Bush's noble, albeit incomplete, plan to help

MIKE ROYKO

December 21, 1992|By MIKE ROYKO

George Bush's heart was in the right place when he decided to send Marines to Somalia. It's a terrible sight, all those gaunt, starving women and children on TV.

The question is, where was Bush's brain?

Yes, it is tragic that there is famine in Somalia, with murderous, extortionist thugs harassing the relief workers and stealing the food.

And it must have warmed the hearts of millions when our Marines landed and many of the gunmen went running off into the countryside.

Our pride will grow even more when we see scenes on TV of our troops being cheered by bedraggled Somalis and the food trucks finally reaching those in need. Then what?

Maybe Bush didn't give any thought to the "then what" part of this drama. Since he'll soon be moving to Texas, he won't have to deal with the "then what" problem.

All he has said is that the Marines will go in, get the food supply moving, then they'll leave. Maybe next month.

If that's what happens, then it will have been a tragic waste of time and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sure, we'll have made it possible for some people to be fed. We'll have saved some lives. At least for the moment. But they'll probably die after we leave.

Just because the looters and killers have dropped out of sight doesn't mean they have given up their nasty ways and are now going to enroll in computer school.

They still have their weapons. And not a bunch of peashooter Saturday night specials, either. They're probably as well-armed as our Marines. They still belong to their clans, subclans, tribes, gangs and feuding families.

So as soon as we're gone, they're going to be back in business, fighting their tribal power wars and grabbing something of value, which in that pathetic country means food.

The babbling mouths at the United Nations have the answer: The Marines should disarm them.

No offense meant, but are those U.N. characters nuts?

We are outgunned. While 25,000 Marines is an impressive force, there are hundreds of thousands of weapons in Somalia.

This isn't a western movie, with the fast-draw new marshal telling the saloon riffraff to check their guns at the door. Thousands of these guns are in the hands of young men who have killed and would be willing to kill again. We know that we are the greatest superpower on Earth. But those Somali gunslingers might not be impressed. The Viet Cong sure weren't.

So if the U.N. wants Somalia to have gun control, I suggest that every delegate who votes "aye" should notify his country to send about 10,000 troops to do the job. Let them put together an army to blast Somalia into peace, tranquility and law and order.

It would take a sizable army to do it. Sure, we could handle it ourselves if we wanted to send over a few more combat divisions and support personnel and accept that we'll have to kill quite a few Somalis and that Somalis will probably kill quite a few Americans.

Then what? Ah, that same dumb, nagging question.

Assuming we have subdued the rival warlords, their followers and all of the free-lance killers, bandits and other belligerents, either by killing them, locking them up, or taking away their weapons, we would then have to decide what we do with Somalia.

We can't declare it a colony, because that's no longer fashionable. If we tried it, half the Third World nations would be furious with us, and the other half would be demanding colonial status for themselves.

So we would have to establish a government that would somehow create stability and prosperity while being kind and good. If we put some fingernail-pulling tyrant in there, we'll be condemned by all the goodness mongers at home and abroad.

Let's say we establish a Somali government that is kind and good. Then we finally leave. And as soon as we got 20 feet offshore, the clans, tribes and subclans would dig up the weapons they've been hiding and would be back at each other's throats.

George Bush has a few weeks left as president. If the spirit of Christmas overwhelms him again, I hope he just pops in a tape and watches "It's a Wonderful Life."

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