Americans have a very difficult time relating to other countries. I’m not talking about our politicians, although they are affected as well. The average citizen seems to have a brain-lock and can only imagine other nations as some version of our own country. It’s as if the entire world is just a suburb of America. The bulk of the problem is that few Americans travel broadly, and therefore have no real frame of reference. That week you spent in Italy, or the vacation to the coast of Mexico doesn’t count. American’s insulate themselves in the comfortable areas, surrounded by comfortable things, and haven’t taken the time to really get to know another country.
The other part of the problem is our complete lack of an honest teaching of World History. Past seventh grade Social Studies, or tenth grade World History, most of us don’t give a second thought to our own history – much less that of other countries.
Our Media is no better, and twists every extra-national story until it fits with the American view of the world. We might briefly take notice of suffering or conflict in other areas, but only in passing, like we’re viewing a fender-bender on some heavily traveled road. “Oh wow, that looks bad,” we might say to a fellow passenger. Perhaps a comment to a store clerk we see later on. Then, poof, it’s out of our heads as we consider what size latte to imbibe.
To say this is a dangerous view would be an understatement. It is even more dangerous when our leaders share it. For the last thirty years, at least, the distinctly rosy American view of the world has pervaded our foreign policy. We have ignored those who actually know what is going on in this country or that – because they lived through it. Our leaders have continually failed to seek information from the “boots on the ground”, and instead allow National Geographic to paint the picture for them. It should be axiomatic that not every problem can be solved by talking. Sometimes giving a gift, or aid, makes things worse. And often, military intervention will have unintended consequences.
No place is more suited to teach this lesson than Somalia. Myself, I am no expert on the country. However, I refuse to learn about it solely from CNN. About all the average American knows is that the pirates sail from there, and it can be dangerous, so they should hide their money when visiting. Those who have been to that country and survived just chuckled. Somalia has been, and will continue to be, a completely failed nation.
If you would ever like to know what anarchy would look like, then Somalia is great. Otherwise, it is no place for anyone to be, especially the pale faced American who came for the beautiful beaches, and a taste for the “out-of-the-ordinary.” It is a place to get yourself killed. There is no real government, and the frail government that exists must work from neighboring Kenya. You will not find handy signs in downtown Mogadishu showing the “Art District” or the location of the nearest Starbucks. It is literally a living hell.
Islamic forces battle nationalist forces. Clans fight each other. The U.N. impotently tries to keep peace, but can merely keep peace in their own compound and listen to the sound of gunfire. All for one thing – control of the country. Helping any “side” is taken as a threat to the other factions. In their minds, everyone wants to control Somalia – the thought of humanitarian aid for the sake of helping the people is completely foreign to them. This country has never seen peace. It has never seen prosperity. And we simply have no frame of reference for that kind of life.
Any attempt to “fix” the problem will be received as either hostile or cowardly. It is really that simple. Sending Hilary Clinton will not help, you would literally be better off sending in a sixth grader to fix a nuclear power plant. There is no one in control to negotiate with, there is no Somali FBI to go after the pirates, there is no Legislature to pass laws against piracy. As cruel as it sounds, there are only two options for Somalia: One – Let the country complete it’s collapse, allow it to turn into an Islamic State run by Sharia Law then deal with it after it becomes a stable nation…in about 40-50 years. Two – A complete military take over of the country. Not setting up a base, or sending patrols, I mean a wipe-out-anyone-with-a-gun take over and make Somalia the 51st State.
There is no third solution, but it is doubtful that the Obama Administration will heed my warnings. Personally, I do not want Somalia to become part of our Union. So, dealing with the Pirates can only be done in one way – deterrence. Defend what you have, let Somalia sort itself out.