Check out this recent article from the New York Times about the role the Unites States continues to play in Somalia: U.S. Relies on Contractors in Somalia Conflict. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk – people in the US vividly remember Black Hawk Down and the failure of our direct military efforts in Somalia in the 90s, but we also realize Al Shabaab is a threat to our security.
Many of our covert military activities abroad seem to involve ways to support wars that are being waged by others (like the Ugandan troops currently fighting in Somalia) while avoiding the domestic political fallout of engaging directly, and also trying not to invoke the vengeance of terrorists who might carry out retribution attacks on Americans.
This reality also complicates the world of foreign aid, which people often forget is designed to support our strategic interests rather than having an exclusively humanitarian goal. We are much more likely to turn a blind eye to Uganda using aid funds in inappropriate ways when they are fighting a war for us in Somalia.
Mark D. Jordahl