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Somalia: Humanitarian Success And Political/Military Failure

Somalia: Humanitarian Success And Political/Military Failure

 

CSC 1995

 

SUBJECT AREA - Topical Issues

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

Title: Somalia: Humanitarian Success and Political/Military Failure

 

Author: Major L. M. Martin, United States Marine Corps

 

Thesis: That although the commitment of U.S. forces in Somalia was ordered for

humanitarian reasons, the more ambitious goal of peacemaking failed due to the

absence of an achievable mission.

 

Background: In ordering forces to Somalia in December 1992, President Bush

articulated the humanitarian mission, but did not ensure that the United States' and

United Nations' (UN) goals were in consonance. Additionally, he did not involve

incoming President Clinton in his decision. From the beginning, UN

Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali intended the United Nations effort to include

disarmament of the Somali warring factions and nation building. In contrast to

former President Bush, President Clinton's views toward Somalia more closely

mirrored those of the UN Secretary-General. Although the UN assumed control of

the Somali operation in March 1993, the U.S. continued to play a major role in

military operations and UN negotiations. The humanitarian effort succeeded in

saving lives, but the political/military operation failed to achieve its mission. The

following factors contributed to that political/military failure: the lack of an

achievable military and political objective; the impact of the media on military

operations; the absence of an articulated foreign policy toward Somalia; and the lack

of American public support for continued operations.

 

Recommendation: The U.S. should continue to support humanitarian operations to

the greatest extent possible. To avoid another failure such as Somalia, the United

States should not support nor participate in UN peacemaking or peace enforcement

actions involving civil wars unless all major warring factions actively seek a peaceful

solution to the crisis and there is an articulated and achievable end state.

 

SOMALIA: HUMANITARIAN SUCCESS

 

AND POLITICAL/MILITARY FAILURE

 

 

 

On April 24, 1992, the United Nations Security Council established a UN

 

Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) to "facilitate an immediate cessation of hostilities

 

and the maintenance of a cease-fire throughout the country, and to promote the

 

process of reconciliation and political settlement."1 This initial resolution regarding

 

Somalia was modest in scope with only 50 UN observers and 500 security

 

personnel.2 UNOSOM's mission also included a 90-day Plan of Action for

 

Humanitarian Assistance to Somalia.

 

With a fragile cease-fire in the capitol city of Mogadishu only (declared in

 

March 1992), and continued fighting in the north and south, warring factions greatly

 

outnumbered the UNOSOM forces. Tons of food began to flow into the country

 

and numerous nongovernment organization (NGO) personnel attempted to

 

distribute it to the starving masses. In a short period of time, it became evident that

 

armed bandits and looters were benefiting from the aid far more than those in true

 

need. Therefore, on December 3, 1992, the United Nations Security Council

 

approved a resolution authorizing member states to deploy combat troops "to

 

establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia."3 Few

 

individuals following the story doubted that "member states" provided the UN cover

 

for a major deployment of U.S. troops and material to Somalia.

 

President George Bush publicly declared that the United States was the only

 

nation capable of quickly mounting a military operation designed to facilitate the

 

humanitarian effort in Somalia. Journalistic speculation of the president's motives

 

varied from a belief that he wanted to end his term on a high note to the opinion that

 

he had caved in to public pressure generated by graphic news footage of starving

 

Somalis. As with most military operations that "fail," debate continues on whether

 

U.S. should have committed forces to such a mission. Certainly, the operation did

 

not meet the requirement of the Weinberger Doctrine since American vital interests

 

did not exist in Somalia; however, current national security strategy does not require

 

such "vital interest" and the issue of internal morality cannot be discounted.

 

This analysis will discuss why the United States committed forces to Somalia,

 

whether the commitment of U.S. forces was in consonance with the National

 

Security Strategy, why we left Somalia, and how the Somalia experience may shape

 

future U.S. involvement in UN peace operations. This discussion begins with a short

 

background on Somalia, and is then broken down into the major phases of the

 

Somalia operation which directly involved American forces.

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

A general understanding of Somalia's geography, demographics, and culture

 

is essential to this analysis. Roughly the shape of a boomerang, and nearly equal in

 

square miles to the State of Texas, Somalia sits on the Horn of Africa at the entrance

 

to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Djibouti to the north, Ethiopia to the west,

 

and Kenya to the south provide its borders.

