Day By Day

Thursday, December 28, 2006

What Are The Ethiopians Doing Right?

Islamic radicalism has been dealt a major blow in Somalia and American commentators are looking for reasons. Pajamas Media has a summary here.

A couple of observations:

1) Once again the US intelligence services screwed up royally.

The startlingly rapid retreat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a Taliban-like group linked to Osama bin Laden, surprised military intelligence officers who less than a week ago were predicting a total route of Somalia’s secular transitional federal government.

2) This has become an opportunity to rail against the restrictive rules of engagement that hamper the operations of American troops in Iraq.
There may be lessons for the United States in Ethiopia’s success. Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor at Niagara University who is in contact with transitional government military commanders on the ground, says that Ethiopia has less concern than the U.S. about civilian casualties.
We've been hearing a lot of this stuff lately -- complaints that we are fighting too nicely to win.

3) It has also been an opportunity to vent frustration regarding the way in which the Western media have behaved.
The Ethiopian government is generally less sensitive to media criticism than the U.S. government—and is likely to encounter far less criticism in the first place, since the press traditionally gives short shrift to coverage of Africa.
Already the lens is being ground through which conservatives will view the events of our times. Here are three of the major elements -- complaints against incompetent bureaucrats, complaints against restrictive human rights regulations, and complaints about a biased media.

These complaints can be argued against, but they should not be dismissed out of hand. Each of them contains elements of the truth. The intelligence services in recent decades have at times displayed staggering levels of incompetence; a narrow focus on human rights can be counter productive in many instances, impeding the resolution of destructive confrontations; and there is ample evidence of widespread, even systemic, media bias. I doubt that these in themselves are sufficient to explain the difficulties we now face, but they do contribute significantly to our current dilemma.

No comments: