Invisible Empire: America's Unseen Atrocity in Somalia

As we have often noted here before, there is a third major military front in the "War on Terror": Somalia, where the Bush Administration and its proxies have spawned yet another living hell of chaos, corruption, mass death and displacement – while greatly exacerbating the very extremism and terrorism that the invasion was ostensibly designed to quell.

Yet despite the fact that George W. Bush and his henchman, Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi, have created what many experts call the greatest humanitarian disaster on Earth in Somalia, their "regime change" invasion remains almost completely unknown to the American public, and virtually invisible in the American corporate media. We've been writing about it here, in piecemeal fashion, for more than a year; a few other venues – particularly African websites --  have also been tracking various strands of Somalia's agonizing descent. Now the Independent's Steve Bloomfield has put together the best overview I've yet seen of where Somalia stands today – neck-deep in blood and suffering – and how it got there: Somalia: The World's Forgotten Catastrophe.

Bloomfield covers all the bases, especially the elements of American involvement that have been ignored, downplayed or distorted by the Homeland press: the U.S. bomb attacks on refugees and shepherds; the "renditions" of fleeing refugees – including American citizens – to Ethiopia's torture-heavy dungeons; the use of American death squads sent in after bombing raids with orders to "kill anyone left alive;" the CIA bagmen paying off warlords (including some with American blood on their hands) and crimelords to do Bush's bidding; and, as always, the destruction of political and religious moderates, leaving a void to be filled by co-opted cronies and tools at one end, and unbridled extremists at the other.

(That last element is noteworthy feature of all of the "regime change" operations, and of the Terror War in general. Each one has radicalized vast swathes of the populations under attack, while driving out moderates, technocrats, professionals: anyone who cannot easily be bought or manipulated – or provoked into some violent action that will "justify" American domination. Indeed, this profitable and politically expedient exacerbation of terror and extremism is such a deep-rooted characteristic of the "regime change" wars that it would take a mighty act of will to believe that it is not deliberate.)

Bloomfield is also excellent on the history leading up to American-Ethiopian invasion, going all the way back to the "Black Hawk Down" days -- the fruit of another incursion by a president named George Bush, which resulted not only in the famous death and despoiling of 18 Americans, but also the almost-never mentioned slaughter of hundreds of Somalis by the trigger-happy humanitarian interventionists. But it is in the complex twists and turns of recent history that Bloomfield really shines, making lucid what is usually left in vague murk. And he frames the story with portraits of its most important element: the individual human beings whose lives have been crippled or destroyed by the profiteers and power-gamers of the Terror War.

Anyone with even the slightest interest in discerning the reality of the Terror War imperium should read Bloomfield's entire piece post-haste. You will certainly never read anything like it in the American press – and it goes without saying that not a whisper of this American-fueled slaughter will ever surface in the presidential race, where "progressives" and "conservatives" alike are united in their fealty to the Terror War. Below are a few brief excerpts (after the jump) to help set the scene; but again, you will do yourself a disservice if you don't read the whole thing.   

For more, see:
'Kill Anyone Still Alive': American Special Ops in Somalia
Getting Away With It: Rendition and Regime Change in Somalia
Where the Dead Rot in the Streets: Bush's Terror War in Somalia Rages On

From the Independent:

The first US airstrike was carried out on 7 January 2007 – its first and only publicly acknowledged military operation inside Somalia since 1994. Two AC-130 helicopter gunships, flown from an airbase in eastern Ethiopia, carpet-bombed a convoy of trucks moving through Ras Kamboni, a fishing village near the Kenyan border that has also been home to an al-Qa'ida training camp.

A team of US special forces based in Kenya's Manda Bay flew in after the airstrike with orders to kill anyone left alive and find out who had died. The mission was instantly declared a success. Those attacked were "senior al-Qa'ida leadership", the Pentagon said.....There was only one problem. According to local Somalis, and confirmed by western diplomats and aid officials in Nairobi, none of the dead was connected to the [Islamic] Courts [or al Qaeda]. Instead, a group of pastoralists gathering around a fire to keep the mosquitoes away had been killed.

....Mogadishu has been rocked by almost daily violence. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the crossfire, thousands injured. Ethiopia's original plan, drafted with the US, foresaw a two-month-long military operation. By the beginning of March last year Ethiopian troops would begin to withdraw. That hasn't happened. Instead, frustrated by the growing insurgency, Ethiopia has been forced to increase its numbers.....As the insurgency in Mogadishu has grown, so too has the influence of its hardline leaders. The conservatives who headed the Islamic Courts have been sidelined...

Somalia is now experiencing its worst period of violence in two decades. The daily battles between Ethiopian-backed government forces and the insurgents have had a devastating impact on the population....More than 600,000 people fled Mogadishu last year. Around 200,000 are now living in squalid impromptu refugee camps along a 15km-stretch of road outside the capital. According to UN officials it is the largest concentration of displaced people anywhere in the world. Those same officials now consider Somalia to be the worst humanitarian catastrophe in Africa, eclipsing even Darfur in its sheer horror.