Clifford May, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — a neocon nest explored inÂ an excellent 2003 piece by Dan McCarthy in The American Conservative — opines that the Ethiopians, currently fighting andÂ supposedly beating “Islamist” militias in Somalia,Â could teach us a thing or two about how to defeat The Enemy:
More â€œboots on the groundâ€ may be part of the explanation. The Ethiopians are not attempting to have a â€œlight footprint.â€ They are not worried about whether they will be seen as â€œoccupiersâ€ or whether their â€œoccupationâ€ will be viewed as benevolent.Secondly, the Ethiopians are not overly concerned about whether their tactics will win approval from the proverbial Arab Street â€“ or the European Street or Turtle Bay. They are fighting a war; their intention is to defeat their enemies; everything else is secondary or tertiary.Anyone have an alternative interpretation?Â
Well, uh, yeah:
AsÂ Ethiopia and Somalia’s Islamic Courts movement inch closer to all-out conflict, a widespread view among people here in the capital is that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is using the conflict to distract people from a vast array of internal problems and to justify further repression of opposition groups, including ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia.
In particular, opponents of war say he is playing up the claim that there are Al-Qaida operatives within the Islamic Courts in order to maintain the support of the U.S. government, which relies on a steady flow of Ethiopian intelligence that some regional analysts say is of dubious value.
Ethiopia is a dictatorship and U.S. ally that regularly jails political opponents and brutalizes its own people, as well as its neighbors. In the Bizarro “conservative” worldview of Senor May and the Foundation for the Defense of “Democracies,” this is a model to be emulated.