 

Of its approximately 8.5 million people, more than 98 percent are Somali,

 

giving it an unusual ethnic homogeneity. More than 45 percent of the population are

 

under 15 years of age. About 70 percent of Somali's are nomads who travel with

 

their livestock herds through Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. A lack of definitive

 

borders contributes to the unresolved land disputes between Somalia and its

 

neighbors.

 

From the late 1800's until World War II, Somalia was split under British and

 

Italian colonial rule. During World War II, Britain occupied all of Somalia, and in

 

1948, gave the Ogaden region to Ethiopia even though Somalis primarily populated

 

it. In 1950, the United Nations voted to grant independence to Somalia; and in 1960.

 

Somalia became a republic with its current borders.4

 

Following 9 years of civilian government, President Muhammad Siad Barre

 

assumed power in 1969 in a military coup. As a publicly declared "scientific socialist"

 

Barre received both military and financial aid from the former Soviet Union until

 

1977, when a dispute with Soviet-backed Ethiopia caused him to break off relations

 

with the Soviets and turn to the United States. To counter Soviet influence on the

 

Horn of Africa, the United States then provided Somalia with military and economic

 

aid. Somalia played the Cold War game very well, requesting hundreds of millions

 

of dollars in arms and financial aid to fight two U.S. foes, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi

 

and Ethiopia's pro-Soviet leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam. Additionally, Somalia

 

purchased tens of millions of dollars worth of U.S. arms under Foreign Military

 

Sales in the mid-1980's.5 Ironically, a mere decade later, American policymakers

 

tried to disarm a nation the U.S. had helped to arm. Aid to Somalia gradually

 

increased until it peaked in the mid-1980s at more than $ 100 million annually; but as

 

the Cold War wound down, aid began to decrease significantly.

 

In 1988, the Somali National Movement (Isaq clan) rose in rebellion and

 

seized several towns in the north. Although President Barre responded with military

 

force, heavy bombing and shelling could not put down the rebels. Another group,

 

the Somali Patriotic Movement (Ogadeni clan), gradually took over the southern

 

region; and the United Somali Congress (Hawiye clan) dominated in the central

 

region and in Mogadishu, the capitol. In 1989, Barre's violent retaliation against

 

rival clans could no longer be ignored, and the United States cut off all aid.

 

After nearly 3 years of civil war, Siad Barre finally fled Somalia in January

 

1991. Although the three dominant Somali groups declared their intent to form a

 

transitional government leading to a democracy, within a few months there were

 

challenges to the authority of the transitional president, Ali Mahdi Mohammed. The

 

primary challenge came from General Mohammed Farrah Aidid, chairman of the

 

ruling United Somali Congress and a fellow Hawiye clansman of Ali Mahdi.

 

In addition to the carnage of a civil war with no end in sight, a drought-

 

caused famine was in full force and Somalis were dying of starvation by the

 

thousands. Although numerous humanitarian relief organizations were at work in

 

Somalia, they made little headway in stopping the devastation. In addition, Somali

 

refugees were becoming a problem in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.6

 

 

UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION

 

On 23 January 1992, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution

 

733 (1992) which called for an embargo on weapons and military equipment being

 

sent to Somalia. In the meantime, recently-elected UN Secretary-General Boutros

 

Boutros-Ghali continued his personal ongoing dialogue with all Somali "parties,

 

movements and factions" attempting to convene a conference on national

 

reconciliation and unity.7 Boutros-Ghali's previous relationship with former-

 

president Siad Barre, however, hampered his effectiveness in negotiating with the

 

warring Somali clans.

 

On 24 April 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 751

 

(1992) to "facilitate an immediate cessation of hostilities and the maintenance of a

 

cease-fire throughout the country, and to promote the process of reconciliation and

 

political settlement."8 The resolution also supported Boutros-Ghali's 90-day Plan of

 

Action for Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Somalia.

