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Why is the US bombing Somalia?
January 9, 2007 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Why is the US bombing Somalia? Salim Lone is the former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq, and a journalist in Kenya. In an interview he discusses possible reasons for the attacks. The recent history of the country is bloody and the country is beset with poverty, and our own history of involvement there is quite ugly.
posted by serazin (75 comments total)

 
Sorry, Salim Lone.
posted by serazin at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2007


Oil-related?
posted by BeerFilter at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2007


Wtf.
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on January 9, 2007


"Why is the US bombing Somalia? "

because we can?

because the president is an idiot?

that's all I've got...
posted by HuronBob at 7:37 PM on January 9, 2007


I didn't vote for it.
posted by jaronson at 7:40 PM on January 9, 2007


"Why is the US bombing Somalia?"

That's a rhetorical question, right? The obvious answer is "Because the U.S. Government is run by a bunch of murdering bastards, and doubtless some of Bush/Cheney's friends are making money by it." Of course there are details to be filled in, niggling little specifics, but given their past performance the broad outlines are easy to fathom. We might as well ask "Why does a bear shit in the woods?"
posted by davy at 7:41 PM on January 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


The far more disturbing question is, why the fuck is the Pentagon crowing about bombing Somalia? If the US wanted to accomplish anything constructive there, I'd assume it would be doing so quietly. Do they actively want the "transitional government" to fail? Or are they just too caught up in back-patting and politicking to actually pay attention?

(Still weirded out by this: After the battle, Yusuf Daba-Ged proclaimed the town of Bedelweyn was liberated and it was again legal to chew khat. A truck filled with khat arriving the next day, on December 26, was met with a burst of cheers.)
posted by phooky at 7:44 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Um, it's not. It launched an airstrike against one group of al-Qaeda fighters and their cohorts. Yes, they were in Somalia. That doesn't mean the US is attacking the country, any more than it was attacking Yemen when it did this.

Also, what part of killing al-Qaeda members is difficult to understand? The motivation? The utility? The methods?
posted by Dasein at 7:47 PM on January 9, 2007


Also, this is a craptacular collection of links. BBC, CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia and IMDB? Are you kidding?
posted by Dasein at 7:50 PM on January 9, 2007


"Somalia? I've heard of it...but nothing's ringing a bell here."

[opens last link]

"Ohhh, okay. Somalia."

/average American
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:55 PM on January 9, 2007


Can't we do better than this for a FPP? I mean linking to Amy Goodman's interview and IMBD; come on, is there anyone here who doesn't check out DN from time time time? Where's the link to the Somali forums who can shed some local flavor on this? Perhaps we can get a more interesting news source than DN. And raise more interesting questions like is Ethopia trying to build it's own greater horn of africa co-prosperity sphere in the Horn of Africa backed by the USA? Is this about oil, or about Bush's crazy evangelical vision of christian dominance over the world.
posted by humanfont at 7:56 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, what part of killing al-Qaeda members is difficult to understand? The motivation? The utility? The methods?

The legality, maybe? News reports are quick to point out that the current government of Somalia (whatever the fuck that means) authorized the strike, but did our congress?
posted by odinsdream at 8:02 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dasein: we are bombing people who were just one month ago in control of much of Somalia, and many Somalis are very upset with the presence of Ethiopian troops on their soil. US involvement, with or without the support of the transitional government, is not going to contribute to stability.

I also have no faith in US intelligence in a country where we have no real allies on the ground. "al-Qaeda" seems to be code for "whoever we just bombed".

but frankly, I don't know enough to be ranting like I am, so I'll crawl back into my hole now.

On preview: Somalinet's been interesting. And humanfront: I had the same thought. Creepy.
posted by phooky at 8:02 PM on January 9, 2007


Dasein: Is this better?

From CBS News:
Attack helicopters strafed suspected al-Qaida fighters in southern Somalia on Tuesday, witnesses said, following two days of airstrikes by U.S. forces _ the first U.S. offensives in the African country since 18 American soldiers were killed here in 1993.
Can't we do better than this for a FPP?

humanfront: Thank you for your contribution, but was the snark really necessary? At least serazin asked the friggin' question?




White House spokesman Tony Snow said the US action was a reminder that there was no safe haven for Islamic militants.

My bullshit detector just went off.
posted by jaronson at 8:04 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the better links re: Somalia.

