You don't wanna go to Somalia... for real...
I was thinking about this already, but David Anderson's revisionist-history post outlining "Ten Great Things About the Bush Presidency" - including, but not limited to, "Bush won his war," as if insurgents aren't going to start crossing the Iraqi border the second the last C-130 lifts off from Baghdad, got me worked up enough to finally post it.
Traverse back with me, Marty-McFly-style, to 2003, and let's work from the premise that the "faulty intelligence" about weapons of mass destruction had been properly discarded. Here's a quick look at the countries of Iraq and Somalia:
• Iraq: Saddam Hussein is a dick. This is indisputable. In fact, he's so MUCH of a dick, that even though he's an Arab, his Arab neighbors can't stand his Kurd-gassin' ass. The Persians next door in Iran hate him. Not as much as their government hates the U.S., but they ain't friends. The Taliban, on his back porch in Afghanistan, aren't about to launch rocket strikes into eastern Iraq, but they want nothing to with Saddam or his douchebag kids. He's contained within his own region. He doesn't dare attack an Arab neighbor for fear of reprisals from all sides (and the ONE thing the U.S. and Iran might be able to agree on), and his asshole is still a little chapped from the last time he tried to smack Kuwait around like Ike did Tina.
• Somalia: You saw Black Hawk Down. Somalia is worse than that now. In 2003, they had been without a central government for about seven years. The country is essentially a few million of the world's most desperately-poor people, along with a handful of warlords who, post 9/11, are all trying to hit up al-Qaeda on their stolen satellite phones. With no government, nobody knows who is coming into the country, who's leaving, and what they're doing while they're hanging around. It's basically a wide-open country whose only semblance of order is comprised of warring factions who are all sympathetic to al-Qaeda in some way, or for the right price... oh yeah, and THEY HAVE FUCKING REAL-LIFE PIRATES IN SOMALIA. Dudes are out there in rickety skiffs with AK-47's doing some for-real Captain Barbosa shit, to the tune of more than a dozen ships over the past few years.
Now you tell me which of those seems like the place with a more pressing need for some sort of military action.
For the record, I'm all for moving the Iraq war back next door to Afghanistan. If Karzai isn't going to rein in the warlords up in the mountains and all near Tajikistan and shit, take care of business. We shouldn't have gone and kicked the door in at Saddam's in the first place.
Imagine how much more support Bush could have drummed up to go into Somalia. I'm sure he'd have gotten nothing but cooperation from neighboring countries, and the coastal cities whose ships are in constant danger of getting jacked by Capt. Jack Muhammad Farah Aidid Sparrow and his wily crew would surely have welcomed the help. You neutralize a potential base of operations for al-Qaeda, and try to establish a government in one of the poorest countries in the world.
Sure seems like a noble mission to me. Not a lot of oil profit in it, I know... but there's still a country to build.