 

Resolution 751 called for the immediate deployment of 50 UN observers to

 

monitor the cease-fire in Mogadishu and approved "in principle" Boutros-Ghali's

 

plan to deploy a 500-member security force to assist with humanitarian supply

 

deliveries. Boutros-Ghali reported to the Security Council that the UN would

 

establish UNOSOM "in accordance with agreements signed on 27 and 28 March,

 

respectively, by Interim President Mohamed and General Aidid."9

 

Although the 50 observers were in Somalia in short order, UNOSOM was in

 

trouble from the start. The UN had to place the 500-man Pakistani battalion,

 

designated as the UNOSOM security force, on standby for months as General Aidid

 

refused to agree to allow armed UN forces in Somalia.10 The UN observers made

 

little progress in reducing the conflict or securing supplies, and in July, the UN

 

asked for increased airlifting of food.

 

 

 

OPERATION PROVIDE RELIEF

 

Ordered by President George Bush in response to UN requests. Operation

 

Provide Relief began on August 15, 1992, and was to: "[p]rovide military assistance

 

in support of emergency humanitarian relief to Kenya and Somalia."11 Although

 

United States military participation at this point was strictly logistical in nature, the

 

United States stationed a Marine Expeditionary Unit off the coast of Somalia to

 

support the airlift. At that time, Assistant Secretary of State Herman Cohen stated

 

that the United States had "no intention of landing a Marine expedition."12 Merely a

 

few months later, his words would prove untrue. Although Operation Provide Relief

 

successfully airlifted more than 28,000 metric tons of relief supplies into Somalia, the

 

situation on the ground worsened. The fighting continued, and media pictures

 

beamed back to the United States of dying children resulted in an ever-increasing

 

demand to "do something."

 

 

 

OPERATION RESTORE HOPE

 

On December 4, 1992, President Bush announced that he would deploy

 

thousands of American troops to Somalia under the terms of UN resolution 794

 

(1992) passed the previous day. The United Task Force (UNITAF) would be a

 

multinational coalition led by the United States as a stop-gap measure to provide

 

security for distribution of relief supplies in Somalia until a more permanent UN

 

peacekeeping force could assume those responsibilities. Significantly, resolution 794

 

referenced Chapter VII of the UN Charter which concerns peace enforcement.

 

At this point in the Somalia story, the disparities in expectations began to

 

impact American intervention in Somalia. Significant differences in goals existed

 

between President Bush and UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali. President Bush

 

intended to send to Somalia "a broad force to accomplish a narrow mission in a short

 

time."13 Boutros-Ghali, on the other hand wanted the United States to stay until the

 

country was stabilized. The Secretary-General informed the UN Security Council

 

that he wanted the intervention force to disarm the Somalis and confiscate their

 

heavy weapons. Officials in Washington recognized the impossibility of that task,

 

refused to commit to it and left the matter to the discretion of the on-scene

 

commander.

 

Throughout the remainder of his term of office, President Bush never

 

wavered from his position that the U.S. was in Somalia for humanitarian reasons

 

only and that he would bring the troops home soon. There were even public

 

assurances that the troops could be home by Inauguration Day, January 20, 1993,

 

but the more popular opinion was that they would for remain for 6 months to a

 

year.14

 

To understand Boutros-Ghali's position, one need only review his Agenda for

 

Peace. The Secretary-General assumed his post with ambitious goals which included

 

establishing "peace-enforcement units" and permanently assigning armed forces from

 

member states to the Security Council to give the UN credibility as a "guarantor of

 

international security." He also advocated immediate establishment of a $50-million

 

revolving peace-keeping reserve fund and a pre-positioned stock of peacekeeping

 

equipment.15

 

Additionally, expectations and frustrations on the ground in Somalia were

 

innumerable. For the most part, the Somali people were happy to see the troops, and

 

some Somali clan leaders were asking for an extended commitment. Even General

 

Aidid staged a pro-American demonstration, although most Western observers

 

doubted his sincerity. As might be anticipated in such a large and quickly conceived

 

operation, many contingencies arose amongst the coalition, the humanitarian relief

 

organizations, and the Somalis.

 

Although the U.S. special envoy, Robert Oakley, brokered a temporary

 

cease-fire between Aidid and Ali Mahdi, the warlords did not agreed to lay down

 

their arms. In fact, their orders for their fighters to leave Mogadishu created havoc

 

in the countryside and caused an outcry from relief workers in outlying towns as

 

armed gangs attacked them.

 

The issue of complete disarmament was a catch-22 that the UN never fully

 

resolved. Few disagree with UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali's position that

 

peace building could not begin until the coalition disarmed the warring factions.

