Expanding The Drone War In Somalia

The answer to all our problems?Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr./US Air Force photo

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Responding to the news that the Obama administration intends to increase its use of drone strikes in Somalia, my colleague Kevin Drum shrugged “endless war becomes more endless.” It’s worth remembering though, how Somalia became such an prominent part of America’s global battlefield. 

Al Shabab, the Somali-based al Qaeda affiliate whose remarkable success in recruiting American citizens has frustated law enforcement officials, emerged in its current form only after 2006, in the aftermath of a Bush administration-backed Ethiopian invasion meant to displace the Islamic Courts Union. That intervention merely destabilized Somalia further and empowered Al Shabab. The government that succeeded the relatively stable ICU ended up being run by a former ICU member anyway, and Al Shabab ended up controlling much of the country. So all the Bush-backed intervention did was make things exponentially worse. 

As Jeremy Scahill reported in August, however, that wasn’t even the beginning of the cycle. The ICU, which was displaced because the Bush administration feared that their Islamism would align them with al Qaeda, emerged as a response to American-backed warlords who were targeting and killing suspected Islamic militants for money in the hopes of ever-more lucrative American sponsorship.

Somalia is being devastated by a terrible famine afflicting the region, but the expansion of the drone war suggests that US policymakers still see the country much as it did five years ago—as little more than a security problem that can be solved by the targeted application of violence. History suggests otherwise, and not just in Somalia. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

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Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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