U.S. Can Only Do Harm in Somalia


June 16, 1993|By CARL T. ROWAN

WASHINGTON — Washington.--It began six months ago under the platitudinous code phrase, "Operation Restore Hope," this U.S. military venture to stop the starving, the maiming, the murdering in the pitiable East African nation, Somalia.

It has turned out to be just another "killing field" monstrosity, in which soldiers flying the United Nations flag kill women and children, and tens of thousands of Somalis cry out in hatred of the United States.

I am not bashful about saying that in my column of last Dec. 6, I warned that the United States was entering a dangerous and "entangling alliance" with the United Nations by sending an invasion force into Somalia that much of the world eventually would see, not as humanitarian, but as a murderous Trojan Horse.

On Dec. 9, I wrote: "My unease arises from the fact that it is not just a simple humanitarian operation in which our troops deliver gruel, porridge, even a turkey, to a desert family that is being stalked by death.

The United Nations and the U.S. have political goals, social agendas, arms control aspirations, in this military operation, and I don't know what those agendas are, where the goals coincide, and where they will bring on costs and griefs that we Americans have not foreseen."

The U.N. agenda is now apparent. Officials there, including U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright, are saying that the United Nations is shifting from peacekeeping to "aggressive peace-making."

Thus has the "humanitarian" Operation Restore Hope escalated, or degenerated, into a U.N. crusade to disempower Somali "warlords" and disarm them and all the other gun-toters in Mogadishu and the other urban and rural centers of that country.

The grief is obvious. Somalis who welcomed rice and milk in December find that in June come U.S. AC-130 gunships firing in mind-boggling rapidity thousands of computer-guided 105mm and 40mm artillery shells that destroy property and shatter lives.

When Somali civilians take to the streets to protest these air raids, Pakistani soldiers who have lost 23 comrades to an alleged attack by the warriors of Mohammed Farah Aidid wreak vengeance by killing at least 14 civilians and wounding many more.

Newsmen reported watching injured civilians lying in the streets of Mogadishu, crying for help, only to see Pakistani armored vehicles marked with the huge letters "UN" roll past the terribly wounded without offering help.

Small wonder that some officials of both the U.N. and the U.S. are calling the situation in Somalia "an absolute disaster."

Some things about this mess ought to disturb Americans profoundly. The first is that the United Nations cannot engage in "aggressive peace-making" unless the U.S. provides the gunships that do the bulk of the terrorizing and create a situation where Pakistanis or others can kill with impunity.

When the "peace-makers" become killers, it is the U.S. that the people of Somalia indict, not the U.N.

Second, it galls me that the "aggressive peace-making" and the U.S. military interventions are taking place only where the societies are weak economically and militarily, and the assaults are less risky.

Warriors who are afraid to "make peace" in Bosnia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia can look brave in subduing "warlords" in Somalia.

Can any reader imagine the U.N. and the U.S. combining in a military effort to "make peace" in Northern Ireland? Or intervening militarily to stop neo-Nazis from murdering people of Turkish descent in Germany?

Or moving jointly to disarm the gang members of Los Angeles and the drug peddlers of Washington, D.C.? No!

But a tragedy-scarred little African country can become the perfect place for troubled American politicians to prove that they are not wimps, and for "diplomats" drunk with new United Nations power to try to prove that they really can impose "a new world order."

This U.S.-U.N. alliance was born in hypocrisy, is a promoter of new world lawlessness in which the strong clobber the weak, and is destructive of U.S. prestige and influence.

It is, as I wrote last December, an entangling commitment from which the U.S. must withdraw immediately.

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

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