 

However, military officials and experienced U.S. politicians (those who remember

 

Beirut) believed that wholesale disarmament would turn the coalition troops into the

 

enemy of all Somali factions. Although armed with modern warfighting equipment,

 

the coalition troops (predominantly U.S.) could not disarm so many Somalis without

 

an exceedingly high toll in lives: American, coalition, and Somali. It is reasonable to

 

assume that the American public would be unwilling to accept the deaths of so many

 

sons in a "humanitarian" operation.

 

 

 

THE UNITED NATIONS/UNITED STATES GAP WIDENS

 

As his presidential term came to a close, President Bush reiterated his

 

position that prolonged operations would not be necessary and that American

 

servicemen would be in Somalia "only as long as necessary to establish a secure

 

environment."16 Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali now demanded that "before going

 

home, American troops not only seize the Somali clans' arsenals but also remove the

 

mines that have been laid in the north of the country and set up a military police

 

force to preserve order."17 Only under those conditions would Boutros-Ghali provide

 

UN peacekeepers to take over. U.S. officials maintained that they made the offer of

 

troops to the UN with very specific guidelines, and the pertinent Security Council

 

resolution did not require such actions by UNITAF. United States officials accused

 

the Secretary-General of "moving the goalposts" while UN officials maintained that

 

the U.S. knew the ground rules from the beginning.

 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the quick hand-off from UNITAF to the

 

more permanent UN force did not go "quickly." On the eve of Bill Clinton's

 

inauguration as president, the U.S. pulled more than 1,000 Marines out of Somalia to

 

return home. Most observed the move as a token effort of keeping President Bush's

 

word, but also as a means to prod the United Nations into creating the regular

 

peacekeeping force.

 

For several weeks, the U.S. media reported little news from Somalia News

 

of sporadic fighting with few coalition casualties competed with news of President

 

Clinton's first months in office. After much delay, however, on March 26, 1993, the

 

UN Security Council passed resolution 814 (1992) establishing UNOSOM II.

 

Resolution 814 contained several significant (and ambitious) provisions: (1) it

 

mandated a peacekeeping operation under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and

 

included the requirement to disarm all Somali clans; (2) it specifically addressed the

 

political objective of rebuilding a member state's political and economic structure;

 

and (3) it directed the creation of a secure environment throughout Somalia to

 

include the northern region which had declared independence.18

 

To carry out the resolution, the United Nations established a full

 

peacekeeping structure in Somalia with Admiral Jonathan Howe, U.S. Navy,

 

retired, as head and special representative of the Secretary-General, and Turkish

 

Lieutenant General Cevik Bir as commander of the UN forces.

 

 

 

THE UNITED STATES TAKES A SUBORDINATE ROLE

 

Under UNOSOM II, the U.S. role was primarily that of logistical support,

 

with one significant exception. The U.S. also agreed to provide a Quick Reaction

 

Force of more than 1,000 Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. Those

 

troops were to remain under the tactical control of the Commander, U.S. Forces,

 

Somalia.19 On May 4, 1993, the UN official took control and responsibility for

 

operations in Somalia.

 

Approximately one month later, the UN operation shifted dramatically. On

 

June 6, 1993, Aidid supporters ambushed and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The

 

assault was particularly vicious. The Somali gunmen used women and children as

 

shields and mutilated the Pakistani corpses. Two days later, and with the strong

 

support of the Clinton administration, the UN Security Council passed resolution

 

837 which called for the immediate apprehension of those responsible for the

 

ambush. The hunt for Aidid was on, and the UN coalition started to weaken.

 

In the following weeks, the UN command accused the Italian and Saudi

 

peacekeepers of ignoring the command and taking orders only from their own

 

governments. The German government threatened to withhold the remainder of its

 

contingent promised to the UN. In the United States, debate grew in Congress over

 

the change in mission.

 

International criticism of the United States also increased. With civilian

 

casualties from American gunship attacks, and the UN command structure in

 

Somalia staffed primarily by Americans, Somali leaders held the U.S. accountable

 

for the dramatic change in the focus of the operation.20

 

In August 1993, four U.S. soldiers lost their lives when their military vehicle

 

hit a command detonated mine. President Clinton threatened retaliation, and in

 

September deployed 400 Army Rangers to augment the Quick Reaction Force.

