Why Not Send 30,000 Troops to Somalia?

Spencer focused on a really important part of the Afghanistan debate today–the struggle the Administration is having to claim that al Qaeda and its affiliates in Af-Pak pose a direct threat to the US.

“Syndicate of terror” was how Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described the relationship between al-Qaeda and the various insurgent and terrorist networks across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a position eagerly endorsed by her colleagues Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen. Anticipating the argument that the syndicate does not substantially threaten the United States at home, Clinton said that “at the head of the table,” like a “Mafia family,” sat al-Qaeda. And that means, she continued during her testimony today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that al-Qaeda retains a capability to export terrorism to “Yemen, Somalia or, indeed, Denver” that is “unmatched” — a reference to the recently arrested Najibullah Zazi. Zazi’s case, which has yet to go to trial, shows a plot that traces “back to al-Qaeda-originated training camps and [a] training program” in Pakistan.

This is going to be one of the most controversial and disputed elements of the Obama administration’s strategy: the scope of the threat and the directness of the links between al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas; its strategic depth through the “syndicate” on each side of the Afghanistan and Pakistan border; and that syndicate’s capabilities to export destruction.


I am told by senior administration officials that the autumn Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy was informed by 30 intelligence products, many of which were directly produced for the review, and several of which focused on the question of al-Qaeda’s global reach from the Pakistani tribal areas. I’m also told that the military is increasingly looking at the nexus between al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and a rising extremist ally, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. But the link between that nexus and its present capability to reach the United States at home, to put it as neutrally as I can, has not been publicly demonstrated, and requires much further and deeper exposition — and, frankly, proof — than the administration has provided.

Now, Spencer is focusing on whether Najibullah Zazi will end up having been directly tied to Afghanistan or Pakistan. That’s the case Hillary was making. But it’s not clear the case is as strong as she suggested.

But I think there’s another way to make the same point–the argument Russ Feingold has been making. Rather than focusing on whether Afghanistan is the headquarters of al Qaeda, Feingold focuses on all the other places where al Qaeda is active where we’re not sending 30,000 troops (Feingold admits that Pakistan is important to al Qaeda right now, which raises the question of whether we’re sending these 30,000 for Afghanistan or Pakistan).


Let’s talk a little bit about why you oppose what the president is doing. What’s wrong with his logic?

FEINGOLD: Well, it just doesn’t add up for me.

The president says, we’re doing this. We’re adding 30,000, 35,000 troops to finish the job. And I ask the question, “What job?” because the president has been so eloquent in pointing out our issue is fighting al Qaeda.

The argument falls apart when you realize that al Qaeda does not have its headquarters in Afghanistan anymore. It is headquartered in Pakistan. It is active in Somalia, and Yemen, North Africa, affiliates of it in Southeast Asia.

Why does it make sense to have a huge ground presence in Afghanistan to deal with a small al Qaeda contingent, when we don’t do that in so many other countries where we’re actually having some success without invading the country and attacking those that are part of al Qaeda? It doesn’t make sense.

BLITZER: Well, here’s how the president responds to that. I will play this clip from his speech last night.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We must deny al Qaeda a safe haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government.


BLITZER: I guess the main point he’s trying to make is, if — if the U.S. were to lose, let’s say, in Afghanistan, just walk away, all those al Qaeda operatives who have crossed the border into Pakistan would simply go back to a pre-9/11 situation that the Taliban would control and give them that safe haven in Afghanistan.

FEINGOLD: That’s an incredibly unlikely scenario, in my view, that al Qaeda would find that to be the ideal place to return to. The notion that the Taliban would automatically welcome them with open arms is questionable, in light of the fact that in the first place they came into Afghanistan with the Taliban’s blessing because they had a lot of money to pass around.

Now they are hiding in caves in Pakistan. And I’m wondering why the president thinks he shouldn’t have ground forces and troops in countries all over the world that are not only potential, but current safe havens for al Qaeda. Why aren’t we doing that approach of a huge land presence in those places, as in Northern Africa, in Yemen and Somalia? It doesn’t make sense. Why this one place, where it’s not the place that al Qaeda actually is headquartered in?

Feingold raises an important point–not just because al Qaeda is active in all these other places. But also because it presents the question of where the greatest push to American extremism has come from. Hillary, after all, was focusing on Zazi, who did train in Pakistan before coming home and attempting to make TATP explosives. But just last week, DOJ unsealed indictments against a bunch more Somalis from the Twin Cities, bringing the total number indicted there to 14.

Terrorism charges have been unsealed today in the District of Minnesota against eight defendants. According to the charging documents, the offenses include providing financial support to those who traveled to Somalia to fight on behalf of al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization; attending terrorist training camps operated by al-Shabaab; and fighting on behalf of al-Shabaab.

Thus far, 14 defendants have been charged in the District of Minnesota through indictments or criminal complaints that have been unsealed and brought in connection with an ongoing investigation into the recruitment of persons from U.S. communities to train with or fight on behalf of extremist groups in Somalia. Four of these defendants have previously pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

The charges were announced today by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; B. Todd Jones, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minneapolis; and Ralph S. Boelter, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“The recruitment of young people from Minneapolis and other U.S. communities to fight for extremists in Somalia has been the focus of intense investigation for many months,” Assistant Attorney General Kris said. “While the charges unsealed today underscore our progress to date, this investigation is ongoing. Those who sign up to fight or recruit for al-Shabaab’s terror network should be aware that they may well end up as defendants in the United States or casualties of the Somali conflict.”

And it’s not just in the Twin Cities, but the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia appears to be growing in strength, as well.

A suicide bombing at a Somali student graduation ceremony which killed three government ministers and at least 16 other civilians on Thursday bore Al Qaeda’s hallmark and further endangered the future of the country’s wobbling administration, analysts says.

I’m not really suggesting we send 30,000 troops to Somalia. Rather, I think Feingold makes a very good point. We’re not about to send 30,000 Americans to Pakistan to fight al Qaeda. We’re not about to send 30,000 American to Somalia to fight al-Shabaab, either. But that seems instructive. We’re fighting–out of necessity or political sensitivity–in more threatening havens for terrorism via entirely different means.

So why are we choosing Aghanistan, of all places, to send the troops?

