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The Battle of Mogadishu: Twenty Years Later

The United States has, over the years, placed men and women in harm’s way for purposes that were not strictly confined to American interests or protecting and defending the individual rights of Americans. Conflicts such as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and President Obama’s intervention in Libya represent only a small sample of wars from which the United States should have abstained. However, no conflict captured the heinous nature of the altruist morality as the battle that occurred on October 3, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia had.

Hundreds of thousands of Somalis were dying from famine and the country was being torn apart by civil war after the overthrow of their dictator. The U.N., with the help of roughly 25,000 U.S. Marines, began a humanitarian mission to force the warring parties to cease fighting and allow international aid to help the starving population. When forces allied with warlord Mohammed Farrah Adid slaughtered over two dozen Pakistani peacekeepers, the U.N. passed a resolution that effectively declared war on Adid and fundamentally changed the purpose of the mission.

Washington, which was reluctant to become too entangled, withdrew the Marines and supplied a significantly smaller force consisting of Army Rangers and Delta Force operators. Their mission was to capture Adid but were denied armored support and AC-130 gunships that would’ve given American forces more safety and better capabilities to complete their mission.

DOD Media/TSGT PERRY HEIMER

DOD Media/TSGT PERRY HEIMER

On October 3, 1993, American forces launched a mission to capture a handful of Adid’s lieutenants. Twenty four hours later, 18 American soldiers were dead, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and Americans watched in horror as Somali militia dragged the mutilated bodies of American servicemen through the streets of Mogadishu on national television.

By March 6, 1994, all U.N. and American forces were withdrawn from Somalia.

What happened in Mogadishu reveals a profound and despicable trait that is far too embedded in decision-making when it comes to foreign policy. Look no further than the Samantha Powers’ or the Susan Rices’, or any self-proclaimed neoconservative who demands the United States intervene in any and all conflicts around the globe. What drives these individuals?

Altruism, or the morality that declares relinquishing a value for a non-value is noble and ideal. Politicians and policymakers revel in demanding that Americans sacrifice. The prime motivator for getting people to embrace altruism more enthusiastically is by assigning unearned guilt.

In the case of foreign policy, Madeline Albright said it best when questioning then chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

Just as CEOs, like Steve Jobs, who rightfully earn their wealth by taking risks, pushing radical new ideas, and working vigorously to produce beautiful products, the United States has a military that is capable of achieving swift, decisive, and unforgiving action. What do the intellectuals and the politicians demand from the Steve Jobs’ as well as the men and women of this military–sacrifice.

Just as the producers are penalized for the values they create, the United States military is damned to the duty of defending the unfortunates and the barbarians of the world because they can. After all, waging war only when it is necessary and when only the individual rights of Americans are at stake is inherently selfish. Selfishness is evil, isn’t it?

The precipitous withdrawal from Somalia reveals one important aspect about the altruist morality–it is impractical. When Americans saw what the mission in Somalia had turned into, it became clear the conflict was never worth the price those 18 American servicemen had to pay. The mutilation and the barbarity spoke for itself, it stands as the concrete example of a value being surrendered for a non-value.

The withdrawal also revealed something just as sinister; the politicians never took the mission in Somalia that seriously to begin with!

Tragically, Americans never seem to learn from past lessons and continue to elect politicians who deploy the bravest men and women America can offer to conflict zones that have nothing to do with American self-interest. This madness will continue for as long as sacrifice is held as the ideal.

Holidays such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrate the heroism, courage, and honor of American service members. October third should be the day Americans remind themselves of the true horrors of needless wars.

  • trimmerman

    I don’t need to add anything. US foreign policy is a train wreck and the soldiers pay the price. What we need is some cold conscious rage of indignation from the voters.

