It’s rare that I ever go to USA TODAY for my headlines. It is, more or less, the Dane Cook of news reporting. But what the hell. So far this morning they’re the only ones really carrying this story in any detail so let’s give the quiet, not entirely bright kid at the back of the class the chance to come up to the blackboard and make an ass out of himself.

“The Obama administration sought to assure aid groups Tuesday that they can deliver desperately needed food to famine-stricken parts of Somalia without fear of prosecution, even if some assistance is diverted to al-Qaida linked extremists blamed for helping deliver hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of starvation.

Administration officials said the U.S. has issued new guidelines on laws prohibiting material assistance to al-Shabab, which have been criticized by humanitarian organizations as a contributing factor the crisis. Charities must only pledge their best efforts to combat attempts by al-Shabab to hoard aid or collect taxes on supplies, they said.

The officials said the focus now should be on getting food to those in need as fast as possible. While some al-Shabab officials have suggested that relief groups are welcome to return, one official said it was unlikely that any “grand bargain” could be struck that would open up all of Somalia for operations with U.S. government-funded aid. Targeted, piecemeal interventions are more likely, directed toward areas where the level of security and acquiescence of local authorities is deemed acceptable.”

Al-Shabab, while sounding like a guy who makes falafel on a street corner somewhere, is actually the Al-Qaeda backed militant Islamic group currently wreaking havoc across the country. But hey, they pledged. And nobody can go back on a pledge without having their pants burst into flames. This plan is flawless.

Look, I know I come off as a pretty cruel guy sometimes. And I make light of a great many things. But, even I don’t like the idea of people starving to death. America is the light in a very dark world and I really wish we could get our shit together so we could actually help people in this kind of situation.

You know what I also don’t like? Wasting our time and money. And the lives of our soldiers. If any of this sounds familiar that’s because we’ve seen this movie before and pretty much walked out because it sucked.

“In September 1991, severe fighting broke out in Mogadishu, which continued in the following months and spread throughout the country, with over 20,000 people killed or injured by the end of the year. These wars led to the destruction of the agriculture of Somalia, which in turn led to starvation in large parts of the country. The international community began to send food supplies to halt the starvation, but vast amounts of food were hijacked and brought to local clan leaders, who routinely exchanged it with other countries for weapons. An estimated 80 percent of the food was stolen. These factors led to even more starvation, from which an estimated 300,000 people died and another 1.5 million people suffered between 1991 and 1992.” – WIKIPEDIA

To respond to this we began “piecemeal interventions” which resulted in the “Battle of Mogadishu”. This was the bloodiest U.S. Military ground conflict since the Vietnam War and resulted in the deaths of 17 U.S. Soldiers as well as dead American servicemen being dragged through the streets by cheering Somalis. These events were later depicted in the book and movie BLACK HAWK DOWN.

We need to take a long hard look at Somalia because in about ten years this is what Mexico is going to look like unless we do something. It’s the fucking wild west over there. They haven’t even had a government for the last 20 years. Just a bunch of strung out teenagers with automatic weapons roaming the streets. Which is part of the problem because food and other aid is usually used to buy more weapons. So perhaps we should exchange food for guns. Perhaps we should require more than a pledge. Perhaps we should get serious and try something, anything, different this time.

You can’t build nations. It doesn’t work. But, you can empower people to overcome the shitty conditions they live in and take control of their own destiny. And most of the people in Somalia are not our enemies. And if we don’t do it right this time, well, I guess Ridley Scott is going to be making another fucking movie.


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