By George Maynard
If this country, God forbid, were to ever degenerate into chaos, which faction would you support? What if your only two choices were a group of warlords backed by China or a ragtag bunch of fundamentalist Christians? Imagine this hypothetical situation: the warlords have failed to bring any sort of security to the country. Drug use is rampant among their soldiers, the streets are not safe for travel and bandits roam the countryside. The fundamentalist Christian group, meanwhile, has taken over a small section of the country. The area they control is orderly and peaceful. However, they practice strict adherence to the rules of their religion. Homosexuality and getting an abortion are offenses punishable by death. But at the same time, some freedom of speech is allowed, hospitals and schools are opened and the free market flourishes. Which side would you support?
Imagine that the fundamentalist Christians continue to gain popular support and take the country back from the Chinese warlords. The areas under their control enjoy relative peace and prosperity. Then, the plot thickens.
What if China stepped in and said “fundamentalist Christians are bad,” and asked for Russia to intervene on behalf of the warlords? In response, Russia invades the United States and drives the fundamentalist Christians back, killing or capturing thousands of them. The Chinese-backed warlords return to power and the country returns to instability, chaos and outright anarchy. Were China and Russia right to intervene and drive the fundamentalists back?
The reason I ask you this is because such a situation is unfolding halfway around the globe. Somalia has been controlled by American-backed warlords for many years. The warlords have done nothing for the country, and its infrastructure has crumbled. Drugs were openly sold in the streets, and the warlords’ militiamen could take whatever they wanted, rape whomever they wanted and kill whomever they wanted. Earlier this year, the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) took over much of Somalia, driving the warlords back and establishing peace and order throughout the country. Drug dealers were locked away, murderers and rapists were shot and thieves had their hands cut off. Freedom of speech was allowed, and people were able to leave their homes at night without fear of being shot. UIC soldiers were courteous to the local populations and gained their support and trust. Then, the United States intervened.
The U.S. accused the UIC of being affiliated with al Qaeda and made Somalia into another front in the global “War on Terror.” At the behest of the United States and the warlords, Ethiopia, a longtime enemy of Somalia, invaded the country. The Ethiopian army is one of the best-trained and equipped in Africa, so they had little trouble driving back the ragtag Islamists. Now that the UIC has been soundly defeated, the country has returned to its chaotic and violent past. The current government relies on vigilante committees to take care of security anywhere that Ethiopian occupation forces are not present, and the people of Somalia are angry.
The BBC interviewed many random Somalis, who said such things as, “Life is harsh here because of recent events; and it’s been made worse by Ethiopian interference” and “When the Islamic Courts were in charge, we had peace.” What you should be thinking about here is, was the United States right to create a warlords’ coalition? Would you support a Chinese warlords’ coalition running this country? If you answered these questions differently from one another, go back and think about them again. If we don’t want other countries running us, we shouldn’t be trying to run them.
Was Ethiopia right to “liberate” the Somalis from UIC control and return them to the rule of the warlords’ coalitions? Would Russia be right to take over the United States and hand it over to a different warlords’ coalition? I know this seems ridiculous, but think about it.
America is proud of its freedom. We glorify the fact that our nation has never been conquered by anyone since its founding. I’m sure that no one reading this wants other countries to tell us how we should run our government.
That’s why many nations have such a big problem with us nowadays. We don’t respect their national sovereignty. If Somalia wants to be ruled by a band of religious fanatics, who are we to tell them “no, you can’t do that”? America has over-stepped its bounds as far as things like this go. We have military bases in nations across the globe. American military construction in Eastern Europe is causing tension between Russia and former Warsaw Pact nations. American military intervention in Iraq has become a flashpoint of recruitment for jihadists from Indonesia to the United Kingdom. American military threats are making negotiations with Iran difficult because we keep threatening them and countries don’t respond well to such threats. American military bases in Saudi Arabia spurred much of the anger at us in the Middle East. You get the point by now, I hope.
America has no right to tell other nations how to operate. Yes, we have a wonderful system of government, but we shouldn’t be forcing it on others if they don’t want it.
Weekly Columnist George Maynard is a 2nd-semester natural resource management major. His column appears on Wednesdays.