Biden Escalates in Somalia

It is absurd to think that Al Shabaab poses any threat to the United States, so it is hard to see how any genuine U.S. security interests are being served by expanding our role in the war.

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Biden is sending more troops back into one of the endless wars:

President Biden has signed an order authorizing the military to once again deploy hundreds of Special Operations forces inside Somalia – largely reversing the decision by President Donald J. Trump to withdraw nearly all 700 ground troops who had been stationed there, according to four officials familiar with the matter.

In addition, Mr. Biden has approved a Pentagon request for standing authority to target about a dozen suspected leaders of Al Shabab, the Somali terrorist group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda, three of the officials said. Since Mr. Biden took office, airstrikes have largely been limited to those meant to defend partner forces facing an immediate threat.

The earlier withdrawal from Somalia did not mean that the US was no longer involved in the conflict, but pulling troops out of there was one of the few things that Trump got right. Reversing that withdrawal is a mistake, and launching more strikes in Somalia practically guarantees that more Somali civilians will be killed by US attacks. US military involvement in Somalia is relatively limited, but it is still unnecessary and ill-advised. Limited US involvement is how it has been possible for the last three presidents and now Biden to wage a war there that most Americans know nothing about. That has happened because there has been scant oversight and no pressure on any administration to justify the continuation of the war.

The legal authority for US involvement in Somalia’s conflict is as shaky as it gets. Because Al Shabaab is considered an “associate force” of Al Qaeda, the government claims that the 2001 AUMF applies to a group that didn’t exist when the AUMF was written. This is a prime example of why the 2001 AUMF needs to be repealed: it gives any president a free hand to wage war virtually anywhere against any group provided that there is some notional link with Al Qaeda. It is absurd to think that Al Shabaab poses any threat to the United States, so it is hard to see how any genuine US security interests are being served by expanding our role in the war.

There was an opportunity here for Biden to change the policy he inherited in a way that wouldn’t repeat the mistakes that the US has been making in Somalia for decades, but instead he has decided on going back to a militarized approach that was bringing Somalia neither peace nor security. As Elizabeth Shackelford explained shortly after the 2020 election, US intervention in Somalia was not succeeding in defeating Al Shabaab:

The security situation has remained a violent stalemate. Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi recently declared that – with US assistance – Somalia is “on the brink of defeating” al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda-affiliated group we are fighting there. The consistency of al-Shabaab’s attacks and civilian casualties for several years now suggests otherwise. US military leaders have conceded that military defeat of al-Shabaab is not possible and that the conflict will only be won by addressing the underlying causes of extremism in that country with better governance. In the absence of any signs that governance will improve on its current course, maintaining the same military-led strategy is counterproductive.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

17 thoughts on “Biden Escalates in Somalia”

  1. Al-Shabaab’s biggest crime is identical to the Taliban’s. They are both organizations that reject the Westphalian nation state and a monopoly on the use of force. America loves jihadist whack-jobs, just not one’s that flirt with anarchism. Statelessness is bad for business.

    1. The US state seems to love all these Antifa people at least. I saw an article concerned over the Amish population growth. So, I assume the Amish are targeted, or considered, for destruction.

      You can’t control a people who are independent, even if a state exists. Foreign farmers were destroyed with cheap food, but the Amish just live their lives regardless of prices.

      Rejecting Westphalia might just lead to Islamic Empire, which is to say a big state.

      1. Too many members of Antifa are just social democrats with anarchist t-shirts aka zero threat to the system. The Amish are much more consistent in their devotion to stateless communalism, and they don’t need bricks to achieve it. Tribal Islamic cultures like that of the Pashtun are quietist by nature. They’re isolationists until somebody steps in and starts giving orders. This isn’t to say that they’re angels but their inability to be governed is certainly an admirable quality even to a decadent creature like myself.

        1. Go hit the gym. I always wanted to take up martial arts. Many of the people I read are all about pursuing strength, becoming independent, so forth.

          You’re always blogging about racists out to get people. Well, no one can oppress a strong, independent person.

          “Rehearse death, then no one can enslave you.” – bad paraphrase of supposed Seneca quote.

          But small societies shouldn’t be seen as bad. Sparta, today, wouldn’t need slaves, was admirable otherwise for its independence. And Switzerland was independent and neutral for a long time. “Small is Beautiful.” Embrace your inner right wing.

          1. I’m all about Queer Power over LGBTQ(TM) assimilation. On some level this makes me a nationalist, albeit a stateless one. I’m working my ass off (literally) to drop some pounds, but that’s largely in preparation for the hormones which I’m guessing you don’t approve of. I have to be me to be strong. I’m looking into learning to shoot and make candles so I can get out from under the state’s thumb.