I'm sure everyone here is capabable of finding the websites I listed, but unfortunately, most of us are probably in need of some Somalia 101. In any case, I'm glad for people to add more useful sites.
posted by serazin at 8:11 PM on January 9, 2007


I think the bombing is easy as reading the news, they found a group of KNOWN terrorists. The US has already said it will go after the al-Qaida anywhere. Now if you read the British news, it also states that the islamic forces did have ties with known terrorists, and had some of them at the location. Unless I'm wrong with my belief, the al-qaida are the only ones we should be attacking, so maybe instead of US bashing, maybe "Wow they attacked a legitimate target for once!"
posted by IronWolve at 8:13 PM on January 9, 2007


I'd pay money to have someone ask Snow, "Why should we trust you?"
posted by edgeways at 8:17 PM on January 9, 2007


Does this mean they'll be making a sequel, then?

But seriously, folks. I had no idea this was going on until yesterday when somebody posted a fpp about us sending AC-130's over there (it got deleted). I had somehow missed it on the news and on the blue.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:24 PM on January 9, 2007


"I think the bombing is easy as reading the news, they found a group of KNOWN terrorists."

I guess you never heard of "INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY"? Or maybe, O IronWolve, you're trying to deflect attention from your WIDELY-KNOWN khat-smuggling ring?

If allegations are the same as proof be glad I didn't call you a KNOWN baby-raper.
posted by davy at 8:25 PM on January 9, 2007


It’s like we have people in the White House who get up every morning and say—how can we fuck up this world even more today?
posted by hadjiboy at 8:29 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


The UN is losing credibility by the day, and the greatest comparison I can draw between what happened in Iraq and what happened in Somalia now is that the UN is once again being used by the United States to give sort of political -- and I call it “political” cover, because people who are fighting don't care about the politics -- give legal cover, so legally some things that are done, if they have the UN imprimatur, can be done under the justification that this is international law. But politically it makes no difference now to those Muslims who know that the UN too often goes along with the US and passes resolutions that have no moral legitimacy. They don’t care if there’s a UN anymore, and that’s why we were all blown up in Baghdad, because no one cares now. The UN is no longer seen as a relatively independent. I mean, UN cannot be independent completely. The US is a huge and mighty power. It would be unwise for the UN to not try to work with it.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:31 PM on January 9, 2007


Credible sources put US ground troops in Kenya on Somalia’s southern border, just in time to confuse the hell out of an electorate that was teetering on the verge of coming to grips with the Iraqi mess.
posted by Huplescat at 8:35 PM on January 9, 2007


I think the bombing is easy as reading the news, they found a group of KNOWN terrorists.

They found WMDs in Iraq, too. Oh, wait...
posted by dirigibleman at 8:39 PM on January 9, 2007


From USA Today
As the Islamic Courts fighters fled, the United States placed the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower off Somalia's coast to help block al-Qaeda fighters from escaping by sea, according to the Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. The carrier joined at least a half-dozen U.S. and British ships in the area that are stopping and searching civilian vessels for terrorist suspects.

Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, a 5th Fleet spokesman, said aircraft from the Eisenhower have flown intelligence-gathering missions over Somalia. The 60 planes aboard the Eisenhower include E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, which carry sophisticated radar and other sensors used to track enemy movements and direct U.S. attacks.

The AC-130 gunship used in Monday's airstrikes is too big to land on an aircraft carrier. A modified version of the propeller-driven C-130 cargo plane, the gunship carries weaponry that includes a 105mm howitzer, a 40mm cannon and a 25mm gun capable of firing 30 rounds a second. [My emphasis.]
posted by jaronson at 8:46 PM on January 9, 2007


Why is the US bombing Somalia?

We're retaliating for the embassy bombings seven and a half years ago. Bin Laden is toast in 2009.

That Bush is giving a speech tomorrow is a total coincidence.
posted by homunculus at 8:49 PM on January 9, 2007


SNOW: there was no safe haven for Islamic militants

Except Iraq.

You guys this action is the sort of thing the SHOULD be doing rather than occupying Iraq. The problem is we have no credibility anymore. So even if there was solid proof for this action... nobody would believe it anyway.
posted by tkchrist at 8:51 PM on January 9, 2007


Related headlines from allafrica.com:

Somalia: American Air Strikes Kill At Least 27 Civilians
Fighting Halts Effort to Verify Deadly Fever
Secretary-General Ban Concerned Over Humanitarian Impact of US Air Strikes

Also, an interesting overview the state of Africa today from Africa Sun News.
posted by malocchio at 8:53 PM on January 9, 2007


Incidentally, you can land a C-130 on an aircraft carrier, but it isn't really practical.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:55 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Also, what part of killing al-Qaeda members is difficult to understand? "

The part where it's a lie, but gets lapped up like it's the sweet, sweet nectar of freedom by idiots who believe what their government tells them.
The truth is already leaking out, and you will be proven a fool.
posted by 2sheets at 9:08 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dasein writes "It launched an airstrike against one group of al-Qaeda fighters and their cohorts. Yes, they were in Somalia. That doesn't mean the US is attacking the country, any more than it was attacking Yemen when it did this.

"Also, what part of killing al-Qaeda members is difficult to understand? The motivation? The utility? The methods?"


Smeg, I'm glad those wankers in Toronto last year were only inspired by Al-Queda and not actually Al-Queda.
posted by Mitheral at 9:10 PM on January 9, 2007


The unelected "transitional government" of Somalia has no popular support; expect guerilla attacks against it to continue indefinitely. You are bombing Somalia to scare people into buckling down and accepting the pro-US/Ethiopian government.
posted by stammer at 9:26 PM on January 9, 2007


Wow, I never thought George Bush would be taking cues from the Bill Clinton military handbook, but there you go.
The "we're not really bombing your country, just people who happen to be in it" bit is bullshit, and sane Americans and ordinary Somalis know it. It's still bombs falling on your country. It's still collateral damage.

The legality, maybe? News reports are quick to point out that the current government of Somalia (whatever the fuck that means) authorized the strike, but did our congress?

Congress's approval is not needed. Commander in chief, and all that. As eloquently stated today by Senator Kennedy, Congress checks the military power of the president by conditioning the appropriation of funds. If you want our government to stop bombing other people's countries, just take a shitload of Nyquil and wake up on 1/20/09. I'm strongly considering this myself.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:35 PM on January 9, 2007


The AC-130 gunship used in Monday's airstrikes is too big to land on an aircraft carrier.

Well duh. It's no secret that we have a large military presence in Djibouti. The news story I read (not the linked BBC article) even showed one of those big 1000-mile arrows leading from Djibouti to southern Somalia.

I'm not very troubled by this -- as tkchrist says, this is the real war on terror. Of course he's also right that the WH has no shred of credibility left, and naturally anything Snow says reveals him to be an ass (although of a more refined sort than Scotty, and a less slimy sort than Ari).

Now, one can argue that this is not a smart idea in terms of winning hearts & minds in Somalia (though I'm unsure that's any part of our goals). Certainly with any use of air power the risk of civilian deaths (however murky the term "civilian" may be in a mass uprising) does go up.

But the transitional government is the product of several years of diplomacy and is recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Somalia. They've been unable to exert any of that control. Whether this action is ultimately going to help them in that end is uncertain. But I don't think that anybody can say that it was an illegal invasion of the country if it was in concert with the legal government.

Also, as far as the US is concerned, the President is the Commander in Chief, and there is no requirement for involving Congress before taking military action. Under the War Powers Act the Executive must notify Congress and there's that 60-day window if troops are in country, but this will probably be (or was) a briefing of paper-airplane proportions. As for authorization, this is probably covered by the CIA-related executive orders.

Even the argument about targeted killing made by Lone is a valid philosophical position, but one that has to date not seen any real backing in the implementation of international law.

Now, looking at overall US strategy, back in June we actually offered to make a deal with the Islamic Courts if they handed over these guys (yes, yes, that opens up the whole extraordinary rendition can'o'worms). At the same time we were throwing money at the warlords, who proved rather feckless in the face of the popular movement (basically because they are bandits and street gangs, not guerrillas). One can see this as a failed strategy, or as a bargaining chip. In any case, it's the bag we threw our money into. So the real question from this point is how much we're interested in maintaining our allied warlords insofar as that borks the necessity of the transitional government. If they can't keep power except with Ethiopian tanks, they'll never achieve popular support. In that event, our support for the local warlords could prove advantageous again.

