THE PLANK AUGUST 1, 2007
Matthew Yglesias approvingly cites this article in the current issue of TNR by Eliza Griswold concerning Ethiopia's overthrow of Somalia's "Union of Islamic Courts" regime--and America's support for it--as indicative of the follies of foreign military intervention.
What Yglesias ignores is that the Union of Islamic
Courts had itself overthrown the legitimate government of Somalia and had declared war on Ethiopia, thus precipitating the Ethiopian response. Somalia's Transitional Federal Government was supported by the European Union, the African Union and the United Nations, a consideration that a great proponent of the sanctity of international multilateral institutions like Yglesias ought appreciate. War--and the awful externalities described by Griswold--is nothing new in Somalia, (it has been going on for over a decade), and had just been widened by the UIC's declaration of arms against Ethiopia last December. Now that the UIC is losing and blames the great Satan for its woes, Yglesias sees a great opportunity to bash American-backed Ethiopian adventurism.
While citing parts of the article allegedly showing the awful repercussions of ousting the UIC, Yglesias conveniently leaves out the following snippet, which appears immediately before the portion he quotes:
The head of the UIC's shura council, Sheik Hassan Aweys, was the military leader of Al Itti- had Al Islami, which launched several attacks against Ethiopia in the 1990s and had links to Al Qaeda. Also, in the second half of 2006, hundreds of foreign fighters reportedly arrived in Somalia to fight alongside the shebab. The UIC harbored several members of Al Qaeda, including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the elusive mastermind reportedly behind the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 225 people.
In light of Griswold's piece, Yglesias wonders what I think of the invasion. I think Ethiopia was entirely justified in ousting an Al-Qaeda affiliated, Islamofascist junta which had overthrown the legitimate government of a neighbor state and was using that state's territory to launch terrorist attacks against it. And I think the United States was justified in aiding attempts to hunt down and kill the men responsible for murdering 225 people, many of them American civil servants.
I know it's a lot easier to snark about issues you don't know the first thing about, but if Yglesias thinks it's OK for terrorist groups to depose internationally-recognized governments and take over whole countries, declare war on bordering nations, and not expect any sort of armed reprisal, he should just come out and say it. But he's probably too busy obsessing over the cost/benefit analysis any such pronouncement would have for his career than to do something as silly as that.