          2. Yea, I think hormones are bad, but it’s worst when done to kids. Keep in mind what Russel Kirk taught: “The conservative is ready to negotiate.” The US probably needs some trans friendly state in the union, but I don’t want to live in a state that abuses kids. People can just move where they want. Women are losing their sports teams. It’s not working out the way things are now – too many unhappy.

            The biggest threat to trans I expect is the drug use and general unhealthy lifestyle. Y’all could do whatever but healthily, in theory.

            But, um, the tribal societies you praised are low density. And they tend to be right wing. I mean the sexual stuff was found in Thebes; some of it even you wouldn’t like. Athens and others were into it too.

            But today, not many traditional societies are into that, at least that I know of. I first learned from you that Amerindian societies are painted a certain way today, but I question the accuracy.

            Oh, the four reasons I believe the elite are pushing trans is: 1. To reduce births. 2. To create a docile population. 3. To breakup the family which should also create a more docile population. 4. To create a group supportive of transhumanism.

            Eventually they’re going to try to replace us all I expect with creatures made in labs. William Pierce’s dream, one I oppose. Small changes at first, then bigger changes, then shocking results.

          3. “The US probably needs some trans friendly state in the union, but I don’t want to live in a state that abuses kids. ”

            You just said the same thing twice as if you were saying conflicting things.

          4. I support parents, with the assistance of doctors and input from the children, making medical decisions for children instead of your preferred politicians making those medical decisions at gunpoint.

          5. Low density societies are the only kinds that work. Before assimilation, the Queer community itself was low density, many of our communities still are. Forcing kids to do anything is abusive. I still have PTSD from a childhood full of adults who tried to force me to be the gender on my birth certificate. The children have to lead the way and hormones aren’t even useful until puberty. As for traditional societies who embrace alternatives to the gender binary, there are plenty. The Zapotec have the muxe, Hindus have the hijra, and the Buginese of Sulawesi have acknowledged five distinct genders for centuries and they’re conservative Muslims. Iran performs the second highest amount of confirmation surgeries in the world after Thailand and with the full approval of the Ayatollah. Ultimately conservatism is about respecting the right for people to hold on to their traditions without outside interference and for many cultures that includes a more spiritual approach to gender.

          6. The Zapotecs, since they were MesoAmerican, were almost certainly into human sacrifice and cannibalism, just because everyone in that area was at that time. I’m not suggesting Europe was never into it. I expect Europe was into it at one point, even though Christianity tends to paint pagans as worse than they were sometimes. But at that point and time, that was the thing in MesoAmerica.

            When the “Civilised Tribes” fought for the South in the so-called “Civil War,” they wanted to practice their own religion if victorious. Christians never would have allowed that, but I wonder what was included in that religion. Their descendants still live today, but I dunno if they even remember. Too many things are forgotten when the old pass away; the elderly never realise how little their children and grandchildren learn about the past. But it’d be interesting if anything at all were remembered.

          7. Since gender is so important to you, I expect you’d be very happy if at some ideal weight.

            The secret to dieting:
            1. No stress.
            2. Heavy exercise or heavy study or heavy mental activity (like chess or work).
            3. Eat for energy, not for taste. If you need food to keep you going optimally, you’ll keep to this. I recommend a fish and veggie diet, but it’s expensive. A vitamin I suspect is good that few take is K2. It pairs with D3 and Calcium, but it’s just one part of nutrition.

  2. I have little idea about Somalia, but I’ve seen enough to expect the US will mess things up there. It’s usually, if not always, best the US stays out fully. Maybe there are some few examples of policy working well somewhere…

  3. These are heady days for the MIC, as the profits from endless wars roll in. That is all you really need to know about the situation. It really makes no difference if it is Somalia, Afghanistan or some other hellhole, bombing brown people in third world countries is definitely big business.

  4. Another “Black Hawk Down” scenario soon to be seen on national television? The movie made everyone heroes, while neglecting why it happened: we chose the wrong war lord, then killed upwards of 2,000 Somalis.

    1. The presidents after WWII were warmongers. So were some presidents before that time. Bill Clinton as well as George H W Bush and George W Bush bombed Iraq after the Gulf War ended and before the Iraq War started and imposed UN sanctions against them which led to starvation of the people there. Clinton also bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan and bombed Somalia which caused the Black Hawk Helicopter to be shot down. The move Black Hawk Down depicts the Americans as good guys and Somalis as bad guys.

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