79 replies
  1. Funnydiva2002 says:

    Thanks, EW

    Rachel Maddow was very tough on UN Ambassador Susan Rice last night–on exactly this point. We’re not in direct danger from AlQ in Afghanistan, isn’t this just an extension of the Bush Doctrine?

    Ms Rice is clearly a consummate diplomat, but I’m not sure I buy her answers.


    • bobschacht says:

      Susan Rice was very firm on the point that Al Qaeda in AfPak is a “clear and present danger,” and IIRC, she minimized the threat from Somalia. But I hope Rachel reads this diary and gets Rice back to press her on this point.

      Thanks for this diary!

      Bob in AZ

    • hazmaq says:

      Stop comparing the Bush preemptive dead or alive doctrine to Obama’s clean-up of Bush’s preemptive dead or alive doctrine.

      I’m disgusted but not surprised by Thomas Friedman of the NYT and others who gave and still give free reign to Israel for any and all attacks of any kind anywhere for the sake of ‘Israel’s security’, yet instantly condemn Obama for trying to protect the security of the US by cleaning up the refuse caused by those same supporters of both Bush and Israel’s barbaric policies.

  2. azygous says:

    Feingold at least is expressing doubt. But why does he quit there? Why is so few people have gone on to draw the conclusion that Obama’s decision to send the 30,000 troops to southern Afganistan might just have something to do with securing the area so that the oil/gas pipeline through Pakistan to India can commence construction?

    In view of that, wouldn’t the whole thing make more sense?

    I wish someone would point out that terrorism is just an excuse to use our military, the precious youth of our nation, to provide protection for corporate interests.

    • lawordisorder says:

      Highway one and the ambassedor op-ed

      Problem=solution=powerfull weapon

      coruption bigtime=KHARZAI how do you take it out?

      You terminate private “enterprice” regarding logistic…and “hammer” your way trough! Do you guys know what the “nickname” of a main battletank is in Pashtu?

      Just my five cents worth (now hand some sorry ass old warriors some Trashtalk, some tunes and a six pack)

    • TarheelDem says:

      Because commercially the oil/gas pipeline no longer makes sense. Turkmenistan, the folks with the oil, has made separate agreements with Iran and China to build a pipeline.

      If India is on good relations with Iran, that pipeline could go to Chah Bahar, with transport to India across the Arabian Sea. Construction and operation costs would be substantially lower than trying to go through the Hindu Kush.

      A pipeline to China need not go through Afghanistan at all or go through the part controlled by the Northern Alliance.

      So the persistent pipeline argument, while it might have been feasible through a Taliban government (and even that history is doubtful) no longer is a viable commercial venture, even if Afghanistan becomes the new Switzerland of Asia.

  3. fatster says:

    Excellent analysis, EW. Mighty mysterious, isn’t it? Pipeline has to be protected, of course, but surely it wouldn’t take 100,000 troops (plus an additional 100,000 “contractors”) to do that unless some Very Powerful Force is threatening. Pakistan fascinates, particularly given the recent hand-over of authority over their nukes from the president to the prime minister–and who knows what else is going on over there. 100,000 troops in Afghanistan brings up the specter of a land war in Asia, and we’ve all heard the warning about that, and remember the dismal outcomes of other military efforts in Afghanistan, most recently Russia. Meanwhile, we’re being treated like a bunch of little mushrooms.

    If the Obama administration continues with their mysterious ways, perhaps we should consider taking up divination.

    • phred says:

      I don’t know if it helps in clearing up the mystery, but in the LBJ phone calls that Bill Moyers aired a couple of weeks ago one of the key concerns was that Republicans would accuse LBJ and Dems of cutting and running and being cowards in the next election. History tends to repeat itself.

      • fatster says:

        Now don’t tell me, phred, that in addition to all the other concerns about “warring up”, we have to consider the school-yard scenario of a bunch of ego-needy children taunting and daring each other. I hope you’re wrong, but your point is well-taken.

        History does repeat–often first time as tragedy, second time as farce (Marx) or because nobody learned anything during the first go-round so they keep repeating it (Santayana). Meanwhile, lives are being lost, just frittered away.

        Feingold is a courageous man. We’ll have to do all we can to encourage others to wake up, get a grip and join him.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Great point about the “cut and run” doctrine.
        Wonder what Teddy Kennedy would do?
        My gut would be he would oppose it in his heart, but not so sure
        how he would frame it politically…
        We ignore history to our shame

        Senators and especially to NH’s Jughead on health care:
        “To say nothing, to do nothing, to know nothing, and to have nothing,
        is to be a great part of your title; which is within a very little of nothing.”
        All Well that Ends Well, II.iv

    • sona says:

      part of the rationale to transfer authority over the nuclear arsenal from the president to the prime minister lies in rolling back powers abrogated by the presidency during pakistan’s numerous military coups. The original constitution of pakistan established a parliamentary democracy, not a congressional one with a directly elected president, which vested executive authority with the parliament headed by a prime minister while the president remained the nominal executive head who could only act as advised by the prime minister.

  4. Jeff Kaye says:

    Spencer’s article mentions the influence of Special Ops top officers on the Obama administration, especially in relation to the Afghanistan policy. One of the officers he mentions is Vice Admiral McRaven. He rightly mentions the latters connections to the mysterious Task Force 714. I wonder what the relation is between TF 174 and the assassination squads reporting to Cheney that Seymour Hersh said had McRaven as one of the leaders? In fact, in this quote, Hersh said that McRaven put a stop to the assassinations due to an unacceptably high “collateral” death rate. (Of course, all this is of interest in the light of the VF Prince article, where, with the backing perhaps of Israeli intelligence-linked individuals, he rants and raves against how the CIA made him a [very rich] martyr, patron saint, if you will, of assassinations.)

    The Obama decision on Afghanistan signals that the criminals are definitely back in charge. The fleeing liberals, jumping off the Obama ship (and they won’t be the last), are another sign of this. Meanwhile, Feingold may speak out some, but Congress in general lies down, having become superfluous during the Bush/Cheney years.

