Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For a Stronger U.S. Role in Somalia

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

For a Stronger U.S. Role in Somalia

Article excerpt

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead in shaping the New World Order for the 21st century - an order we hope will be safer and more respectful of human life than we've witnessed in this century. What is lacking now is a U.S. foreign policy grounded in consistency and perspective.

We tend to forge our Somalia policy on limited information and immediate gut reaction based on videos from south Mogadishu.

At the risk of appearing insensitive to the loss of American lives in Somalia, the anguish of captive servicemen there, or the unspeakable horror of American bodies being dragged through the streets, we must realize the power of those select images to shape foreign policy.

Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid has succeeded dramatically in exploiting the media to serve his own ends. He's pushing our buttons, and we can't take it. Aidid calls for a cease-fire when, in fact, the United States has all but begged for one. With an announced U.S. pullout date of March 1994, time is on Aidid's side, and he knows it. In Somalia, where I lived for five years, there is a time-honored saying, "You foreigners come and go but Somalia is ours, and we will be here forever."

The activities in south Mogadishu lead us to believe that Somalia is a nation of savage ingrates. Although I can't defend their callous disregard for human life, we must realize that the vicious mob scenes from south Mogadishu represent only Aidid's sub-clan supporters. All other residents have fled, have been killed or have been driven out of south Mogadishu. How often have the media projected the less-dramatic images from north Mogadishu of rallies in support of U.S.-U.N. presence?

Outside the capital, America's humanitarian mission to Somalia has been extremely successful. Not only was food delivered to the starving, but peace has been restored in the countryside. Farmers have returned to their lands and regained self-sufficiency. Prior to America's presence, Aidid's Hawiye clan was in a contest with Darod groups for control of Somalia. Both sides pillaged and plundered the farms and stores of the peaceful Rahanweyn farmers. …

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