Monday, April 20, 2009

Bandaiding Won't Work in Somalia

The "Somali Government," which I shall now and for probably a long time refer to only with sneer quotes, has requested a big chunk of international funding to create a Navy. How quaint.

There are probably a lot of folks in the international community that would like to throw some money at this problem and be assured that it will go away. It won't. And anybody that thinks it will is a fool looking to throw money away.

Somalia is in anarchy. Its government exists only by name--it has no influence. It was propped up briefly by the Ethiopians with the support of the West, but as soon as the Ethiopians left, Mogadishu was overrun by the Union of Islamic Courts, a group that the Ethiopians thought they had finished off a few years ago.Some work has been done to regain some bit of administrative control over some of Somalia by the Western-supported government, but to the south, Islamic militants reign. Puntland and Somaliland to the north are essentially autonomous. And the small swath of land administered by the Somali government is one that is highly unstable, highly variable, and full of citizens with very little national identification or loyalty.

Frankly, how can money create a competent Navy? It takes much more than steel, guns, and technology to get a Navy working in a way that can fight piracy. If a Navy is to fight an internal menace, then some internal control is necessary. Some internal intelligence is critical. And even if that is achieved, years of training are necessary to create well-trianed sailors that can competently hunt and destroy the pirates.

It might probably even be cheaper to send a UN-approved force to whack the Somali pirates in their dens, then to throw a bunch of money at a Somali Navy that will not exist for a very long time, if at all. Trying to outsource this problem is a fool's errand.
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