    Excellent points, though, about Somalia. Of course, the U.S. helped destabilize Somalia, not least through its backing of the Ethiopian invasion a few years back. Here’s a blurb from a Wired story in March 2008, which in a few short sentences describes how the U.S. destroys countries as a matter of policy, and in the case of Somalia, fostered the conditions for an Islamic insurgency:

    Citing the possibility that the Islamic Courts government was harboring terrorists, the Pentagon ordered gunships, fighters and warships to attack targets in Somalia, paving the way for Ethiopian tanks to sweep south, destroying Somalia’s first relatively stable government in 15 years. What Somalia was left with is starvation, tribal infighting, a brutal Ethiopian occupation and, ironically, a genuine Islamic insurgency where before there was only a suspicion of one….

  5. Mary says:

    Here’s an option.

    Let’s send the 30,000 troops to Switzerland to enforce the new ban on minarets.

    We’d only have to stay until we could be sure that there would never be another minaret built. Ever.

    And there’d be chocolate.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Good idea. That Swiss ban on a specific expression of Islamic architecture assuredly will bring everyone who disagrees with it to towering heights of violence. They might act so precipitously, their marshmallows won’t have time to melt in their hot chocolate.

      Given that a number of those who might feel aggrieved by this ban will be inventive Swiss, expect lots of them to add keeps and towers to their chalets, equipped with Bang & Olufsen speakers to call their friends to, um, have a chat on their oriental rugs before dinner.

      Mr. Obama attempt to split the baby is predictably a weak concession to his generals, while trying to give the impression of Deep Thought and consideration for the left’s perspective. Expect him to do a Bush and define those 30,000 as excluding clerks, typists, etc., who will be added as additional supporters in order to bring the number of troops up to the full complement his generals asked for. Excluding mercenaries, of course, whose actual number and cost the American public is inadequately serious or responsible enough to be told about.

      Mr. O, it seems, has as much of a plan as Mr. Bush. He’s a conflict avoider surrounded by irreconcilable conflict, the pleaser who’s been told to sit in the corner of a round room. Three-dimensional chess my ass.

  6. powwow says:

    In the first round of show hearings helpfully arranged by powerful Congressional Democrats to coincide with and promote the Executive Branch campaign for escalation of lethal, exorbitantly-expensive armed conflict abroad (Levin and Skelton, Armed Services, Kerry and Berman, Foreign Relations/Affairs, backed by Reid and Pelosi), featuring, in each case, only Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen, Secretary of State Clinton, & Defense Secretary Gates, some truth did manage to leak out despite the self-muzzling, questioner-and-witness-protecting 5-minute limits on dialogue (if a question or questions asked used up five minutes in the asking, the committee chairs carefully made sure the question wasn’t answered by the witnesses because “time has expired” – over and over and over again). [The real hearings, I guess, are the ones that go on in private, as they did today, with Congress as the captive, unquestioning audience – in the new Capitol Visitors’ Center “secure room” – to an Executive Branch presentation of ‘secrets’ about (according to Harry Reid) “Iraq and Afghanistan,” which the entire Senate recessed from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m. Thursday to attend.]

    [These fake hearings infuriate me… And just wait until these same committee members fall on their knees before The Generals in the second round of show hearings next week – where the witnesses will get multiple, uncontested opportunities to spout platitudes with the questioner’s clock running, until the questioner’s time inevitably “has expired” without opportunity for follow-up. Yeah, Congress really thinks (and successive administrations know) that it’s got a good con going on the American people with this carefully-gamed set-up…]

    Anyway, as I started out to say, in the few minutes I could tolerate listening in to one of these dog-and-pony shows yesterday, Dana Rohrabacher, of all people, used his five minutes to good effect and in the process effortlessly chewed up and spat out Clinton/Gates/Mullen.

    First, Rohrabacher pointed out that the U.S. didn’t remove the Taliban government from power in 2001, the Northern Alliance did, with the help of a mere hundred or so U.S. forces on the ground. Then he pointed out that the U.S., post-Taliban-government, moved to install a centralized Kabul government that is completely foreign to the way Afghanistan functions as a dispersed, decentralized, isolated-tribal area society, in a futile effort to force our top-down control over the nation via a corrupt puppet regime. And I think he also got the point in about there being only 100 or so Al Qaeda members remaining in Afghanistan for us to “fight,” according to Obama’s own NSAdvisor Jones, though I can’t recall for sure now. Basically Republican Dana Rohrabacher demonstrated perceptive, detailed knowledge about what the “ground truth” of the situation is over there, and didn’t mince words in conveying how it contradicted the administration’s generalities about the conflict. [Whereas, in comparison, Democrat (and lawyer) Brad Sherman, also of California, lamely and pathetically trailed off at the end of his remarks with “I can only wish you success…” to Clinton, as he publicly tossed his Constituitonal oath of office to the Executive Branch with a shrug.]

    Obviously, and Senator Feingold has to know this, as second-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee behind Kerry, Members of Congress have been ordered, in the name of Party loyalty, or alleged duty, to “lay off” for months now (after years of similarly-disastrous abdication), and thus have carefully avoided any meaningful hearings about our ongoing Afghanistan conflict with anyone not promoting the administration agenda. Instead the supposed committees of jurisdiction all mutely sat and waited until, and now even after, the President formally gave them his marching orders about new funding and new deployment objectives and requirements for our Armed Forces, rather than the other way around as required by the Constitution. Accordingly, with a private wink and a nod, all the most powerful Party members obediently sat down and shut up, oaths of Congressional office be damned:

    However, the actor intended by the founders to be the lead and be loud in questions of war — the United States Congress — has and continues to remain almost entirely silent. Article I of our Constitution states that Congress is given enumerated powers to speak loudly over questions of war.

    Our founders did not intend for central questions of war to be discussed behind closed doors, within private meetings of envoys, ambassadors, generals and the executive, but in the halls of Congress. The father of the Constitution, James Madison stated, “In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause that confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.” And the unanswered question for Afghanistan is not one of troop levels, but of the first principle of war–the objective.

    The U.S. Army’s Field Manual 3-0 states, “every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective.” Denial of sanctuary to Al Qaeda, protecting the Afghan people, building Afghan security forces — our nation cannot accomplish any of these objectives on the cheap. Achieving these objectives would require a generational commitment of billions, a substantial and permanent growth of the military, and sacrifice of our options elsewhere through a commitment of blood and treasure in Afghanistan — all tasks given to the Congress in the Constitution.


