All the excitement over Wednesday night’s presidential address on Iraq means little attention is being devoted to the U.S. airstrike on Somalia. Normally, it’s a big deal when the U.S. bombs a country … OK, maybe not always (How many times did the U.S. bomb Iraq in 2002, the year before the war: A. Zero times, B. 10 times, C. 100 times [answer here]). But it’s usually a big deal when the U.S. bombs a country where Americans last recall their sons’ corpses being dragged through the streets.
And with all the talk about escalation in Iraq (er, “surging”), it’s worth noting that Somalia joins a list of at least five countries where the U.S. has engaged in military operations of some type since 9-11 and the launch of the GWOT: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Philippines. In addition, Americans involved in Operation Enduring Freedom have been killed or wounded in Cuba, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan—though those casualties could have been the result of operations to stage attacks on Iraq or the other known combat zones.
Meanwhile, the U.S. alliance with Ethiopia goes un-analyzed. The Somali Islamists were apparently real bastards in imposing Islamic justice. But check out the State Department’s own report on human rights in Ethiopia:
Perhaps after 3,008 dead (that’s the latest count) in Iraq, Americans are just happy to have a nice, clean surgical strike where someone else—maybe even an al Qaeda bigwig—dies.
After all, no one likes casualties, or the administrations that allow them. Back in 1993, in the aftermath of the U.S. deaths in Mogadishu, former President Bush told a classroom: “If you’re going to put somebody else’s son or daughter into harm’s way, into battle, you’ve got to know the answer to three questions: [the mission], … how are they going to do it” and “how they’re going to get out of there.” Dick Cheney also took a shot at the Clinton White House. According to a Times piece at the time, “Mr. Cheney said the Clinton team seemed to be ‘lacking’ in ‘intellectual rigor and tight command and control.'” Thank goodness we all learned from Clinton’s mistakes, eh?