quinta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2007


Who Is IOZ? (blog) [Ora aqui estão comentários muito bem escritos sobre a Somália e Afeganistão]

1. Who Needs Enemies?

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 20 — Fierce mortar attacks killed at least 15 civilians in Somalia on Tuesday, and for a country that had seemed on the verge of ending 16 years of chaotic violence this is the new status quo. [...] It is hard to believe, but Somalia is actually becoming a more violent and chaotic place.

Middle: There was a burst of optimism beginning Dec. 28, when government troops, with Ethiopian firepower behind them, marched into Mogadishu and planted the hope that the anarchy was ending. [...] But what has happened in the past few weeks has killed that mood. A deadly insurgency has started, beginning with a few clans connected to the Islamists and now expanding to several more

[A]long came the Islamists, who during their six-month reign last year pacified the hornet’s nest of Mogadishu by persuading clans to voluntarily disarm their militias and persuading Somalis, most of whom are Sunni Muslims, to buy into their Islam-is-the-answer solution.

It's hard to avoid the impression that this story, reflecting a particular American narrative, carrying a particularly American "surprise," has in an important sense inverted causes and effects. It begins with "an internationally-supported [sic] transitional government" "steaming" into Mogadishu with "great expectations." (Whose?) The "great expectations" are odd, since the very next sentence concedes that "confidence in the government" was "never high."

If, in any event, it is "hard to believe" that Somalia is "becoming a more violent and chaotic place" following the "great expectations" of the "transitional government" that had just overthrown "the Islamist forces" ruling the country, then isn't the clear implication that the country under those forces was "violent and chaotic," and that its ouster was meant as a remedy to that situation?After all, there was "a burst of optimism" when the "government" backed by Ethiopia (and, of course, the American Air Force--but that's little mentioned) "marched into Mogadishu and planted the hope that the anarchy was ending." That dovetails nicely with "violence and chaos." Violent, chaotic, anarchic. So the "internationally supported transitional government," backed by "Ethiopian firepower," had come to stop the "violence," the "chaos," and the "anarchy," but had been foiled by a "violent insurgency," which has returned the country to pre-invasion days when bloody Islamists roamed the anarchy-ridden cityscapes and countrysides, killing at will.

Ah, not quite.

It turns out that the "Islamists" were able, in a mere six months, to "pacify" restive Mogadishu, presuade clans to "voluntarily disarm their militias," and convince most Somalis, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, to accept their legitimate authority. This after decades of "transitional" anarchy, warlordism, "chaos and violence," and anarchy.

Here we have an semi-official American newspaper propagandizing for a "War-on-Terror"-friendly position by intentionally obfuscating a series of events. It's clumsy and ineffectual, since it contains all the necessary self-refuting information, but there it is nevertheless. The "Islamists" are the enemy by grace of their name alone, although they evidently accomplished as much by compromise as by force of arms what America, the United Nations, the West, whomever, were collectively unable to accomplish for many, many blood-soaked years: calm.

This was unacceptable to America and our Ethopian proxies, however. So we smashed the calm, and now there is yet another state suffering through a grotesque "insurgency." America keeps puffing out its chest as a world-saver, while most of the world eyes us with increasing terror and thinks, "With friends like these . . ."

2. Get Off My Lawn

There may be military responses, but there are no solutions. The attacks of September 11, 2001--the apparrant casus belli for the Afghanistan invasion--were carried out by Saudis trained in mobile camps in a foreign country. That it occured in Afghanistan under a government that gave aid or shelter is really immaterial. There are any number of governments that would let any number of people do any number of things for the right kinds and amounts of kickbacks. The idea that deposing a government, bombing some encampments that--by video evidence at least--seem constructed entirely of canvas tents and jungle gyms, and propping up some marginally more friendly ethnic group as a new government serves materially to decrease either the capacity of non-state actors or to mitigate against their intentions is foolishness. And the inevitable outcome in Afghanistan, which we see clearly now, is that there will once again be internal strife until this or that group establishes dominance, or until several achieve equilibrium, and then everyone will go right on herding goats and growing poppy and firing off an occasional celebratory round or two on the old Kalishnikov. As it is, was, and ever shall be.

We will "lose" in Afghanistan because at some point--sooner rather than later on the timescale of an actually old civilization--we're going to pack up and go home. Perhaps, as certain liberals are now fond of suggesting for Iraq, we will "declare victory and withdraw." Perhaps we'll sort of slink off as the public attention further erodes. Who knows? Who cares? They have their millennia-old folkways and we have our omnibus budgets and patriotic parades and "obesity epidemics" and neverending Presidential election cycles and "severe weather teams" and "people of faith" and petty rivalries with the social-democratic states of continental Europe.

If the goal was "smashing the Taliban and al Qaeda," then it was as foolish as fighting a pond by throwing rocks at it. If the goal was the nobler, more sentimental line of "Democracy, Now!" then it was even more foolish. Here's one reason. Why it is so difficult to appreciate our own social systems and systems of governance as cultural artifacts, specific to our history and economy, tied up in particular cultural premises, produced through a long accrual of peculiar conditions and philosophical developments, is entirely beyond me. I like individualism; I like markets; I like limited government. These, to me, are all quite excellent ideas. But I don't delude myself by presuming them the steady-state, universal condition of liberated Man.Our problems are products of our solutions. America, you must change your life.

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