 

Secretary of Defense Les Aspin said that U.S. forces would not leave Somalia until

 

the capitol was calm, the rebels disarmed of heavy weapons, and a national police

 

force was in place.21 The United States had moved closer to the goals of

 

Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali and away from those of former President Bush.

 

One month later, on October 3 and 4, a U.S. Army Ranger mission to capture

 

Aidid ended in disaster with 18 U.S. servicemen dead and 77 wounded. After

 

meeting with his top advisors, the president agreed to a new U.S. strategy to

 

"reinforce the troops, shift from a get-Aidid policy to a more political approach and

 

set a hard deadline for withdrawal."22 Within a week, President Clinton established

 

a March 31, 1994 deadline for withdrawal of all American forces. Other major

 

coalition partners soon followed in announcing their withdrawal from Somalia. For

 

all intents and purposes, Operation Restore Hope was over.

 

 

 

THE NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY

 

Operation Restore Hope was a fragile undertaking from the very beginning.

 

It was, however, in consonance with the president's National Security Strategy.

 

President Bush intended that the primary purpose of the operation to be

 

humanitarian. More specifically, however, his National Security Strategy published

 

in August 1991, notes that we should be "proud of the role we played in bringing to

 

an end civil wars in Angola and Ethiopia."25 America had set the precedent for

 

involvement in the internal conflicts of an African nation.

 

In January 1993, just prior to his departure from office, President Bush

 

signed a new National Security Strategy. One major section is entitled, "The

 

Promotion of Peace and Democracy... Our Policy Agenda." That section notably

 

contains a section concerning the United Nations. It states, "The United States

 

should do its part to strengthen UN conflict prevention, peacekeeping and

 

peacemaking abilities by taking an active role in the full spectrum of UN

 

peacekeeping and humanitarian relief planning and support."24 With regard to

 

Africa, the National Security Strategy indicates, "[o]ur leadership in Operation

 

RESTORE HOPE is designed to encourage other nations to contribute to the

 

amelioration of the human condition there, laying the foundation for continued

 

economic and political progress."25

 

Critics accused President Bush of several motives in ordering Operation

 

Restore Hope. Most often, they accused him of ordering the mission as the last

 

grand-stand play of a lame duck president. Others implied that he took action in

 

Somalia to divert attention away from the Bosnian crisis. Regardless of his true

 

motives, most reports agree that he intended the operation be accomplished with a

 

narrowly defined mission and within a very short period of time.

 

President Bush's final National Security Strategy, however, does not coincide

 

with his "narrowly defined mission." As initially designed, Operation Restore Hope

 

had little chance of ending the Somali civil war. Peacemaking, peace enforcement,

 

and establishing democracy are decades in the making and cannot be accomplished

 

in a "very short period of time."

 

 

 

THE CONSEQUENCES OF "MISSION CREEP"

 

Although the initial intent of Operation Restore Hope was to facilitate

 

delivery of humanitarian supplies, the potential existed very strongly from the

 

beginning for a larger mission. Secretary-General Bofutros-Ghali was quite

 

outspoken in his expectations for UN peacekeepers. Complete disarmament of

 

warring factions, establishment of a national police force, and rebuilding the Somali

 

political infrastructure were always his goals. As long as the United States continued

 

to approve Security Council resolutions regarding Somalia and remained as part of

 

the UN coalition, we must accept full responsibility for our part in the operation.

 

The most visible "mission creep" was the UN resolution drafted in response to the

 

ambush on the Pakistani soldiers. Although the resolution did not name General

 

Aidid, he was clearly its intended focus.

 

Targeting General Aidid was clearly a mistake for two reasons. First, UN

 

representative Admiral Howe (U.S. Navy, retired) strongly asserted that we were

 

not targeting any clan or subclan, but in doing so, he demonstrated his lack of

 

understanding of the Somalia clan culture. Regardless of his protestations to the

 

contrary, General Aidid's clan and allies did take on the challenge and unite against a

 

now common enemy in defending their clansman. By targeting Aidid, we also

 

validated his position and raised him in stature in the eyes of many of his followers.

 

Secondly, it was a mission likely to fail since the most sophisticated intelligence assets

 

could not locate a single individual in a city where so many were determined to

 

protect him.