    A debate in Congress on objectives in Afghanistan would be open, perhaps ugly, with compromises and politics at play. Yet the definition of objectives, especially when they involve questions of war and peace, is not a question of style or convenience but one of duty so that our voice, through Congress, could be heard loud and clear.

    Eight years in, we deserve more than another executive debate of resources behind closed doors. We deserve a Congress willing to do their constitutional duty — define an objective or bring our troops home.

    – Congressional Candidate Tommy Sowers of Missouri


    I can hear Feingold thinking, though he still doesn’t dare say it even if his comments logically lead there, that it’s way past time we stopped declaring war on criminals, and finally got down to solving this “syndicate” problem in the same tried and tested way it’s been successfully solved (and prevented) in the case of other criminal mob and gang syndicates of all flavors and colors, by this and other nations around the world for generations: By tracking and intercepting criminal suspects, and by enforcing the law.

    • bobschacht says:

      …Then he pointed out that the U.S., post-Taliban-government, moved to install a centralized Kabul government that is completely foreign to the way Afghanistan functions as a dispersed, decentralized, isolated-tribal area society, in a futile effort to force our top-down control over the nation via a corrupt puppet regime….

      This is a time-honored tactic of the U.S. Gov’t, practiced many times on “dispersed, decentralized, isolated-tribal area” tribal societies like the Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux, etc.

      Bob in AZ

      • knowbuddhau says:

        Nice one! I cringe at comments that completely ignore our long and brutal history of conquest and occupation, such as “America has never before waged a war of aggression.”

        That’s the truth-twisting power of the myth of American Exceptionalism: ‘We don’t do what others have done, even when we’re doing it right now.’

        Reminds me of this passage in Harold Pinter’s Nobel laureate speech:

        But this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.

        The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

        Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

        It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

        I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’

        It’s a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words ‘the American people’ provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don’t need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it’s very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

        Obama made much use of that trope on Tuesday. Pepe Escobar busted his myths the next day.

        The much-hyped Obama speech on Tuesday night at West Point – edited by the president himself up to the last minute – was a clever rehash of the white man’s burden, sketching a progressive narrative for US national security clad in the glorious robes of “the noble struggle for freedom”.


        Obama still says Afghanistan is a “war of necessity” – because of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Wrong. The Bush administration had planned to attack Afghanistan even before 9/11. See Get Osama! Now! Or else … Asia Times Online, August 30, 2001.)


        The myth of al-Qaeda has to be exposed. How could al-Qaeda pull off 9/11 but be incapable of mounting a single significant attack inside Saudi Arabia? That’s because al-Qaeda is essentially a thinly disguised brigade of Saudi intelligence. The US wants to win “the war on terror”? Why not send special forces to Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan and knock the Wahhabis – the root of it all – out of power?

    • Mary says:

      YOu know, Rohrbacher also bent over backwards re: the Uighers and was way to the left of Obama in trying to do the right thing by them.

      And he apologized to Maher Arar during that piped in testimony IIRC. That’s much more than Obamaco has ever even tried to do, or most Dems in Congress for that matter.

      He’s still nutz on lots of things and has said basically, “I’m sorry Mr. Arar, but hey – wars suck, mistakes are made, and we still need the ability to disappear you Canadians into Syrian torture just in case” but sometimes you have to give him more credit than a Harry Reid, for example, is due.

  7. Arbusto says:

    Seems to me, the present Bush Adm. wants increased action along the Af/Pak border and increased Pakistani cooperation to destroy the evil ones sanctuary, whether anyone’s home or not. The Pakistani, with great fanfare, are killing scads of evil doers, although no honest broker has confirmed anything, except thousands of displaced people fleeing the influx of troops.

    After what’s his names WP pontification, Pakistan said, in effect, good luck, god speed, we’re behind you, don’t cross our borders and we’re not going to help you. What’s his names surge ain’t worth squat without hot pursuit and Pakistan troop involvement and cooperation.

    As the pilot said “let’s make a 360 and get out of this mess.”

      • Arbusto says:

        Let’s do a 360 and get out of here is an old pilots joke, old joke and old pilots. It indicates the mistakes one makes while under pressure, in an environment where you can’t afford mistakes. Perhaps Obama is living another pilot saying: There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. Too bad; we need a bold pilot today.

  8. David Dayen says:

    What senior Administration officials told me on a conference call after the speech is that Af-Pak has a history of violence projecting across the world from their region.

    Like we have a “tradition” of the Hyde Amendment in this country, right?

    And they think Zazi clinches it.

    Peter Bergen, who I imagine supports this surge, testified back in October to some committee in Congress and said that Al Qaeda is no longer a first-order threat to the United States. I can’t believe that didn’t get more attention. I linked the testimony up in this post.

    • 4jkb4ia says:

      Thanks for the testimony. I think the testimony that the Taliban would shelter Al Qaeda if they came to power overwhelmed the “second-order threat” part.

  9. Hmmm says:

    I’m not sure it’s at all convincing, but FWIW a couple recent Large Orange diaries posit that what this is really about is extending an opaque, ill-defined operational fog in Afghanistan in order to conceal a secret and intensive effort to recover some loose nukes, likely of either Pakistani or olde USSR provenance. Such a mission couldn’t be publicly admitted, goes the rationale, and this helps explain why the public reasons make (as EW has highlighted) no sense. Interesting to contemplate the sort of inverted parallelism to the Bush WMD rationale for Iraq; history rhyming yet again.

  10. quake says:

    So why are we choosing Aghanistan, of all places, to send the troops?

    Presumably because it’s next door to Pakistan, which has the bomb, while Somalia doesn’t. Of course they obviously can’t say this out loud, but I’ve always assumed this was an important factor in the Pentagon/CIA planning.

  11. Citizen92 says:


    Several stories about Chris Christie naming his top advisors.

    Chief of Staff will be an ex-Pfizer exec.

    But what I found really interesting relates to his “we havr some attorneys down in Newark” comments from early in the campaign. Christie is making Kevin O’Dowd, presently an AUSA in Newark, his Deputy Chief of Staff.

