December 3, 2008

HARRISONBURG—Today in his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review, Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, warns that “the rapid pace of developments in the long-conflicted Horn of Africa may well present a crisis for American policy before President George W. Bush vacates the Oval Office” and calls for a shift in the Unites States approach towards Somalia.

According to Dr. Pham, up to now U.S. Somalia policy “has continued to be almost entirely premised on a series of unrealistic assumptions” which have crumbled entirely in recent weeks. These include: that the Ethiopian intervention was sustainable; that “the largely notional “Transitional Federal Government” (TFG) led by “President” Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed would manage to not only prove itself a legitimate political actor among the Somali, but to somehow establish its write over a significant enough section of the former national territory so as to be an effective authority”; and the “desperate hope” that so-called moderate Islamist leaders could bring the insurgency under control.

Since “the collapse of these three conditions, any hope of restoring a unitary Somali state has likewise faded even further,” Dr. Pham argues that “the international community should seek to engage traditional leaders and civil society actors at the local level, many of whom both enjoy legitimacy with the populace and whose localized security and economic development agendas complement the outside world’s goal of preventing chaos from reigning in Somali territory.”

To read the full text of the article, “ Somalia: The Times They Are A-Changin’,” click here.