Saturday, December 23, 2006

Three Cheers for Ethiopia

According to this and other reports, Ethiopia is taking on a much bigger role in the current Somali civil war. This is excellent news that shows at least some people in the world take the threat of Islamic extremism seriously and are ready to contest its expansion. All of Somalia falling to the Islamic Courts Union would obviously be very bad. Al Qaeda has had a long relationship with Somalia and the last thing the world needs is a Talibanesque failed state controlling shipping through the Red Sea (and thereby the Suez Canal). Just as Afghanistan served as a safe haven for terrorists operating throughout the world, so too would Somalia.

While we apparently aren't willing to act to prevent such a scenario from developing, it is heartening to see that one country is. Ethiopia may be very poor and of limited capabilities but it has had a long history of dealing with expansionist Muslims. As a Christian state since the 4th Century and the only one in the region for 1,000 years, it was frequently at war with the Muslims who surround it. As one of the countries to be sold out prior to World War II, the Ethiopians also know all too well how far Western democracies will go to get a few more years of “peace”. They know who the first target will be after a radical Islamist Somalia radicalizes other Muslims in the region. They also know what the West will be willing to do to keep those radical Muslims away from us for a few more years.

As with the Israelis in Lebanon, when the Ethiopian soldiers go forth to fight the ICU, they are fighting our fight also. We will benefit greatly if Ethiopia can halt the spread of the Islamic radicals in the Horn of Africa. As such I can only hope that we are giving Ethiopia our full support in this endeavor. We don’t need to contribute large numbers of soldiers but only maybe a few hundred of the Special Forces soldiers stationed in Djibouti. That and a billion dollars in aid/weapons would be enough to help Ethiopia defeat the ICU. Of course Europe should help also, but seeing as they haven’t sent the promised aid and combat capable soldiers to Afghanistan I wouldn’t expect any support from that corner. Especially not when European politicians realize they can score political points with Muslim voters by opposing Ethiopia.

Again I can only really, really hope that we are doing something to support Ethiopia. If we are going to win this war in the long-term, we need to get other countries in the world who are directly threatened by Islamic extremists to start taking action against it. So far most are willing to let the US largely bear the cost of the enterprise. As the country that is the least directly threatened long-term by Islamic extremism (by which I mean we, unlike even Europe, don’t face the risk of Sharia law here if we don’t win), this inequitable distribution of cost is becoming harder and harder to sell to the American people. Ethiopia has shown they will take up the burden; we need to make it as easy for them as possible. The last thing I would hope is that Ethiopia will prosecute its campaign with much more vigor than the either us or the Israelis have so far shown.


  1. This is very interesting. I had no idea that Ethiopia had any ability or interest whatsoever in trying to fight Islamic extremists. When I think Ethiopia I think poor and starvation. Very informative post!

  2. That's why I think we should really help them. It almost seems that in the world today the willingness to do something is inversely proportional to the ability to do something. They have a long history of conflict with Somalia, including a war over eastern Ethiopia (Ogaden) in the 70's, and they know that there is still a Somali irredentist feeling that would be toxic when combined with Islamic extremism. It's also become clearer that if someone is going to stop this from happening it's going to have to be them.

  3. Its good to hear someone out there is taking care of their own business and not begging us to do it for them. So I'll give them three cheers also.

  4. Thanks for the comment Phil, I think I'll do so again also.

  5. "The last thing I would hope is that Ethiopia will prosecute its campaign with much more vigor than the either us or the Israelis have so far shown."

    Why, in your opinion, is this Israel's responsibility?

  6. I'm guessing that you mean why do I think Somalia is Israel's problem? I don't, I'm referring to Hezbollah and Hamas. I hope that the Ethiopians are much more vigorous in their campaign against the ICU than Israel was in her campaign against Hezbollah and Hamas last summer. If I mistook your question I apologize, thanks for the comment.