    O’Dowd (37 yrs old) and Michele Brown (Christie mortgagee) headlined the prosecution team on a case of hip/knee replacement surgery kickbacks. The stakes were high, they won, and this resulted in a bunch of things, most notably having the Ashcroft Group monitor one firm, and Debra Yang (ex-USA) monitor another.

    Good luck NJ!

  12. Rayne says:

    It’s about the nukes, and it’s about sovereignty, and it’s about the neighbors, and location-location-location.

    — Afghanistan has somewhat more legitimacy, if only a hair, in terms of governance in comparison to Somalia. Therefore more formal position required;
    — At least one of Afghanistan’s neighbors have nukes which may go astray. Dictates a need for a more formal military stance;
    — Afghanistan is land-locked; there’s no way to get there except over land, which means there must be some formalized position or standing with regards to military status.

    Somalia, on the other hand,
    — Has virtually no government, and its attempts to self-govern have been perturbed (gee, I wonder why…);
    — The neighbors have been cooperative, forming a military backstop as militants/terrorists/nom du jour have been pushed from Somalia and then eliminated at the border (yes, eliminated, at least 3000 in one go);
    — There’s no need to have troop presence on the ground because we have other resources readily available due to Somalia’s coastline and the presence of troops in neighboring countries. We have some facilities in Ethiopia and Kenya, for example, and naval presence offshore (Google up my piece in The Seminal, “Who is Brian Losey and what is he doing in the Horn of Africa?”).

    So…any questions?

    The fundamental problem I see is that Pakistan is on the verge of failure, we may have contributed to this status under Bush/Cheney and now under Obama/Biden/Clinton, and we do not have adequate authority to do something about their nukes. The AUMF we’re using for Afghanistan is already stretched paper-thin; it’s time to revisit this entire situation and have an adult conversation out in the open about it.

    Oh, and you can bet this was one of the big drivers behind the state dinner with India, as well as a subtext to Obama’s APEC meeting with China’s Hu Jintao.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      The fundamental problem I see is that Pakistan is on the verge of failure

      That’s my opinion as well. But much as I hate to say anything even remotely positive about BushCo, I also believe that AQ would be in charge of Pakistan if BushCo hadn’t been supporting the Pakistan government. And if Obama doesn’t support the Pakistan government, AQ will be in charge before much time has elapsed.

      As for Authority over their nukes, we have none. But I’m quite confident that there is a set of plans to “secure” pakistans nukes in the event of an AQ takeover. Those plans are likely reviewed no less than weekly and there are probably hot teams ready to go.

      Boxturtle (You can get further with a kind word and a gun then you can with just a kind word – Al Capone)

        • BoxTurtle says:

          I’m okay with whatever it takes to keep Pakistans nukes out of AQ hands. AQ will use them.

          And I’m not sure it would be blackwater doing the dirty work. Those weapons will be stored in bunkers in the most heavily defended bases. Even with air support, satellite intelligence, and so on it will take several companies at each site to have a chance of success if the soldiers there decide to resist.

          But it wouldn’t shock me if the Pakistani’s objections were simply pro forma, like their gripes about the drone strikes, and in the event of an AQ threat they’re ready to assist in moving the weapons. Dunno.

          I think in the event on an AQ takeover, Blackwater’s job will be to extract or kill any Pakistani who could assist AQ in developing WMD. That’s more their style.

          Boxturtle (Remember, Pakistan has chemical and likely Bio weapons as well)

          • Rayne says:

            Go browse through YouTube; you’ll find quite a number of videos which will give you some idea of how Pakistanis feel about Blackwater and their behavior towards Pakistanis and informal occupation by the U.S.

            It’s not okay if the outcome is more anti-American sentiment.

            It’s not okay if the nation/state is already a hot bed of terrorism for many other reasons. An illegitimate occupation by arrogant foreign nationals only provides a more focused lightning rod to foment real upheaval.

            Imagine living in a country one and a half times the size of Texas where more than 6500 people were killed, more than 10000 injured by terrorist attacks which occur every 2 or 3 days over a period of 2-1/2 years.

            And then throw in a compound of heavy-handed trigger-happy Americans with pissy attitude and security contracts in the middle of it.

            This is not how tensions are eased, nor how the citizens of the country learn constructively to resolve their differences between their countrymen and with other neighboring countries while reducing corruption and increasing domestic security. The current formula only focuses the angry energy towards Americans.

            • BoxTurtle says:

              I did not dispute that Blackwater is hated universally by the Pakistani’s, even by those who use them.

              Anti-American feelings are nearly as deep and nearly as widespread already. If it’s a choice between them hating us and an AQ nuke hitting a friend, I’ll back our friends.

              And I doubt the plan is occupation. In the event of an AQ takeover, the WMD plan would be in-out. Besides, if the nukes aren’t secured quickly, either Israel or India will strike before AQ can decode the triggers.

              I agree 100% that what you describe is NOT how tensions are eased. And as long as AQ is not in charge, we need to ease tensions. But if AQ does become in charge, I don’t think easing tensions will work well.

              Boxturtle (ObamaCo supporting the current government is the lesser of evils)

              • Rayne says:

                The problem we’re faced with isn’t an either/or proposition, though, never has been.

                Think about the old computer game, SimCity (or some other variant, SimFarm or other simulation). Every action had repercussions, but they weren’t linear. Further, this game of simulation had a limited range of non-linear repercussions. Real life doesn’t.

                I am far less worried about AQ getting the nukes at this point than an angry Pakistan which perceives us as taking sides against it, violating its sovereignty. Given the amount of damage we’ve done to AQ’s network, it’s far more likely that a populist uprising could promote an anti-American government into posturing which could reignite an arms race. Imagine us dealing with the Pakistani equivalent of Hamas — legitimately elected, but sworn to defending its people against incursions by outside forces.

                The U.S. has had a very nasty habit of over-simplifying things, like toddlers. Once upon a time we thought the Soviet Union was the big bogeyman; we and some allies armed a group of “freedom fighters” to do the Soviet Union damage. We also armed a middle eastern leader who would keep Iran in check, after our attempts to do so ourselves in a more direct fashion failed.

