Strategic Shortfall: The Somalia Syndrome and the March to 9/11

Strategic Shortfall: The Somalia Syndrome and the March to 9/11

Strategic Shortfall: The Somalia Syndrome and the March to 9/11

Strategic Shortfall: The Somalia Syndrome and the March to 9/11

Synopsis

Contrary to conventional wisdom, this book argues, it was not the 9/11 attacks that transformed the international security environment. Instead, it was 'Somali Syndrome', an aversion to intervening in failed states that began in the wake of the 1993 US/UN action in Somalia.

Excerpt

About a decade ago I was stationed in Qatar as the commander of the U.S. Army pre-positioned equipment site there. In my spare time I wrote a book about my experiences in Somalia as an infantry battalion operations officer during Operation Restore Hope in 1992-93, pecking away at the prodigious rate of about 2-3 pages a week. To my surprise the book was published in early 2001 and received generally favorable reviews (although some reader reviews on Amazon said it was boring compared to Blackhawk Down). That project done, I went on with other things and then 9/11 happened and I went to war … again and again.

I completed my last trip to Afghanistan in September of 2009 and retired from the Army on the last day of that month. I was in my new civilian job for less than a week when I unexpectedly received an e-mail from New Zealand asking if I’d write the foreword for a book by Professor Robert Patman on the international impact of the “Somalia Syndrome.” Feeling humbled and honored, I agreed.

Robert Patman’s book brings back a lot of memories, not all of them pleasant. He has certainly done his research. As a participant in not only Operation Restore Hope, but also operations Desert Thunder I and II and Desert Fox, I can say that his retelling of events is accurate. He has a particularly good eye for the policy decisions that naturally, as a lowly major and lieutenant colonel, at the time I was not involved in. In that sense I can assure the reader that he will find this book wonderfully informative. I certainly learned things I didn’t know, even though I was there.

Robert Patman and I share a belief that 9/11 did not just happen. Rather, 9/11 was the cumulative result of bungled policies, cultural misunderstandings, wishful thinking, and intellectual sloth, both in America and in the rest of the Western world. Partisans in U.S. politics are quick to point fingers at each other, but there’s more than enough blame to go . . .

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