It probably won't be in the interest of peace and stability for the Somali people in the most neutral sense, because we're probably going to maintain a presence -- even just an eye in the sky -- to keep the ICU or any successor organizations from regaining power.
posted by dhartung at 9:37 PM on January 9, 2007


Also, as far as the US is concerned, the President is the Commander in Chief, and there is no requirement for involving Congress before taking military action.
This issue has only been settled as a matter of congress has never been upset enough about the military action the President has taken to do anything about it. Should congress one day decide that the war powers reserved for it in the constitution legally require the President to get consent of Congress before going to war; they could impeach the President and remove the President from office. While this might trigger a serious crisis with the military choosing sides and ending the republic; it is an option which exists for the Congress. The precident has been that before engaging in major military actions such as this; the President calls the majority and minority party leadership (plus intel commitee) and informs them of what is going on. I imagine this happened in this case, but it isn't reported because it's routine and no one has asked about it. If it didn't happen you can be sure it will show up on blogs soonish.
posted by humanfont at 10:02 PM on January 9, 2007


Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:02 PM on January 9, 2007


Kang, Kodos, they're two sides of the same coin. I voted for Darth Nader.
posted by tehloki at 10:10 PM on January 9, 2007


Don't blame me, I'm all for drastic regime change. To quote an old graffito from years ago, "U.S. out of North America!"
posted by davy at 10:22 PM on January 9, 2007


Don't blame me, I'm all for drastic regime change. To quote an old graffito from years ago, "U.S. out of North America!"
posted by davy at 10:25 PM on January 9, 2007


(Sorry that got posted twice. This stout is 10.6% by volume. Please delete one, and maybe this too.)
posted by davy at 10:26 PM on January 9, 2007


Don't you always feel dirty posting a third time to apologize for a double post? I just wait a few weeks and then apologize in a 0-comment askmefi thread.
posted by tehloki at 10:33 PM on January 9, 2007


Never apologize, it just makes you look weak and unpatriotic.
posted by homunculus at 11:26 PM on January 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, as far as the US is concerned, the President is the Commander in Chief, and there is no requirement for involving Congress before taking military action.

It goes a bit further than that:

Tony Snow:
Q Do the Democrats or any of the opponents have the executive authority to stop anything that the President is going to present? In other words, is he going to need to ask Congress to approve something?

MR. SNOW: Well, ultimately, anything you do has budgetary implications. I think there was a question earlier today, are we seeking resolutions, and that sort of thing — and I want to wave you off of that. What you do have, though, is basically budget is policy. So Congress is going to be engaged in the appropriations and authorization process and, you know, through those, they’re going to be debating a lot of things. And so that’s sort of par for the course.

Q But in terms of anything out of the Pentagon — the troops, deployment, any of the programs we initiate - the President, alone, has the authority to –

MR. SNOW: You know what, I don’t want to play junior constitutional lawyer on this, so let’s wait until we see what happens, if you have specific questions about constitutional authority. But, you know, Congress has the power of the purse. The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way.
If Nixon felt Congress would have voted the wrong way on impeachment, could he just stay in office?

And on preview, what humanfont said.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:36 AM on January 10, 2007


But the transitional government is the product of several years of diplomacy and is recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Somalia. They've been unable to exert any of that control.

They've been unable to exert that control because everybody hates them; if they strayed outside of their compounds in Mogadishu people would have killed them. The Khmer Rouge were also recognised by the UN as the legitimate government of Cambodia, even years after they were overthrown - mainly thanks to US and UK pressure. UN recognition doesn't make you the good guys.
posted by stammer at 1:06 AM on January 10, 2007


/me savors customary morning cup of coffee while pondering phooky being weirded out about people celebrating the resumption of qat supply
posted by pax digita at 4:16 AM on January 10, 2007


Kang, Kodos, they're two sides of the same coin.

HOLY FLURKING SCHNIT!
posted by quonsar at 4:25 AM on January 10, 2007


The unelected "transitional government" of Somalia has no popular support

They've been unable to exert that control because everybody hates them

Source for this? This week's Economist says the Islamic militants overestimated their support and overplayed their hand. As such, non-hardliners who were willing to negotiate have stayed out of the fighting. I like that the blind hatred of the current US administration means all actions are incorrect until proven otherwise and that Somalia == Iraq.
posted by yerfatma at 4:46 AM on January 10, 2007


This is all just more ammo for the Muslim extremist crowd who can once again point out how the US will go anywhere and do anything to keep oppressing Muslims. Just like the invasion of Iraq, or the support for India's nuclear ambitions (but not Pakistan's), etc.