                Funny how that all turned out, all those simple, linear, either/or solutions.

    • shekissesfrogs says:

      I agree that it’s high time that we have an adult conversation, with the world.
      @faster “a bunch of little mushrooms to us” is a good simile.

      Pakistan and India have been at war over the Kashmir, sometimes overt military or it continues as a proxy war using extremists and false flag terror which is creating some of the instability in Pakistan. Israel feeds their belligerency for it’s own purposes.
      Obama is wooing India’s PM Singh and has asked them to stop occupying the Kashmir but they rejected it outright and referred to it as insane.
      This area is a tinder box. If Obama is putting troops in there to redraw the Durand line along ethnic lines that would be a good thing, because AQ clearly issue is a ruse. if Obama really wanted to turn a corner, he could punishing those responsible who acted in concert with General Dostrum’s convoy of death episode, the killing of 7000 Taliban that surrendered after the initial invasion.
      Afghanis are pissed off and distrustful over that..( the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and why we cant just go forward with any of this torture massacre stuff)

      Hillary has zero credibility in painting people as terrorists, already having done her part labeling the Serbs as modern the modern day equivalency of the Nazis and tender nurturing of the KLA
      Obama didn’t choose his cabinet. His was an pre-assembled government in exile assembled by the Neoliberal “Center for Amercian Progress” group that also runs the veal pen. May as well call it Clinton 2.0

  13. TarheelDem says:

    Why not send 30,000 troops to Somalia?

    Easy answer: Been there. Done that. Lost the helicopter.

    Just ask Hillary how that one worked out.

  14. oldtree says:

    It makes all the sense in the world if our government is a shadow government for the pentagon, doesn’t it?
    Notice how much Obama has been able to do about his promises?
    Let’s all wake up and stop pretending we don’t live in a military dictatorship that has the power to command endless war from the little toadies in congress and the meaningless white house.
    Can’t anyone smell their nose hairs burning?

    Russ Feingold talks but does nothing. Time for the blue dog label Russ? We expected a lot more.

  15. alank says:

    If one could effectively argue the case that al-Qa’ida is a cohesive group with a common cause or grievance against the west and particularly the U.S. and its NATO allies, then one must conclude the growth of such a group is a direct function of spreading U.S. belligerence against them and those they represent.

    The focus on this group — the Goldstein from the 1984 narrative — is for public consumption only. The ulterior motive of U.S. belligerence is strategic in nature. The Goldstein distraction is just a cover for the goal of gaining control of regions of interest to multinationals. Your tax dollars at work, as the highway signs broadcast. It also helps explain away the MIC trough.

  16. fuckno says:

    “Dana Rohrabacher, of all people, used his five minutes to good effect and in the process effortlessly chewed up and spat out Clinton/Gates/Mullen.”

    Yesterday it was DeMint, of all people, who drilled Bernanke with pertinent incisive questioning.

    Z’up with that?

    • Praedor says:

      Irrelevant. All pro forma. Those bastards are going to reconfirm Bernanke anyway. Same as they will jump in the end to FULLY back Obama’s imperial war in Afghanistan and, soon, Iran.

      Congress is irrelevant. They’ve made themselves useless and irrelevant, and why not? The pay is good (from corporations).

  17. fuckno says:

    “the director of U.S. national intelligence, retired Admiral Dennis Blair, said in February that the economic crisis was the biggest national security threat to the United States. See this and this.”

    ” a leading advisor to the U.S. military – the very hawkish Rand Corporation – released a study in 2008 called “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qa’ida”. The report confirms what experts have been saying for years: the war on terror is actually weakening national security.

    As a press release about the study states:

    “Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”


  18. Oval12345678akaJamesKSayre says:

    Maybe, just maybe, we should consider not being such vile imperial pigs around the planet… If we weren’t stealing oil and plundering other countries natural resources, maybe those foreign folks would be a little better off, and thus would not be so very hostile. Terrorism? Oh, the US military has been terrorizing third world countries for over a century now; one hundred and eleven years so far, and at least five million people murdered in our foreign interventions.

  19. Taylor26 says:

    why are we choosing Aghanistan, of all places, to send the troops?

    Because Pakistan has nukes.

    And if you want to entertain rhetorical questions, here’s one: where is the Taliban funding coming from?

  20. gamd521 says:

    At some point people need to come to the realization that the foreign policy of the US as relates to fighting with Muslims that are unwilling to bend to US will is a threat to our very survival.

    I will not use terms like “extremists” or “terrorists” to people that respond to US aggression in kind. Unless someone can convince me that in the abscence of US provocation these people would still harbor ill will to the US, then labelling people in this way is arbitrary and unjustified. It’s only a ploy to make ourselves play the role of innocent victim.

    Much like in the case of Israel we choose to see ourselves as well intentioned people that inspite of our best efforts in pursuing world peace we are thanklessly responded with unthinking violent ingratitude. Well that is not the view that people on the receiving end of US aggression choose to see.

    The problem now is that we as a people are running the very real threat that our foreign policy planners have put us in the scary prospect of one of these determined Muslim fighters will decide to drop a nuclear device on our heads.

    Ron Paul yesterday had it pretty nearly right. It is our foreign policy of having a military and destabilizing presence around the world that engenders justified ill will against the US. To eliminate this hsotility against us then just stop antagonozing and exploiting people around the world. That is only common sense.

  21. robspierre says:

    I question both premises for continued involvement in Afghanistan at this late date. The claims are that these domestic terrorisim cases are real/dangerous threats hatched abroad and that continuing the war in South Asia can do anything about them.

    Stripped of the sensational rhetoric, the Zazi case has had all the hallmarks of being the usual boogeyman conspiracy that ends in vague, dubiously constitutional “material-support” charges. Maybe the government does have real, solid evidence that it hasn’t yet revealed. But it has said that before and has zero credibility. We are told that Zazi “trained in Pakistan.” But what does that mean? Demolitions training? If so, the training does not seem to have been all that solid on the chemistry involved. Or are we just saying that he went to a fundamentalist madrassa, memorized his Koran, and said mean things about America and Israel?

