NELSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR’S COLUMN SAYS LESSONS OF SOMALIA CAN SAVE WAR ON TERRORISM

January 18, 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, while noting that the task of establishing an effective framework for securing and governing Somalia once the current offensive will require time, observes that “recent developments in Somalia may prove to be salutary reminders which save America’s war on terrorism.”

According to Dr. Pham: “First…the broad principles of the Bush Doctrine stand vindicated by the Ethiopian intervention in Somalia…Faced with the extremist enemy with a history of terrorist acts against it setting up a haven that was attracting all manner of foreign militants as well as the unwillingness of the international community to deal effectively with the growing threat even as the Islamists aggressively consolidated their rogue proto-state, the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi refused to have its hands tied… Second, it can only be hoped that the explicit entry of U.S. forces, however slightly, into the fray represents a recognition that terrorists cannot be allowed to escape to fight another day… Third, while neither Ethiopia’s increasingly autocratic Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Kenya’s scandal plagued President Mwai Kibaki are going to win any prizes as model democrats, their tacit cooperation these past few weeks with each other as well as with the U.S. has produced an effective counterterrorism campaign beyond anything delivered by America’s much-feted ‘allies’ like Afghanistan’s pathetic President Hamid Karzai and Iraq’s even lamer Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki…Finally, although the political vacuum created by the collapse of the Siad Barre dictatorship and the ignominious retreat of the U.S.-led United Nations peacekeeping force in the early 1990s contributed to the rise of the Islamists in Somalia—just like the defeat of the Soviet Union and the disengagement of the international community allowed the Taliban to dominate Afghanistan—it does not follow that the remedy is necessarily the reconstitution of a unitary state, especially when it is neither clear that the interested local parties desire that outcome nor that it would be in the interests of regional stability.”

To read Dr. Pham’s article, “Somalia May Save the War on Terrorism,” click here.