One of the "guffaw" moments for me in State of Denial was when the idea was floated around -- and reportedly considered by many -- to put Wolfowitz in charge of the CPA in Baghdad (back when they still hadn't decided on Brehmer). When I read that I asked myself whether the Administration hadn't in fact decided to go ahead and make what bin Laden was saying about the US into reality -- how the US was out to oppress muslims and "spread zionist rule across the middle east"...
posted by clevershark at 4:52 AM on January 10, 2007


It certainly appears to me that the primary thrust of the gunship attacks in Somalia is to wipe out the leadership of the Islamic Courts based on the pretext that al Qaeda leaders are being sheltered by them. An AC-130 gunship is not a vehicle for "targeted assasination."

Bottom line: Regime Change City. The US, with the capable (and heavily subsidized) assistance of Ethiopian troops, has overthrown the Islamists in Somalia. Only the passage of time will disclose how big an addtional investment in faith-based chaos has been made with your tax dollars. But we have made Mogadishu safe for khat heads, y'all!
posted by rdone at 5:10 AM on January 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


What gets me is that nobody ever mentions Somaliland in discussions of Somalia; it's been de facto independent for 15 years, it seems to be doing a hell of a lot better in just about every respect than the "official" country, and yet everybody seems to be tacitly waiting for the "official" government, however crazed and useless, to take it over so the situation will be regularized and we don't have to worry about redrawing any maps. Sort of like Taiwan, except Somaliland doesn't have any influential defenders.

On topic, we shouldn't be bombing Somalia. Duh.
posted by languagehat at 5:23 AM on January 10, 2007


Why is the US bombing Somalia?

'Cause Bush hates black people, that's why. :-]
posted by nofundy at 5:35 AM on January 10, 2007


yerfatma: I'd say the fact that the government needed Ethiopian troops and US gunships to take the capital city should indicate their level of support. But, anyway, here's the welcome they got when they invaded Mogadishu.

As that article points out, the government is a group of handpicked pro-Western warlords assembled by the UN in Kenya in 2004; they voted for Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the current President, during a ceremony in a Nairobi sports stadium. In November of last year, a car bomber and at least six gunmen attacked his convoy and narrowly missed killing him.

From the interview linked in the FPP: "We have millions of Somalis who live in Kenya. Most of them supported the Islamic Courts Union, because the Islamic Courts Union is very popular throughout Somalia."

And on that airstrike: "My four-year-old boy was killed in the strike," Muhammad Mahmud Burale said by telephone. "The plane was firing at other areas in Ras Kamboni. We could see smoke from the area. We also heard 14 massive explosions."
posted by stammer at 5:36 AM on January 10, 2007


Also, as far as the US is concerned, the President is the Commander in Chief, and there is no requirement for involving Congress before taking military action.

Wanna bet? Why do you think Bush fought so hard for the Iraq AUMF?

Article I, Section 8
The Congress shall have power...

(SNIP)

...To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
The War Powers Act is only in force because of a charade between the White House and Congress. You pretend that you never really use it, and we won't go to the Supreme Court and get it overturned in an instant.

While we had the Imperial Congress serving His Majesty, Bush had free reign. There is a great deal that the Congress can do to stop this, if they choose.

Of course, I know exactly what will happen. Anything that stops the madness will lose 51-49 in the Senate, thanks to Joe Fucking Lieberman.
posted by eriko at 5:47 AM on January 10, 2007


Yeah, I think the War Powers Resolution is pretty much a dead issue, absent the US attacking the Vatican or something similarly crazy. From this Wikipedia page: "On December 20th, 2005, ABC News reported that vice-president Dick Cheney had described the War Powers Resolution as an "infringement on the authority of the president."
posted by pax digita at 7:03 AM on January 10, 2007


okay, someone tell me where i'm going wrong here: the constitutional side of this is that magical "commander in chief" powers only come into effect once congress has declared war. only congress, constitutionally, has the power to declare war. if congress has declared war, then the president is empowered to prosecute that war on congress (and presumably, the people's) behalf, but it's reasonable to assume his authority to prosecute the war derives from the initial declaration of war by congress (that's checks and balances for you), so you'd think congress would also have the power to revoke the authority, but for some reason, people seem to think they don't, because the war on terror is a different kind of war--one in which there are no prisoners of war, nor any clear success criteria... is an authorization for the use of military force the same thing as declaration of war? and yeah. what's up with how al qaeda alway just seems to pop up wherever the US also happens to have unrelated strategic interests that alone don't justify military action? i'm so confused. it sounds to me like the president under current formulations has absolute power... and while i may be no constitutional scholar, i KNOW that shit ain't right.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2007