    Stripped of the prosecutorial spin and histrionics and viewed strictly in terms of what has transpired in public (the behavior of Zazi’s first attorney and the presentation of the initial case against him), the case looks like it was manufactured using provocateurs, in classic, old-world secret-police style. A naive local lawyer thought that his client had the goods on the originator of the plot and would at worst be a witness, only to find that the originator was the government’s own informant/agent. His poor smuck of a client had been coached and set up in the nonexistent role of mastermind.

    Be that as it may, I fail to see how soldiers on the ground in South Asia do anything to stop plots in Denver, even if such intervention does not actually provoke plots, as some allege. We talk about going after the Al Qaeda leadership as if that were the equivalent of capturing Berlin, killing Hitler, and rounding up the Nazi government. It is not. Al Qaeda is a gang, not a nation state. It is at most a network, not a hierarchy. There is no Al Qaeda prime minister, no general staff, no generals–just goons. So either we declare war on the nation states that sponsor, harbor, and pay for Al Qaeda–Pakistan and, more importantly, Saudi Arabia–and go after THEIR capitals and governments. Or we deal with the problem at home, using the police, as the ordinary criminal matter that it is. After all, the only spectacularly successful prosecutions of terrorists in my lifetime–the cases against the World Trade Center truck bombers, the Oklahoma City bombers, and the various Klan gangs–were all handled this way.

    If we treat terrorism as a domestic criminal matter, South Asia continues to be a mess, of course. Maybe it even gets worse. The nuclear weapons are still rattling around in Pakistan with the most fundamentalist Muslims in the country–military and intelligence groups–controlling them. But how does military intervention in Afghanistan alter the situation for the better? The time to control Pakistan’s nuclear arms was back in the Reagan administration, when we could have simply enforced our own non-proliferation laws and nipped the problem in the bud. Now, come what may, we have to more or less live with it.

    If we ever could have cleaned up the mess in South Asia–both the mess that we made and the mess they made for themselves–we can’t do so now. All we can do is not make it worse. Obama is making it worse.

  22. fuckno says:

    The Zazi ‘case’ shows to me that a standing Army over there failed Zazi from coming over here, while whoever was vigilant over here did their job.

    Zazi is a ruse, US government is in the business of destabilization for the sake of corporate profit.

  23. shekissesfrogs says:

    Freudian slip?

    …it presents the question of where the greatest push to American extremism has come from.

  24. Sara says:

    Well, I have a significantly different interpretation of Obama’s intentions.

    As to Pakistan — since he came into office, I detect a decided effort to get the Government of Pakistan plus the Army of Pakistan to plan and execute against the terrorists INSIDE Pakistan. The milestones along that way would include the meeting on one of our Aircraft Carriers off shore from Karachi to which all the Pakistani players were “invited” last February, and where Obama’s National Security Team was flown in. Lasted three days. Only lightly reported. Since then nearly weekly one or another of the National Security types have been on Pakistani visits, as have NATO parallel officials. The Pakistani’s were invited to Russia, and the Russians have been to Pakistan, ditto China. It was the “push” that provoked the Pak Army to finally act in Swat, and then actually compose a reasonably decent plan for South Waziristan, and executed it. I would suggest the Pakistani’s have been told, and not just by the US, but India, China, NATO — get your damn act together and take control of your own territory, including the FATA. US willing to use some assets to help, for instance shareing intelligence of military usefulness with Pakistani Army, willing to sell necessary helicopters, spare parts, night vision equipment, etc., but only so long as Pakistan showed evidence of taking on Taliban inside Pakistan.

    The result has been the wave of terror attacks inside Pakistan — such as to one in the ‘Pindi mosque this morning. (Butcher’s bill apparently includes three Generals, one Col. and a retired member of their Joint Chiefs…rather like blowing up an event like the Funeral of an American former Defense Secretary or Chief of Staff.) No state that intends to actually defend its Sovereignty can afford to keep taking waves of targeted attacks such as this and not reacting so as to actually execute what Sovereignty actually means. (Among other things, it means the State has a reasonable monoply of violence.) Why is it happening — because both Swat and Waziristan are proving to be reasonably disruptive to the coalition of Pakistani Taliban + al-Quada + other groups such as LeT. But having made “deals” over the years with this anti-statist crowd, it seems to me that at the beginning of the Obama Administration a message was delivered to shape up — and that message came with links to the Monitary Fund, the World Bank, and much of the international alliance Obama seems to have assembled.

    One outcome has been that Public Opinion in Pakistan seems to have turned toward support for taking on the internal sources of terror — and I would suggest that today’s suicide bombing will only strengthen this. Over the years the US, plus many other countries have gone along with Pakistan blaming everyone but itself for its disasters — India was responsible for the independence movement in Bangaledesh, when in fact the underlying problem was West Pakistan’s organization of Government and Economy in such a way that totally Privileged West Pakistan and the West Pakistani dominated Officer’s Corps, including the massacures of East Pakistanis. If a train goes off the tracks in Pakistan due to bad track or inadequate maintence, the fault is always the Indian Hidden Hand.

    I think Obama finally called them on this, and did so with very significant international backing. Moreover, I would suggest that one look at the Predator attacks as added “encouragement” for Pakistan to act. We’ll stop looking to take out al-Quada and other forces camped in the FATA with Hellfires, when you — Pakistan — take control of that territory, and get rid of them yourself. (essentially, Grow Up, Pull up your Pants, act like a real Sovereign Country with Nukes that controls its own territory.) It is a version of Tough Love. I don’t really see any large scale international opposition to this policy.

    Pakistan has always been reluctant vis a vis establishment of reasonable security in Afghanistan, because its national policy has always been to view at least the Pashtun parts of Afghanistan as Pakistan’s strategic rear, a place to fall back into should it be attacked by India. Part and parcel of this has always been a weak central government in Afghanistan, and a very inferior Afghan Army. Well — look closely at Obama’s plan. First priority is on a reasonably well trained and equiped army, able to protect Afghanistan, sized perhaps at 250-300 thousand. That is not exactly the kind of Strategic Rear Pakistan has dreamed of maintaining over the years, and to which the ISI and Pak Army are committed. It is another element in what I see as an emerging Obama plan to get Pakistan to shape up. Now I guess we will have to see how cooperative Karzi is with the plans, or whether ways to go around him work.

