Let's Hear It For The War on Terror: Somalia

On April 5th, there was a moving ceremony at the State Department. Assistant Secretary Barry Lowenkron presented—as mandated by the U.S. Congress—the fifth annual Supporting Human Rights and Democracy Report, which, said the secretary, “ documents the many ways the United States worked worldwide last year to foster respect for human rights and promote democratic government.”

Then, citing one of the globe’s great champions of human rights, Lowenkron continued“ As President Bush has said, what every terrorist fears most is human freedom — societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience and live by their hopes instead of their resentments.”

Of course, in that war on terror, as in any war, you’ve got to be tough minded. You do what you have to do: torture, kidnap, murder, whatever. You also find your allies where you can, right? Like in the horn of Africa where Al Qaeda has been active—killing and bombing for years. One place they were supposed to be operating was Somalia, Black Hawk Down country: the very definition of a failed state, a seething, ungovernable land of perpetually warring clans. Between 1991 and last year, 13 governments came and went.

Then, last year a coalition of Islamic groups managed to bring calm to the capital of Mogadishu by getting the feuding clans to disarm their militias, and convincing Somalis, the majority of whom are Sunnis, to accept Islam as the solution to their turmoil.

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