 

Interestingly, Turkish General Cevik Bir, upon his departure from the UN

 

command, in a letter to Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, indirectly criticized the

 

United States and the European coalition members for "mission erosion." Bir stated,

 

"The contributing nations must be committed enough to accept the violence and loss

 

of life associated with war, and then stay the course."26 What General Bir clearly did

 

not understand is that the United States' president did not intend to participate in a

 

war, nor would the American public view casualties in a humanitarian mission in the

 

same context as those expected in war.

 

 

 

THE BRIGHT LINE OF PEACE OPERATIONS

 

"Forcible disarmament is the 'bright line' of peace operations: when you cross

 

it, you have entered a de facto state of war."27 Beyond the initial humanitarian

 

mission, any attempt at forcible nation building was doomed to failure.

 

Boutros-Ghali obviously believed that total disarmament was possible in a nation that

 

has been at war with itself for centuries. Even if the Somalis had agreed to give up

 

the arms already in Somalia, there was no way to prevent arms from flowing back in

 

from Somalis in Ethiopia and Kenya.

 

In a nation where warring factions refuse to voluntarily disarm, and

 

peacemakers must remain neutral with limited intervention, peace can never occur.

 

Limited intervention may succeed, if the peacemakers assist one belligerent in

 

defeating another. Impartial intervention may succeed if the peacemakers take total

 

command of the situation and forcibly impose a settlement such as through a UN

 

trusteeship.28 With all sides committing atrocities in Somalia, and with the complex,

 

tangled clan structures, taking one side to defeat another was not an available option.

 

It is unlikely that the United States, nor any other members of the UN coalition,

 

would have agreed to unlimited military action to put down the fighting. Nor is it

 

likely that the international community would have accepted the concept of a UN

 

trusteeship as it is too akin to colonialism. Hence, a stalemate among all parties was

 

the only possible result. "The predicament of peacekeeping soldiers on the ground is

 

that they are unable to move forward into an unwinnable battle, unable to stay put

 

taking casualties for no purpose, and unable to withdraw without repercussions for

 

the U.S. position in the region and in the world."29

 

 

 

REDEFINING THE UN PEACEKEEPING MISSION

 

The United Nations was established following World War II to maintain

 

international peace. Its Charter provides two primary means: peaceful settlement of

 

disputes under Chapter VI and collective enforcement under Chapter VII.

 

Increasingly, peacekeeping operations have fallen somewhere between those two

 

chapters and have been informally termed "Chapter VI and a half" operations. The

 

UN Security Council cannot enforce resolutions against member states under

 

Chapter VI. The collective security articulated under Chapter VII is not directly

 

applicable to internal disputes such as in Somalia. Chapter VII clearly provides for

 

UN Security Council action in cases of international aggression or even in cases

 

where internal conflict may threaten international peace and security. With the

 

dramatic increase in UN intervention in domestic crises, it is likely that the UN

 

charter will be amended to include "Chapter VI and a half" provisions.

 

With the failure of the UN in Somalia, the UN has suffered significant

 

financial strain and a loss in credibility. In the words of Kofi Annan, UN

 

Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping, "It has done quite a lot of damage to the

 

United Nations. There is no doubt about it."30 Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali

 

has 2 years remaining on his term of office. That is little enough time to accomplish

 

the tasks asked of the UN, such as a reorganization of its staff and its accounting and

 

budgeting procedures. With innumerable hotspots around the world including

 

Bosnia, Angola, and Rwanda, the international community is likely to expect the UN

 

to do more with less.

 

 

 

THE MEDIA'S ROLE

 

The media played a significant role in Operation Restore Hope. Increased

 

media coverage of the famine and starvation in Somalia placed significant pressure

 

on President Bush to take the lead in humanitarian intervention. Favorable coverage

 

of the humanitarian effort in distributing relief supplies helped validate the decision

 

to become involved. What most Americans will remember, however, are the graphic

 

pictures of the Somalis dragging the body of an American servicemen through their

 

streets. Few images could have more quickly turned the American will from

 

sympathy for the plight of the Somalis to outrage and a demand to bring the U.S.

 

forces home.

 

In the opinion of Andrew Kohut, former president of the Gallup

 

Organization. "[t]he media probably has the most negative effect on military

 

operations abroad in the absence of coherent policy and firm leadership that

 

persuasively reiterates the purpose of the use of force throughout the mission."31 The

 

use of force implies potential loss of life. American servicemen lost their lives prior to

 

the October 1993 firefight; and the June 1993 ambush which killed 24 Pakistanis

 

implied a danger to all coalition forces. By October 1993, however, the media was

 

no longer showing pictures of starving Somalis. Consequently, when 18 U.S.