Apparently it's "official": they got Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, believed leader and key player in the 1998 embassy bombings.
posted by Martin E. at 8:15 AM on January 10, 2007


"It certainly appears to me that the primary thrust of the gunship attacks in Somalia is to wipe out the leadership of the Islamic Courts based on the pretext that al Qaeda leaders are being sheltered by them. "

Thank god somebody gets it.
Actually I think a lot of the war pigs know this, but as long as we're killing those nasty muslims any cover story will do.
posted by 2sheets at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2007


There's this terrorist guy from Texas, got caught with a very large cyanide bomb, who's hiding out in a minimum security cell. Can we bomb him too?
posted by nofundy at 8:57 AM on January 10, 2007


Ok, I'll wade in.

We have an AC-130 gunship in the area largely as covering. Our real purpose is to move a fairly sizable collection of ships where they can be quickly moved to the Strait of Hormuz region, in order to provide air support for the troops that will invade Iran.

Y'know, the ones that were supposedly in the area simply to aid and assist the Iraqi forces in the whole 'surge' thing.
posted by eclectist at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2007


I have my CIA map of the world out. I'm starting a pool on the next country to invite us to begin bombing them.
posted by notreally at 9:22 AM on January 10, 2007


The War Powers Act is only in force because of a charade between the White House and Congress. You pretend that you never really use it, and we won't go to the Supreme Court and get it overturned in an instant.

eriko, I've been saying this (including on MeFi) for years. But are you really saying that this Congress is going to challenge this President? With the adjudicator this Supreme Court?

Anyway, your point seems to be that the AUMF gives the executive special capabilities, and that's true. But look at history. What single President -- name one -- has not taken unilateral military action when he deemed it necessary?

is an authorization for the use of military force the same thing as declaration of war?

According to incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Biden, yes.

This isn't new to the war on terror. The War Powers Act/Resolution (depending on view) only came about in the first place because a President was taking unilateral military action in the absence of a declaration of war.

See my longer answer here.

Yeah, I think the War Powers Resolution is pretty much a dead issue

What Cheney says is one thing. But the WPA (or R) is the legislative basis for the AUMF, and he knows it. All Presidents -- all -- have treated the Act as a formalism and complied only with the reporting requirements. But here, when they needed the special powers that only Congress could give, they went to the Hill.

UN recognition doesn't make you the good guys.

I didn't say they were. Are there good guys here? Outside of Somaliland (and don't forget Puntland), hard to tell. In any case, bad form to compare them to the Khmer Rouge. The point was to legality.
posted by dhartung at 9:25 AM on January 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey, maybe it's just a dry run for our invasion of Darfur.
posted by drstein at 9:48 AM on January 10, 2007


An AC-130 is not a helicopter (I keep seeing this reported as helicopter gun ships doing the attacking, what's up with that? From my limited understanding of combat air support, using helicopters here seems to make very little sense, due their low speed, low altitude, and short range. As that nice bit of drek BlackHawk Down reminded us, helicopter gunships are rather susceptible to RPG attack in an urban area).

Further, an AC-130 doesn't really bomb so much as turn a city block into swiss cheese, killing everything in the area (it uses shells, from what I remember, but maybe it can drop bombs too).

We may have gotten some real bad guys. We also killed a shit-load of civilians.

An AC-130 is one of the nastiest things we have when it comes to urban warfare and air support, and it kills mercilessly, indiscriminately, and in huge numbers. If used anywhere remotely urban, it stained the ground red with blood, innocent and not so innocent alike.

Sure hope we know what we're doing.

I wonder how America would feel if Germany used an AC-130 to wipe out some nasty neo-Nazis in Idaho, killing a few hundred innocent Idahoans in the process? The neo-Nazis had it coming, and Germany wasn't attacking America, just some bad guys who happen to be in America.

