way, the Bush Administration has conducted and assisted operations that Americans once would have considered the stuff of old-movie Nazis, twirling their waxed Prussian moustaches as they send a young mother off to a concentration camp, or order artillery barrages on residential areas, or dispatch death squads to pump bullets into the heads of human beings left twitching, burned and bloodied after a sneak attack by Stukas.
Oh, I know none of this is nearly as important as working up a mighty “blogswarm” against ABC because some witless TV talking heads aimed some witless questions at politicians on the make who have been spouting witless bumpersticker platitudes all over the country for months on end. I know I should be out on the street in protest, sticking it to The Man with some really ironic placards or something. Because after all, the only thing that matters in this election — where the American proxy war in Somalia has not been mentioned at all, and where all the candidates earnestly pledge to conduct the global War of Terror with even more ruthless efficiency than the “incompetent” Bush — is what a few Beltway insiders say to each other on the Tee-Vee.
But surely, in the big and glorious tent of the blogosphere, there is room for a minor story or two about a little American-backed mass murder in one of those funny little countries across the ocean, right? Like this AP story featured — that is to say, buried — in the New York Times on Monday: “81 Die in Clashes Between Islamists and Troops in Somalia.“
You will note the NYT’s clever headline, which completely distorts the plain facts reported in the second paragraph of the AP story:
The deaths were caused when Ethiopians fired heavy artillery and tank shells in residential areas of Mogadishu, said the rights leader, Sudan Ali Ahmed, chairman of Elman Human Rights. “We condemn this latest fighting,” he said. Besides the 81 people who were killed, 119 were wounded, he said. His group said that all of those killed were civilians.
Yet let’s be fair to the old Gray Lady. It’s not just the headline; the AP story itself is riddled with verbal sleight-of-hand to keep the reader from learning the reality behind the “objective” report. For example, directly after quoting Ahmed, the human rights leader, by name, AP goes on to provide some mitigating spin from anonymous “witnesses” who “said that because the insurgents wear civilian clothing, it was impossible to say how many of the dead were noncombatants.”
Who were these witnesses? Are they more credible than Ahmed, whose group has condemned the atrocities on all sides, earning the enmity of every armed group in the country? Was Ahmed lying?
What if there were “Islamist fighters” among the dozens of dead? Does that mitigate the crime of firing heavy artillery and tank shells into residential areas? Was it OK for the Nazis to, say, bombard a French neighborhood to ruins, as long as there were a few Resistance fighters wearing civilian clothes in the area?
There were a few more witnesses willing to be named in the story. Let’s see what they had to say:
A witness, Aden Shire, said the Ethiopians had seemed to be searching for the bodies of fellow soldiers killed Saturday. Another witness, Omar Abdulahi, said that among the dead he counted were two old men in their homes who had been shot by Ethiopian soldiers.
A woman, Nasteho Moalim, said her 7-year-old daughter and three neighbors had been killed, and her husband wounded, by tank shells that hit their homes.
On the government’s side, at least one Somali soldier and two Ethiopians were killed, said another witness, Asha Shegow Abikar.
But in the end, what does it matter? Anyone killed in one of our righteous “regime changes” had it coming one way or another, right? The story goes on to retail the same kind of amorphous demonization we have seen of every single person in the Terror War (and its conjoint operations) who does not openly and avidly collaborate with an occupying force. In its very brief background graf on the conflict — which naturally omits any mention at all of American involvement — AP tells us that:
Ethiopian troops supporting the transitional government’s soldiers ousted Islamist fighters from power in Mogadishu, the capital, in December 2006.
And thus any Somali who now opposes the Ethiopian occupation is automatically an “Islamist fighter” or an “insurgent” or, inevitably, a “terrorist.” Just as every Palestinian in Gaza is part of Hamas, and every Iraqi not actively working for the Bush-backed government is a “Mahdi Army fighter” or an “insurgent” or, inevitably, “al Qaeda” — and thus fair game for a drone missile attack launched by some goober eating Hot Pockets at his computer terminal in Nevada. The killing of anyone slapped with these labels is considered “justified” by the Bush Regime, and by the American press. Even the murder of innocent people who happen to be in vague proximity to someone assigned one of these ever-expanding labels is considered a “regrettable” but necessary bit of “collateral damage.”
And so the slaughter goes on in Somalia. If you are an American, it has your name on it. If you are a Democrat, neither of your presidential candidates gives a damn about it. (It goes without saying that Bush-hugger John McCain doesn’t give a damn.) But hey, that’s all right; the main thing is that George Stephanopoulos probably feels a bit sheepish right now. I’m sure that will make Nasteho Moalim feel a whole lot better as she buries her seven-year-old daughter.