A few months ago, if you would have predicted that the United States would invade a thinly populated Third World country for no apparent strategic reason, and Jesse Jackson would strongly endorse the initiative, I would have either sold you some prime real estate in the Everglades or had you committed for dangerous, delusionary thought patterns. But, alas, such are the confusing proceedings and moral ambiguities of the "new world order."
A U.S. Marine corporal was interviewed the day before he was shipped out to Somalia. Asked why the U.S. military was being tapped to carry out this particular mission, he replied, "Our job is to support the public interest." Not the national interest, or our strategic interests. The public interest.
But is Somalia's "public interest" being served by the humanitarian intervention of 30,000 U.S. troops? The answer depends on many other factors, such as efforts at conflict resolution, disarmament, and reconstruction. But one thing is clear: non-military options, including diplomacy and local capacity building, were hardly even attempted before the option of force was exercised.
Multiple-choice question time: After nearly two years of civil war and famine in Somalia, why was this dramatic approach adopted in the twilight of the Reagan/Bush era?
a) The Pentagon, fearing substantial cuts in defense, was eagerly seeking a broader mandate to justify its $300 billion-per-year price tag;
b) the United Nations needed a practice run before its more difficult intervention in Bosnia;
c) President George Bush wanted to depart from office in a blaze of glory;
d) U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali wanted a large U.N.-controlled army, and Somalia provided the perfect opportunity to set a precedent;