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Let France Do It

Presumably invigorated by our resounding successes in nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the editors of the Washington Post have come down in favor of U. S.-led nation-building as the solution for piracy in Somalia:

Last week’s crisis offers the Obama administration an opportunity to avoid perpetuating past errors. No, we aren’t advocating another massive U.N. intervention in the country backed by U.S. troops. As the Bush administration discovered late last year, there is no appetite among America’s European or African allies for such an operation. But what would be possible is a concerted push to strengthen the most recent attempt at a Somali government — a not-unpromising coalition between moderate Islamists and various clan-based factions. The government needs massive economic aid, training and equipment for an army and coast guard, and help in brokering political deals.

A coordinated international effort to build up a Somali government and security forces would cost many billions of dollars and take many years to pay off. It would consume U.S. diplomatic capital and be domestically controversial — like the nation-building missions underway, at last, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is also the only way to end the threats of piracy and terrorism from the Horn of Africa.

I don’t believe the American people have any appetite whatever for new foreign adventures whether they come in the form of “massive U.N. intervention in the country backed by U.S. troops” or a “coordinated international effort to build up a Somali government and security forces”. While I agree that the ultimate solution to the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia is a strong Somali national government, it’s unclear to me under what conditions such a thing might come about and I certainly don’t think that a strong Somali national government is an immediate solution. It will take far too long to bring that about.

The country suffering the most as a consequence of Somali piracy is probably Egypt. Between the global economic slowdown and Somali piracy traffic through the Suez Canal is down 20% from what it was last year at this time. Egypt is highly dependent on the revenues generated by the Canal.

My quick reckoning of sea traffic in the area (and ships that have been harassed by pirates there) suggests that after Egypt the EU would be the primary beneficiary of an end to Somali piracy. So that’s my prescription for nation-building in Somalia: let France do it. Or the EU.

However, I would like to put a question on the floor. What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?

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About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Seriously, we should just go in there and bomb the place to bits. Sure, some of the pirates will survive, but if we just continue to drop 50 megaton bombs on the place they will either a) get the message or b) have other things to worry about aside from pirating.

    Unfortunately, Obama is going to be all Iowa-gay and do nothing.

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  2. Drew says:

    “What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?”

    The Post has already given you the answer…..if The One does it, its country building – and good -if Bush…..not so much.

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  3. As I mentioned in my own blog, nation building in Somalia may be part of the long term answer to this problem. But it’s long term, at best. Given the inherent difficulty, we have to find short and medium term solutions as well, as a stable functioning government isn’t likely to just pop into being overnight in Somalia. Indeed, it could conceivably take a generation or more to establish.

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  4. PD Shaw says:

    What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?

    That’s easy: Jus ad bellum.

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  5. sam says:

    [Preemptive strike]

    Bithead petitions Ares, God of War

    Ares: Who’s next?

    Aresan flunky: Bithead of Earth, Your Ferociousness, he seeks…

    Ares: Zeus’s Nutsac!!! That guy again? Wasn’t he just here last week wanting to invade, what was it?

    Aresan flunky: Catalina Island, sire, off the coast of Hollywood. Well, Los Angeles, actually, but…

    Ares: How’d that go?

    Aresan Flunky: In spite of all your aid, sire, not well. Their navagation was off. They attacked Santa Cruz Island some ninety miles to the north and were repulsed by goat herders.

    Ares: Ah, crap. But I guess I should see him. It’s batshit crazoids like him that keep me in ambrosia, you know. Send him in.

    Bithead (bowing low): Hail Ares! Lord of bloodlust, lord of battle, lord of slaughter, lord of…

    Ares: Yeah, yeah. What now?

    Bithead: Oh lord of destruction, I come before you to request your aid in my continuing war against the evils of liberalism, islamism, hightaxism, and democratism. I intend to strike at the heart by attacking Malibu. It is there that the plots are…

    Ares: Wait a minute. Malibu?

    Bithead: Yes, Your Calamitousness, it…

    Ares: Where Pam Anderson lives?

    Bithead: Uh, I think so, sire.

    Ares: That’s a nonstarter.

    Bithead: Eh? I mean, What, sire?

    Ares: Find another place to attack.

    Bithead: But my troops are at the ready. They’re provisioned for 3 days hard combat. We’ve stockpiled cases of spf 30 sunblock and stuff.

    Ares: Find another place.

    Bithead: Ummmm. Santa Barbara?

    Ares: Kathy Ireland lives there.

    Bithead: Martha’s Vineyard?

    Ares: Forget it. Meg Ryan, Carly Simon

    Bithead: Geez, Golly, … How about Fire Island?

    Ares: Fire Island? Don’t you have a summer house there? Bought behind a dummy corporation?

    Bithead (shocked): How’d you find that out?

    Aresan Flunky: The Lord of Vastation has a superb intelligence service.

    Bithead: Sire, I am prepared to make the sacrifice.

    Ares: Hmmm, yes. Sacrifice. Well, you’ll still have the condo in Provincetown. Ok, Fire Island it is. Will you be leading the assault from the rear? (Aside to flunky: Is that the right preposition? Flunky: ‘with’ sir, I believe, ‘with’. Ares: Ok, ‘with’)

    Bithead: Many thanks, oh lord. Bows and scrapes out.

    Ares to flunky: On second thought, the next time that dude shows up, you tell him I’m at a World of Warcraft convention signing autographs. What a pain in the ass.

    Aresan Flunky: Very droll, sire, very droll.

    Ares: Who’s up now?

    Aresan Flunky: Dick Cheney

    Ares: Deadeye Dick. Excellent. Maybe he’s got a new hunting story. That last one was a doozy. Send him in.

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  6. However, I would like to put a question on the floor. What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?

    1. Taxation
    2. Representation.

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  7. tom p says:

    However, I would like to put a question on the floor. What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?

    That is in the eye of the beholder.

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  8. Brett says:

    Good Lord, we’re not trying to solve the “root problem” of Somalian piracy; we just want to minimize its damages while using the route past the Horn of Africa. That calls for the navies to shoot these guys on sight, and since we know where they generally are hiding on shore, following them back to the coast and blasting their boats.

    Sure, the money may draw some of them back to piracy, but pirates are fundamentally about raiding and surviving to keep the spoils. Make the costs high enough for them, and it won’t be worth it; they’ll find some other activity to do.

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  9. Brett says:

    However, I would like to put a question on the floor. What’s the bright line dividing building up a government in a country other than your own and colonialism?

    Colonialism usually involves planning on hanging on to the colony in the long run. Does anyone actually want to hang on to Somalia in the long-run?

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  10. Marie says:

    I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with colonialism.

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  11. Bithead says:

    I won’t even bother commenting on sam’s overworked imagination. He damns his own position far better than anything I could do.

    That said, Austin’s answer seems reasonable.

    But not knowing the answer, I’ll toss this out to the room; Based on what I’m seeing, Egypt seems to me the one to benefit the most from a more stable Somalia, vis a vie the Pirate situation. So, comes the question; How about THEY get involved in the situation directly?

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