Ponder that question for awhile before you mindlessly parrot the "we were just getting the terrorists, as is our right" idea that passes as OK without examination in the American government and on the US news media.
posted by teece at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2007


Nope, the AC-130 doesn't drop bombs; rather, it fires bullets (if you can call a 105mm howitzer round a bullet).
posted by teece at 10:01 AM on January 10, 2007


"Why are we shelling Somalia?"
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2007


An AC-130 is one of the nastiest things we have when it comes to urban warfare and air support, and it kills mercilessly, indiscriminately, and in huge numbers.

That's completely wrong. The planes actually have quite advanced fire-control systems that allow extremely accurate fire. Yes, they're very powerful, but they're absolutely not indiscriminate.

BTW, the helicopter gunships that are being referred to in some article are, I think, Ethiopian.
posted by Dasein at 10:08 AM on January 10, 2007


Yes, they're very powerful, but they're absolutely not indiscriminate.

Absolute bullshit.

Google around for troop accounts of what the area is like where they've unleashed their fury.

They have extremely accurate fire control systems. Those systems get the bullets to kill the bad guy effectively. That's their job. Their job is not to save innocents.

That's a major conceit America has bought into with its smart bombs and whatnot.

Every round an AC-130 fires can and will go through the walls of a building with ease. Some of them could go through the walls of buildings for an entire city block. In an urban area, many civilians will die wherever this aircraft is used, unless that area is completely devoid of civilians. (I don't know if the AC-130 is better or worse than smart bombing, which will a shit-load of civilians too, but that is neither here nor there).

This is not at all a discriminate weapon, unless you mean discriminate compared to a MOAB or a tactical nuke.
posted by teece at 10:15 AM on January 10, 2007


"Yes, they're very powerful, but they're absolutely not indiscriminate."

So we slaughtered all those civilians on purpose?
Well they were probably muslims, so praise the lord.
posted by 2sheets at 10:19 AM on January 10, 2007


AC-130 very nasty. Thank you teece. US denies any recent airstrikes.
posted by adamvasco at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2007


But are you really saying that this Congress is going to challenge this President?

Yeah, I forgot that I live in the real world. The Dems will talk, but they'll fork over the cash when the time comes.

We're already sending another 20K troops to Iraq, we're attacking Somalia, and the fact that CENTCOM is now headed by an Admiral is a strong sign that we'll be bombing Iran before the year is out.

Nothing is going to change.
posted by eriko at 10:32 AM on January 10, 2007


Ponder that question for awhile before you mindlessly parrot the "we were just getting the terrorists, as is our right" idea that passes as OK without examination in the American government and on the US news media.

But don't you get it, son? we're at war with friggin' Cthulhu! This war will only end when the terror ends! And since new terrorists pop up like toadstools in the "fog of war," we'll be at war forever! In fact, glory to the eternal war! Long live the noble warriors! Curses on the pathetic, weak vermin crushed under our warrior's heels! Victory is ours! (Oh yeah, except we've only got about 30 years left to wallow in our "victory" if we don't refocus our attention on those pesky environmental problems of ours over the next 10 years, but you know what? On second thought--forget about it! Let's just keep up the good work of doing ourselves in, so misanthropists like me can at least take some small comfort in knowing the whole sorry mess will be over soon enough, one way or the other...) Pah. To quote the esteemed mr. cummings: "Humanity: I hate you."

/unhinged rant
posted by saulgoodman at 10:35 AM on January 10, 2007


Why is the US bombing Somalia?

Well, see, some rotten bastards bombed a whole lot of civvies trying to get at some American's hiding in embassies they feel are guilty. The US, in moral outrage, is returning the favor. If history is any indication, they will not stop returning the favor until they have payed it back at least an order of magnitude stronger.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:43 PM on January 10, 2007


Because George Bush enjoy's killing people? And not just black/brown people. He's not too fond of poor white Americans either.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:59 PM on January 10, 2007


From the AP tonight:

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Ethiopia's prime minister said Wednesday the U.S. military targeted 20 high-level members of an Islamic movement linked to al-Qaida in an airstrike this week in southern Somalia, attacking quickly before the Islamists could escape.

QED.
posted by rdone at 3:04 PM on January 10, 2007


I like that the blind hatred of the current US administration

It's not blind. If you, after six years of this administration, can actually take anything they say at face value, then you are blind.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:30 PM on January 10, 2007


And as the thread dies, the truth comes out.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
And I don't have a problem at this point saying I told you so.
posted by 2sheets at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2007


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