    I can find many faults with Obama’s plan — details, many things I believe are cut more to fit American Politics than the actual problems, but at least he has a plan that can be executed, and he is getting buy in from Allies. Mogens Fogh Rasmussen announced today from the NATO meeting 7000 additional NATO troops, with more commitments coming in January. All to the good. I would suggest that Obama has done a lot of homework and it shows. That process of agreement, and kicking in resources is not happening without in-depth consultations.

    Right now, largely as a result of the bombing of their Kabul housing complex, the UN and many International NGO’s are very much in the background. I would suggest they have a major role to play, but perhaps it is all to the good that they are off the field as an effort to construct the security environment goes forward. I think it a huge fallacy that you can do much more than emergency humanitarian assistance until you have established reasonable security.

    Best comment I have seen in the last couple of days regarding this was over at Kos, where Dem from CT made the point we had all be complaining for the past eight years about lack of leadership — and then noted that this is precisely what leadership looks like.

    • Hmmm says:

      Would you suggest that the Afghanistan surge is meant as the anvil to the Pakistan hammer? Sort of a pincer move? We have so far been led to believe that the border area is notoriously spongy in the sense of its ability to absorb and then hide any AQ or Talibani who might be driven out of Pakistan by the escalation you describe.

      • Sara says:

        I think one of Obama’s major objectives is to force the Pakistani Civil Government, the Pak Army and the ISI, to work in concert toward the goal of establishing the writ of the Pakistani Government over all of Pakistan, particularly the FATA. It is the most important reform Pakistan could ultimately produce — ending the notion and reality that a country can have states within states — is the elected Pak government the government, or the Army, or this or that faction within ISI???

        Obama cannot go to West Point and give a speech that lays out his idea for deep going reforms in Pakistan. But don’t forget that Obama is ultimately interested in proper control and oversight of everything Nuclear, and the gradual reduction in all Nuke Arms, looking toward their elimination. I think this informs what he does vis a vis Pakistan — he is trying to set in motions the conditions that would be necessary to even think of negotiations to craft a workable international Nuclear Control regime.

        • shekissesfrogs says:

          You are channelling Hillary. Using force and coercion as a total solution, you don’t take into account the human factor or ethnic specific problems in their respective areas.
          There are many tribes and they can’t be just labeled the “terrorists”. I haven’t heard you mention what you think is the cause of instability or grievances. besides the fact that you say they are immature and they need to grow up, pull their pants up and act like big boys.
          India is very much a part of this and they haven’t exactly been benevolent neighbors and are responsible for some of the terrorism happening in Pakistan. One thing they could do would be to stop occupying kashmir, they’re working on their own little Israel up there.

  25. Sara says:

    As to Somalia — I strongly doubt that Obama would send any forces into Somalia, aside from perhaps some intelligence collectors, or a temporary special operations team or two. Instead, I suspect he is very interested in pressuring African Countries to recognize the potential dangers they might face from Somalian territory and use African Institutions to deal with the issues they can. At least I don’t think Obama will be dumb enough to encourage Ethopia, Somalia’s traditional enemy, to do an invasion.

    My guess is that Obama and others will perhaps turn to Egypt to provide some leadership — at least they have an army of some note, and are a Sunni Arab country that might be able to organize a strong peace making/keeping force that could acquire some sort of UN backing. Egypt in particular has no interest in having a radical al-quada led entity in their neighborhood.

    I don’t know if others have noticed, but Saudi Arabia has recently had some border shoot-outs with Yemini tribes. They are actually using their fancy air force quite aggressively against border violators. The attackers are a bit of a muddle — seems they are Shia, influenced by Iran, but also somehow hooked up with al-Quada…reinforced by al-Quada who have been trained in Pakistan, but moved to Yemen after the Pakistani’s started attacking Swat and South Waziristan. Obama will not get involved with this either, in my opinion, but he will certainly support the Saudi’s using all the weapons in their inventory for this purpose. Something to keep an eye on.

    Yesterday I read about a recent Hijacking of a ship off Oman — British Ship, West Indian Crew, that was threatened, but the Dutch Navy came along and captured all the attackers. Mother Ship was a hijacked Tanzanian fishing boat, with the fishermen tied up in the bottom of the ship and nearly dead, being used as the mother ship, for the thirteen pirates and their two speedboats. Now the Brits and the Dutch need to figure out who takes the pirates and puts them up in jail.

    Need a little humor — same article from the Dutch Press made note of the fact that Somalia has a stock exchange, and listed on the exchange are a number of companies formed by pirates to sell stock in their companies. So if you want, I guess you can buy futures in a good Hijack.

    • Nell says:

      Your comment seems to obliterate the reality that U.S. forces have been “operating” in Somalia for several years now, since our active support of the Ethiopian invasion.

      “Operating” in this case includes: bombing “suspected al Qaeda militants” and killing the hundreds of people around them, as well as rounding up hundreds and even thousands of people fleeing the bombings and imprisoning them indefinitely in prisons in Kenya.

      I’m unaware of any Obama-administration actions to reduce the level of U.S. involvement in Somalia, but am open to learning of any.

  26. keithb says:

    I guess it may be (or I may be) a little simplistic, but does it occur to anyone else anywhere, that for the amount of money we the taxpayers are going to be spending, just on this new surge of 30k or so troops, we could spend that amount of money just beefing up external intelligence gathering capabilities and enhancing the security of our borders, airports, seaports and harbors, to a point where no external terrorist would have any chance whatsoever of getting into this country and carrying out any major mischief? Just a thought.

    • shekissesfrogs says:

      Of course it makes sense, but it’s all just how they can twist the words into a proper form to make us believe that our intentions are altruistic.
      It’s cover for extending control over resources that belong to the people that live there who are also not being represented and they don’t like it.
      Security really means,”safety for commercial interests”.

  27. Nell says:

    I’m not really suggesting we send 30,000 troops to Somalia.

    Glad to hear it.

    Because the reason there is able to be recruiting of young Somali men in the Twin Cities now is that the U.S. actively supported the Ethiopian invasion and its occupation-backed government in Somalia. If we had stayed the hell out of it, the Islamic Courts government would still be in power in Somalia.

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