 

soldiers died, the White House did not (or could not) convince the American public

 

that they had died for a "good cause." Should President Clinton elect to use military

 

force in the future, he and his staff must do a much better job of articulating the need

 

for American involvement than was done during the Somalia operation.

 

 

 

THE FUTURE OF U.S. PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

 

What will be the U.S. role in future UN peacekeeping and peacemaking

 

operations? Numerous studies suggest that the American people are supportive of

 

military action under two situations: if it involves American vital interests and if

 

U.S. forces can provide humanitarian relief without becoming involved in protracted

 

armed conflict. Americans are ambivalent over peacekeeping, but have emphatically

 

rejected the peacemaking mission.32

 

There is currently a strong movement in Congress to slash financial support to

 

the UN, which would dramatically degrade its ability to mount future operations.

 

Both the Secretary of Defense and President Clinton oppose such a move; however,

 

UN funding is likely to remain a viable target for congressmen looking to balance the

 

budget in ways that do not directly impact their constituents. In addition to the

 

budget issue, U.S. policymakers are debating the issue of UN command of U.S.

 

forces. For isolationists and UN opponents, this emotional issue continues to play

 

well in congressional and presidential election rhetoric.

 

Although supportive of UN operations in general, President Clinton has

 

clearly learned the lessons of Somalia. His eagerness to send troops to Bosnia has

 

waned significantly in view of consistent public opinion polls against such action.

 

Limited operations involving American interests, such as Operation Restore

 

Democracy in Haiti, are likely to retain the American public's support. As he

 

prepares to run for reelection, President Clinton will weigh carefully the public

 

response to any action involving the use of American military forces abroad.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

In March 1995 the final contingents of UN forces departed Somalia with the

 

assistance of a multi-nation force led by Marine Lieutenant General Anthony Zinni.

 

In retrospect, Operation Restore Hope was a success as a humanitarian effort.

 

Inevitably, it was an abject failure in peacemaking and serves as an indictment

 

against an aggressive UN military posture.

 

Did the American policymakers and military leaders learn the lessons from

 

Somalia? Only "the next time" will answer the most important question about

 

Operation Restore Hope. For the Somalis, warfare and anarchy continue. In

 

Lieutenant General Zinni'z words, "All the hands that have reached out to them have

 

been bitten and are no longer there."33

 

1"Security Council Establishes New UN Operation in Somalia," UN Chronicle,

September 1992, 13.

 

 

2 Ibid., 14.

 

 

3 "U.S. to Spearhead Somalia Relief Force," John D. Morrocco, Aviation Week &

Space Technology, December 7, 1992, 26.

 

 

4 "Somalia," The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia (Grolier Inc., 1992).

 

 

5 "Somali Requests $1.6 Billion in American Arms as Aid," International Defense

Intelligence, July 18, 1983.

 

 

6 "Dealing With Anti-Countries," Strobe Talbot, Time, December 14, 1992 (Time

Inc., Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

7 "Security Council Established New UN Operation in Somalia," UN Chronicle,

September 1992, 13-14.

 

 

8 Ibid.

 

 

9 Ibid.

 

10 "Airlift for Humanity," Time, August 10, 1992, (Time Inc., Magazine Co. and

Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

11 "Lessons Learned; Somalia: A First Look," Colonel Kenneth Allard, U.S. Army,

Institute for National Strategic Studies, (Final Draft), (National Defense

University, Ft. McNair, Washington, DC), 7.

 

 

12 "Force Feeding," Time, September 28, 1992, (Time Inc., Magazine Co. and

Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

13 "The Making of a Quagmire," Brit Hume, National Review, November 1, 1993,

21.

 

 

14 "Taking on the Thugs," Bruce W. Nelan, Time, December 14, 1992, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

15 "An Agenda for Peace," UN Chronicle, September 1992, 3.

 

 

16 "Today Somalia...," Bruce W. Nelan, Time, December 21, 1992, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

17 Ibid.

 

 

18 Allard, 9.

 

 

19 Ibid.

 

 

20 Ibid.

 

 

21 "Elite U.S. Troops to Somalia," Time, September 6. 1993, (Time Inc., Magazine

Co. and Compact Publishing. Inc., 1994).

