Thursday, March 22, 2007



First I’d like to thank all those who have written to me with comments and opinions and to ask why I don’t write more often…well for me writing isn’t a job it’s a passion and I only put my thoughts to paper when I feel I’ve got something to say so I’m sorry for the long interlude.

As I was reading this morning about ongoing violence in Somalia I was thinking about the great voices of reason who loudly proclaimed that the time for peace and dialogue had come shortly after the Ethiopian Army had routed the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) and had them bottled up on the border with Kenya. In fact it was those rational voices that screamed even loader when the US took the opportunity to try and pick off some of the UIC leadership which had been Al-Qaeda trained and inspired. Under pressure the Ethiopians backed off to allow the UN to mandate an AU force which only a couple of AU countries could provide troops to and only after a few months. The UIC’s core leadership and fighters slipped away while we discussed how once and for all fix Somalia.

Seemingly without ever looking at the African history of warfare these liberal voices of reason urged all parties to talk, to allow reconciliation and most foolishly to allow the UIC to have a voice in the future of the country. These well meaning people continuously get involved loudly proclaiming their fears of civilian casualties, concerns for the ability of NGO’s to operate freely and for the necessity of dialogue so soon after conflict. Not only has this never worked in Africa it has never worked anywhere. We didn’t sit down after WW II and engage the Nazi party in dialogue to see how they could be part of the solution no in fact we had military tribunals and we hanged or imprisoned the majority of their leaders, in fact we took special pride in really going after the SS for their horrific form of warfare.

Now there is something to be said for going to far after a victory and the Versailles treaty might be a modern example of making the loser pay to dearly. Although many military historians also argue that had the Versailles treaty been enforced German would not have been allowed to regain its military strength and that in fact it was the voices of reconciliation in the late 20’s that allowed the equipping of the German military with banned arms such as tanks then famously used in Poland. It’s hard to say either way but from a historical perspective it’s obvious that the world got tired of enforcing the treaty and simply ignored Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and his rhetoric which clearly outlined his intentions.

I would also point out that since the UN was created we have seen a string of conflicts ended prematurely without a true victor thus ensuring continuing and ongoing conflict as we see today in Somalia. When will we learn that the only way (historically speaking) to end a conflict for a significant period of time is to allow one side to defeat the other, either through a victory or when one of the combatants unconditionally surrenders.

Whether we’re talking about the longest ceasefire in history in Korea or the numerous peace treaties signed in the DRC it’s obvious that conflict only takes a break when a peace treaty or cease fire is negotiated by an outside entity be it the UN or a third party nation. While Somalia may be the most recent example of this failed vision Sudan (the Darfur region) is not far behind. How many peace deals will be broken in the Sudan before we wake up to the fact that the only way the rebel movement will stop is to be defeated on the battlefield while the only way the Khartoum government will stop abusing it citizens is if it is not only defeated and overthrown but if it is held to account after the fact and that all it’s former members are killed or imprisoned for their genocidal actions, there can be no talk of reconciliation or inclusion if you truly want this to end.

Now I’m sure if somebody is reading this and disagreeing they’ll be looking for a great example of where reconciliation worked. Most will hold out South Africa and their efforts to not simply punish their former white masters but to have a Truth commission and then learn from the past…prove to the whites that they are morally not going to sink to the level of the Apartheid governments policy of arresting all dissenters. Initially it appeared to be a great success however 10 yrs on the wealth and dreams of integration is rapidly slipping away as South Africa regresses into a state where crime is rampant, the poor are more destitute and the government is still unqualified and unprepared to govern. While South Africa has not slipped into conflict and hopefully never will its attempts at public reconciliation have fallen short of the successful model the world has led to believe exists today.

Back to the point…Somalia is about to become a mess again and once again the Western World is foolishly hoping the African Union can save the day, I guess that’s because they’ve never actually seen the AU in action and think that an AU solider is the same as a British, Canadian or American soldier when in fact they AU solider is more often nothing more than a better dressed version of the rebel force he is sent to defeat. The AU has no command and control capability, no logistical support capability, little maneuver capability and certainly no common tactical or strategic vision. When faced with a real US trained Army the UIC melted away and was defeated in weeks, now faced with turmoil, weakness and the AU they are making a big comeback. The voices of reconciliation and discussion once again spoke to early and allowed the UIC to continue to fight another day which means AU soldiers and Somali citizens will continue to die and mayhem will continue to rule Somalia for many years to come. When will we learn?