Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Somalia Deteriorates (Again)
The news out of Somalia is again grim. The Islamist groups, capitalizing on the incompetence and inability of the government to do anything and its unwillingness to try to give a broad swath of the population a true stake in the government, are on the rise. The government's already-weak support is evaporating.

Al Qaeda-linked groups are now working to seize the moment, reportedly naming Afghan-trained Aden Hashi Ayro as its new leader.

The fighting in Mogadishu is escalating, as the Washington Post reports. The trickle of African Union troops and the lingering presence of the Ethiopian military is unlikely to change the equation much.

The reason is simple, and has been shown in Afghanistan, northern Nigeria, Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere. The Islamists prosper by offering what others cannot or will not deliver: security and a chance to live normal lives. I witnessed this in Medellin, Colombia, where death squads of the ELN guerrillas were welcomed into neighborhoods because they were willing to execute the drug traffickers and make the streets safe.

It never lasts long, but desperation and the lack of alternatives moves people to accept the unacceptable. The Taliban, ELN and UIC in Somalia all quickly showed their true colors by imposing a rule of law that precluded independent thought and action. The cost of law and order became almost as onerous as the cost of anarchy.

But the sad inability of the government, international community, regional powers et al to help provide the same benefits as the Islamists without the same cost is the life breath of the Islamist (or Marxist or fascist) movements.

The situation in Somalia was developing for years. There was time to put together a plan for what do to immediately after the UIC was ousted. But no such plan was put together, no such resources committed. Now we pay the price.

The Islamists, with their known downside, are again being increasingly viewed as better than the alternative. That is a sad, sad comment on how, despite all the rhetoric about fighting Islamists through means other than purely military, so little has been learned.
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