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Why Somalia would make Afghanistan seem like Mr. Rogers' neighborhood for US troops

Sunday's Uganda bombings show that the threat of Somalia's Al Shabab is very serious, so what should the US do about it? The status quo is not working, but if you think Afghanistan is a quagmire, you ain't seen nothing yet.

By Laura SeayGuest blogger / July 14, 2010

Relatives of one of the Uganda bombings victims and hospital staff carry away a body on Tuesday in Uganda's capital, Kampala. Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab group claimed responsibility for the attack – its first outside Somalia – that killed 76 people during the World Cup final on Sunday.

Stephen Wandera/AP


In the light of Sunday's horrific bombings in Kampala, Uganda, it was only a matter of time before proposals for a US-backed invasion and/or bombing of Somalia started popping up, along with less specific calls to do "more." A few thoughts on this:

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Recent posts

  • If everything you know about Somalia you learned from Black Hawk Down, it's probably best that you stop providing commentary. You don't know the territory, you don't understand the political situation there, and it just makes you look ignorant to continue pontificating.
  • If you think Afghanistan is a quagmire, you ain't seen nothing yet. Somalia would make Afghanistan seem like a walk in the park on a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The Al Shabab threat is real and it is very, very serious.

More than seventy people lost their lives on Sunday, and it's likely that more will lose their lives in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and/or Burundi before this is over.

OPINION: Obama musn't meddle in Somalia

Supporting the Somali government will not do much to mitigate the threat from Al Shabab. Let's be clear: Somalia's current, internationally-recognized federal government is a joke. It does not control its own capital city. It operated out of a hotel in Nairobi for several years. It would not exist were it not for the presence of foreign troops and substantial US backing.

As G. Pascal Zachary notes, we are long past due for a reckoning on America's policy vis-a-vis Somalia. The insistence on the part of the Department of Defense, the State Department, and the White House that the best means for stabilizing the situation involves maintaining Somalia's fictional territorial integrity represents the same sort of thinking that got us into a mess there in 1993.

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