  • writeby

    As a veteran (‘Nam era), I agree, but rage would be better. Written several years ago, here’s my take:

    On the one hand, the angry Left
    is screaming, “Get out of ____ (Fill in the blank)!” On the other, the wimpy Right is whining, “We want our troops to
    fight, we really do! But they mustn’t
    kill anyone unless they really, really have to—and even then, they should check with a JAG lawyer first.” Neither camp supports our troops because both agree on one thing: We should sacrifice the interests of our nation (and the lives of our soldiers) to
    anyone or anything because selflessness is noble and selfishness is immoral. Both follow, assiduously, the ethics of self-sacrifice.

    Right now, because of the ethics of self-sacrifice, we are in the wrong country, fighting the wrong enemy and doing it in the wrong way. Is it any wonder the American people are growing disenchanted? And that our troops are getting demoralized? Americans strongly believe that it’s right to support our troops. But care-packages, flowers and “Thank you” notes are not what our troops need right now. They need a command strategy, from the President on down, that allows them to fight a war defending the interests—the freedom and security—of the United States of America. They need a selfish U.S. military war strategy.

    The current U.S. military war strategy is a manifestation of America’s modern foreign policy, begun during the Korean War. That foreign policy dictates that the interests of the United States are secondary to the interests of foreign nations and their
    citizens. That policy is responsible
    for murdering tens of thousands of American soldiers in Korea, in Vietnam, in
    Iraq and in Afghanistan and is responsible:

    · For the debacle of our retreat from North Korea because we refused to annihilate the Red Chinese army with battlefield nukes (as General MacArthur had strongly recommended to Truman).
    · For getting us into the Vietnam War (to save the Vietnamese from communism, not to protect the USA).
    · For prohibiting our military, once in the war, from bombing enemy facilities in Laos and Cambodia—from which the enemy launched
    attacks against our troops in the South (in much the same way as the Iranians did in Iraq)—and for barring our troops from crossing the DMZ and invading North Vietnam (as our leadership barred any attack on Iran).

    America’s foreign policy is the ethics of self-sacrifice put into practice.

    Bush upheld that policy on 918 when he refused to declare war on and nuke Iran.
    (Incidentally, declaring war would have placed any subsequent political action
    within the boundaries of the Constitution, limiting any laws intended to protect national security (such as the Patriot Act) to the duration of the war. That’s how one preserves a nation’s freedom while fighting for its security.) On 918, there was no one
    this side of a village idiot—not even George Bush—who had any doubt who was
    responsible for the attack upon the United States on September 11th. Iran had been making war on the US since 1979.
    It still is:

    · In 1983 the Iranian government financed the truck bombers who murdered 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut, Lebanon.
    · In 1994 then Iranian “president” Hashemi
    Rafsanjani, declaring war on American interests worldwide, urged Arab
    terrorists to hijack planes or to blow up factories in Western nations.
    · In 1998 the New York Times reported: “Evidence suggests that Iran sponsored the attack” in 1996 that killed 19 U.S. soldiers in their barracks in Saudi Arabia.
    · In 1999 (and every year since then) the State Department reported Iran to be “the most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the Mid-East.
    · In May of 2001, in Teheran, an amalgam of
    the world’s foremost terrorist groups met and resolved to unite against the
    U.S., declaring a “Holy War” against America.
    · In 2007, American military commanders discovered that Iran was arming the Afghan Taliban while training and arming proxy soldiers and sending them into Iraq to attack our troops.

    The only explanation for the stupidity of our leaders is that they are following—as do most of you—an ethical code that declares self-destruction noble.

    If we really want to support our troops, if we really want to defeat the enemy in any war in which we engage and quickly bring our GI’s home, if we really want to defeat any enemy we face, then we had better reject the ethics of self-sacrifice and do it damned quick. We must call for an end to the current rules of engagement. We must call for an end to the current self-sacrificing U.S. foreign policy. We must force the President and the Pentagon to allow our troops to
    fight.

    The alternative is that we continue sending care-packages and cards to our troops while they are set up as sacrificial lambs by an Administration, a government and a nation that values suicide above victory.

    Your choice, my fellow citizens, is glaringly simple: Support our troops by demanding a U.S. foreign policy based on self-interest. Or shut the hell up about supporting our troops.