Could Somalia Provide A Model For Iraq?

Michael Tennant suggests so:

To [pull out of Iraq], say proponents of a continued occupation, would have two disastrous consequences. First, it would cause America to lose face with the rest of the world, which is true but irrelevant since we ought to be concerned with doing what’s right regardless of how it looks. Second, it would leave Iraq in a state of anarchy, which in turn would lead to chaos and lawlessness and a general decline in the quality of life.

Or would it?

Consider the case of Somalia , another disastrous U.S. intervention wisely ended by President Clinton after the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident. Hawks then were upset at the appearance of American weakness and indecision, regardless of the correctness of the decision to remove Americans from harm’s way when they were not in any conceivable way engaged in the defense of the U.S. They were also chagrined that the job was left unfinished and thus that Somalia was left in disarray, ruled by no government in particular.

Conventional thinking would expect the Somalia of 2004 to be vastly worse off than the Somalia of 1991, when the period of anarchy began, with crime and poverty running rampant, necessities such as water and electricity in short supply, and a market economy all but impossible in the absence of a stabilizing authority. Conventional thinking, of course, would be wrong.

Read the whole thing.

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I think it's a wonderful

I think it's a wonderful idea. Perfect. Just because the puppet regime bush installed wants us to stay and be slaughtered, I see no reason for the continued loss of American lives.

I even have doubts that if a draft were initiated that we would have enough troops to enforce our brand of 'democracy' on the ground there.


I really disagree with this.

I really disagree with this. Somalia had a history of polycentric, clan-based law (the Xeer). Hence it had the cultural institutions in place to handle anarchy. When the central government fell, the old clan-based systems took over.

Iraq has no such traditions. I would expect it to devolve, not into prosperous anarchy, but into theocracy. It seems far from clear that this is would be an improvement on Saddam.

I have no problem with withdrawing our army, which the locals may not want, and I sure don't want to pay for. But I don't think the prospects for the country would be very rosy. Human nature abhors a power vacuum. has more.
Xeer relies heavily on kinship networks - when two somalis meet the first thing they do is sort out how they are related. Whether or not the enforced customs of the clans constitutes government is not clear to me.
There have been recent attempts to reimpose some sort of a central government in somalia, which is likely to set off another round of civil wars. Typically this invoves one clan leader getting uppity and trying to take over the turf of the other clans in violation of xeer, and should be opposed rather than supported by people in democracies.
The US is likely to be on the wrong side of that conflict. This blog is in a position to have an impact of how people think about the situation.

An islamic clan-based

An islamic clan-based government would be a patriarchy. Contrary to what some may think, the patriarch of a clan need not be the eldest, unless it is a patriarchal gerontocracy. :smile:

That said, was our intervention in Somalia truely a "disaster"? Well, while it was not deliberate, the civil war did end as a consequence. I would think of the intervention as a limited accidential success.