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Learning the same lessons?


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I finished reading "Black Hawk Down" last night and I found a bit in the epilogue very interesting.

 

 

 

Nobody won the [battle] but like all important battles, it changed the world. . . . It ended a brief heady period of post-Cold War innocence, a time when America and its allies felt they could sweep venal dictators and vicious tribal violence from the planet as easily and relatively bloodlessly as Saddam Hussein had been swept from Kuwait. Mogadishu has had a profound cautionary influence on U.S. military policy ever since.

 

"It was a watershed," says one State Department official, who asked not to be named because his insight runs so counter to our current foreign policy agenda. "The idea used to be that terrible countries were terrible because good, decent innocent people were being oppressed by evil, thuggish leaders. Somalia changed that. Here you have a country where just about everybody is caught up in hatred and fighting. You stop an old lady on the street and ask her if she wants peace, and she'll say, yes, of course, I pray for it daily. All the things you'd expect her to say. Then ask her if she would be willing for her clan to share power with another in order to have that peace, and she'll say, 'With those murderers and thieves? I'd die first.' People in these countries--Bosnia is a more recent example--don't want peace. They want victory. They want power. Men, women, old and young. Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and the killing continue because they want it to. Or because they don't want peace enough to stop it."

 

 

 

Reading this (along with the rest of the book) actually made me question many of my beliefs. I get sucked into the same thought process most Americans do. We all think that humans are inherently good and want to live in peace with their neighbors (even the atheists among us). We learned a lesson in Somalia (at a price) then forgot it within a decade. We thought we could go to Iraq, take out a dictator who was oppressing all those "innocent" people and they would greet us as liberators. The truth is that Saddam Hussein was a product of the situation as much as he was a cause for it.

 

 

 

In Mogadishu the political leadership failed terribly. They failed to understand the complexity of the problem facing them, and then their political will crumbled at the first sight of American blood. The soldiers who bled and watched their brothers die were told the mission was over and that their sacrifices were in vain. We are now learning the same lessons again in Iraq. We easily won militarily. Will we be forced, when the music stops, to the realization that we made these sacrifices to fight a battle that could not be won from the beginning? How about Iran? Will we decide to remove Ahmadinejad with the belief that the people of Iran will greet us as liberators and declare a national "God Bless America" day? I don't have any answers, I never did. I am now more confused about what the "right" thing to do is than I was before, but whatever it is we are not doing it.

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somolia to be was not a defeat so much because of the battle but because we withdrew so easily afterward. An entire army was forced to withdraw because we lost a few soldiers. This painted the us army and the nation as a whole as weak. This is the danger in iraq. We CAN NOT be seen as losing in iraq or we will simply repeat the experience somewhere else, most likely afganistan. The tactics used in iraq are already being repeated in afganistan because they are being seen to work. Maybe iraq wasn't such a good idea, maybe it was. At this point i don't think thats the most important point. We will leave, but we must be seen to have won, or we will pay for it in american blood, again and again, and not just overseas.

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