Friday, October 03, 2003

As they say, history tends to repeat itself

Peacekeeping is a funny word in the context of modern military history. Today's NYT has an article on the 10 year anniversary of the fighting in Mogadishu that claimed the lives of at least a dozen American soldiers who were subsequently mutilated and paraded through the streets by Aidid's militia. The article is a first person narrative from Ken Cain, a UN Human Rights Officer (civilian) who was in Somalia during the attacks.

I head downstairs, where my house mates are watching CNN. A story about Boris Yeltsin is interrupted by a report of a battle in Mogadishu with casualties, as many as five United States soldiers dead. Yesterday I was reading and sunning myself while Americans were fighting and dying two miles away. And I didn't even know until CNN told me...

I'm awed and sad and angry. The day before, in a speech we read word for word here, President Clinton said that if we pull out now, "All around the world, aggressors, thugs and terrorists will conclude that the best way to get us to change our policies is to kill our people. It would be open season on Americans." But then he announced that we would pull out by March. Which is it?

The article goes on to discuss the disasters that occurred after the US pulled out, and Cain concludes his article:

While American foreign policy is activist once again, it is an activism driven by the war on terror. In places like Liberia, where just a few American troops could have saved thousands of lives, the United States remains reluctant to intervene, haunted still by the ghosts of Oct. 3.

On a somewhat related note, I was watching an interview with a fairly prestigious Iraqi doctor the other night. He said that because he was a doctor he always thinks in medical terms, and this was his view of American occupation of Iraq: If you had to have surgery, would you want the doctor to stop half way through and go play a game of golf or take a lunch break? Of course not, but when he's done, you want him to stitch you up, pack up and go home.


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