January 4, 2007

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, noting the hasty retreat of the militants of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union (ICU) in the face of an unexpectedly heavy offensive by Ethiopian air and land forces, recalls another swift victory, the U.S.-led coalition’s rout of the forces of the late (and unlamented) Saddam Hussein in Iraq nearly four years ago. From the latter experience he derives “three general conclusions concerning the road ahead if the momentum of the current military campaign in Somalia is to be sustained and the narrow window of opportunity which it opens to be seized upon.”

According to Dr. Pham: “First, no matter how stunningly well-executed a conventional military campaign, it is not victory unless it is complete and perceived to be so by those against whom it is targeted… Second, assuming that the military victory is consolidated, the real work begins…The international community must reengage to help facilitate the development of a state lest the current defeat of the Islamists be a mere interval before more disorder spreads out from the vacuum… Third, military victory and sustained commitment are still insufficient for a true policy success unless they are both grounded in the realities of the situation.” Under the final heading, the article argues that the Republic of Somaliland should be accorded recognition of its de facto statehood, the semi-autonomous region of Puntland should be allowed to continue along the path of development its people have chosen, and the status of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia—which, once more, the recent crisis showed to be utterly ineffective and lacking in popular legitimacy—should be revisited.

To read Dr. Pham’s article, “Sweeping Up in Somalia,” click here.