The New York Times called it a rare rally—and a rare rally it is. Alas, Somalia is not a Muslim country about which we particularly care. It has no oil. It is poor. It suffers from ongoing drought. It has a new enemy: pirates. And, after all, it is an African society with Arab undercurrents. When did anybody really care about a place like this? It is true that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have grasped these people to their hearts—and to their fortunes. But that’s not nearly enough. Maybe nothing would be nearly enough. America has had a bad conscience about Somalia, and it has had it since Bill Clinton pulled the small number of troops we had there. According to John M. Broder in the Los Angeles Times, the president had ordered 5,300 U.S. troops to the country with a promise they’d all be out in six months. Well, Clinton always saw the bright side of things. If you want to refresh your memory about the real U.S. involvement in the Mogadishu nightmare, read this. The truth is, however, that the American electorate and the American political system would not tolerate a long-term intervention in a black country whatever the chronology. Especially not in a black country with terrorists.
According to Farouk Chotia of the BBC, 75 people were killed in a carefully calibrated truck bombing in the center of Mogadishu. Mohamed Ibrahim and Jeffrey Gettleman confirmed the news in the Times on October 4.
And, over the weekend, the Times reported that “In Rare Rally, Somalis Aim at Militants.” Finally, some Muslims have protested the murder of their own by ultra-Muslims. I wouldn’t think that Somalia’s population is other than anomic and beaten down. Frightened into submission. Well, at last, great God almighty, they are free by this little grand act.
Martin Peretz is the editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.