Therefore , international actors must be clear in their strategy when intervening
because state building is a deeply ... Finally , the end of this report deals
specifically with the dilemma of state building and that which some consider to be
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Author: Peter J. Quaranto
Category: Foreign intervention
'''Somalia burns, but does anyone care?' This question was asked by Andrew Cawthorne (2007) of Mail & Guardian, reporting in April 2007 on the eruption of violence in Somalia. The premise of his statement, 'Somalia burns', has remained indisputable. Since the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in December 2006, Somalia has experienced the worst fighting since the civil war of the early 1990s. April brought a peak in violence in Mogadishu between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and insurgents, including remnants of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). In the first week of April, a local human rights group reported 381 deaths and 565 wounded in just four days of fighting (CBC News 2007). Later in the month, the same group reported 212 killed and 291 wounded in another five days (Duhul 2007). As a result of the violence, an estimated 321 000 people, one-third of Mogadishu's population, were displaced by April (Abdulle 2007). Through September, the number of internally displaced people continued to rise. After visiting the region, United Nations humanitarian coordinator John Holmes said, 'In terms of numbers and access to them, Somalia is a worse displacement crisis than Darfur or Chad or anywhere else this year' (Clarke 2007). To date, Somalia is indeed burning. This situation raises Cawthorne's (2007) question: 'Does anyone care?' In his article, Cawthorne writes that Somalia 'has failed to grab world attention or stir global players'. Clearly, he is correct when he asserts that Western media and the public have largely neglected the story, associating Somalia with chronic bloodshed. Yet the international community, especially the United States government, has closely followed these events. In fact, US concern and subsequent actions have played a significant role. The Bush Administration, since the events of 11 September 2001, has expressed concern that as a 'failed state', Somalia may serve as a haven for terrorists. Until 2006, Washington was paying warlords in Mogadishu to track suspected al-Qaʹeda operatives and thwart Islamists. Then, with the UIC takeover of Mogadishu in mid-2006, the US tacitly backed the Ethiopian invasion. Today, Washington is pursuing counter-terror operations amid the Ethiopian occupation, while simultaneously promoting state building. As far as Cawthorne's query is concerned, US officials care a great deal about Somalia. However, the danger exists that a lack of public attention reduces accountability. Policymakers are able to operate with little debate on the ethics and effectiveness of US strategy. The aim of this report, if nothing else, is to challenge that position. This report suggests that US policy in Somalia since 2001 represents many strong trends in US security thinking. For instance, there has been a revived emphasis on state stability and, conversely, a problematisation of state weakness as a threat. US officials have focused on 'failed states', such as Somalia as havens and recruiting grounds for terrorists. Correspondingly, state building has been declared a key tactic of counter-terrorism. US officials have argued that the best long-term defence against terrorism is the existence of functional central governments, especially those willing to cooperate with Washington. Therefore, the US State Department recently stated that the two pillars of state building and counter-terrorism drive US policy in Somalia (McCormack 2006). The purpose of this report is to consider the interaction of those pillars in policymaking and, especially, their application at the scene of action."--Introduction.