 

 

22 "Anatomy of a Disaster," George J. Church, Time, October 18, 1993, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing. Inc., 1994).

 

 

23National Security Strategy of the United States, The White House, (U.S.

Government Printing Officer, Washington. DC. August 1991). 11.

 

 

24National Security Strategy of the United States The White House, (U.S.

Government Printing Officer, Washington. DC, January 1993). 7.

 

 

25Ibid., 8.

 

 

26 "The Perils of Good Intentions," Marguerite Michaels, Time, February 7, 1994,

(Time Inc., Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

 

27Allard, 26.

 

 

28 "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention," Richard K. Betts, Foreign Affairs,

November/December 1994, 21.

 

 

29 "From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement: the UN Operation in Somalia."

Ramesh Thakur, The Journal of Modern African Studies, September 1994, 398.

 

 

30 "UN Prepares to Leave Somalia," Associated Press Report from the United

Nations, February 26, 1995, (Prodigy Services Company, 1995).

 

 

31 "Arms and the People," Andrew Kohut and Robert C. Toth, Foreign Affairs,

November/December 1994, 68.

 

 

32 Ibid., 47.

 

 

33 "US-Led Forces Gathers Off Somalia," Associated Press Report from the USS

Belleau Wood, February 22, 1995, (Prodigy Services Company, 1995).

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

"Airlift for Humanity. "Time, 10 August 1992, (Time Inc., Magazine Co. and

Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

Allard, Colonel Kenneth, U.S. Army. "Lessons Learned; Somalia: A First Look,"

Institute for National Strategic Studies, (Final Draft), (National Defense

University, Ft. McNair, Washington, DC).

 

"An Agenda for Peace," UN Chronicle, September 1992: 2-4.

 

Betts, Richard K. "The Delusion of Impartial Intervention." Foreign Affairs,

November/December 1994: 20-33.

 

Church, George J. "Anatomy of a Disaster," Time, 18 October 1993, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

"Elite U.S. Troops to Somalia, "Time, 6 September 1993, (Time Inc., Magazine Co.

and Compact Publishing. Inc., 1994).

 

"Force Feeding," Time, 28 September 1992, (Time Inc., Magazine Co. and Compact

Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

Hume, Brit."The Making of a Quagmire," National Review, 1 November 1993:

21-22.

 

Kohut, Andrew and Toth, Robert C. "Arms and the People." Foreign Affairs

November/December 1994: 47-61.

 

Michaels, Marguerite. "The Perils of Good Intentions," Time 7 February 1994,

(Time Inc., Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

Morrocco, John D. "U.S. to Spearhead Somalia Relief Force," Aviation Week &

Space Technology, 7 December 1992: 26.

 

Nelan, Bruce W. "Taking on the Thugs," Time, 14 December 1992, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

Nelan, Bruce W. "Today Somalia... "Time 21 December 1992, (Time Inc.,

Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing. Inc., 1994).

 

National Security Strategy of the United States The White House, (U.S.

Government Printing Officer, Washington. DC, August 1991).

 

National Security Strategy of the United States. The White House, (U.S.

Government Printing Officer, Washington, DC, January 1993).

 

"Security Council Establishes New UN Operation in Somalia," UN, Chronicle

September 1992: 13-15.

 

"Somalia," The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia (Grolier Inc., 1992).

 

"Somali Request $1.6 Billion in American Arms as Aid," International Defense

Intelligence, 18 July 1983

 

"Security Council Established New UN Operation in Somalia," UN Chronicle,

September 1992, 13-14.

 

Talbot, Strobe. "Dealing With Anti-Countries," Time, 14 December 1992 (Time

Inc., Magazine Co. and Compact Publishing, Inc., 1994).

 

Thakur, Ramesh. "From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement: the UN Operation in

Somalia," The Journal of Modern African Studies September 1994.

 

"US-Led Forces Gathers Off Somalia," Associated Press Report from the USS

Belleau Wood, February 22, 1995, (Prodigy Services Company, 1995).

 

"UN Prepares to Leave Somalia," Associated Press Report from the United Nations,

February 26, 1995, (Prodigy Services Company, 1995).

 



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