Tragedy in the Horn of Africa | Harper's Magazine

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Tragedy in the Horn of Africa

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Yes, when was the last time you heard a report out of the Horn of Africa that was anything other than “tragic”? I recently sat through a presentation by a State Department official touting Condi Rice’s aggressive new posture in the Horn of Africa – the point where Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia join. It has recently become an important secondary focus spot for the Bush administration’s war on terror. The words used were “decisive,” “robust” and “effective.” A lot of attention and resources are being poured into the region. And what’s the upshot?

Human misery. Lots of it. And a very strong causal relationship between that misery and U.S. engagement. Newsweek’s Rod Nordland reports:

How bad is it in Somalia? Bad enough that people fleeing the capital have been reduced to renting trees for shelter. It’s the sort of thing that happens when drug-addled warlords roam the countryside, imposing taxes of 50 percent on aid recipients. And the sort of thing to be expected of a government whose prime minister, Ali Mohamad Gedi, has publicly accused the United Nations agency feeding the country of spreading cholera along with food deliveries. And that’s the internationally recognized government, which enjoys U.S. support, although it is widely unpopular in southern Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu.

Condi’s policies are simple. The United States has one objective: getting rid of political figures she deems too close to Islamicist radicals. So she leans in support of one group of thugs against another. And add to this the system of filtration camps Condi had set up in Ethiopia, a new U.S. proxy in the region, where conditions were so abusive that the FBI agents detailed to work there questioned their legality.

Sounds like Condi’s “robust” policies are in need of a bright Congressional spotlight. And an urgent makeover.

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