THE BLOG
12/22/2006 07:43 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Americans Voted for Diplomacy. Now Bush Wants to Extend the War to Somalia

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, December 22, 2006

In the November elections, Americans rejected President Bush's war policy in the Middle East. Recent polls show a majority want U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007. In a Newsweek poll in October, a majority opposed U.S. air strikes against Iran, even though the question was asked in a way that might have been expected to draw a positive response: do you support "air strikes against military targets and suspected nuclear sites in Iran" if Iran "continues its efforts to develop nuclear weapons" (so far the claim that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons remains an unproven allegation.)

But the Bush Administration seems to think that it's Opposite Day. The White House wants to increase U.S. troops in Iraq, even though this is opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It's ramping up its threats against Iran by sending more warships to the Persian Gulf.

And now, the Washington Post reported this week, it's given a "green light" for Ethiopia to send troops into Somalia to make war with the Islamic Courts Union. Former State Department official John Prendergast says U.S. support for Ethiopia's military incursion has "incalculably strengthened" the Courts' appeal to Somali nationalism.

The Post says a widespread view in Ethiopia's capital is that Prime Minister Meles is using the conflict in Somalia to distract people from internal problems and to justify further repression of opposition groups. Opponents of war in Ethiopia say he is playing up the claim there are al-Qaeda operatives within the Islamic Courts Union to maintain support of the U.S., which relies on a steady flow of Ethiopian intelligence some regional analysts say is of dubious value.

Indeed, even Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte has expressed skepticism about the claim that the Islamic Courts Union is directed by Al Qaeda.

But that hasn't stopped the Bush Administration from supporting war in Somalia.

Until this week, the escalating conflict in Somalia hadn't drawn much attention in the U.S. press. If the situation is allowed to spin out of control yet another civil war could be added to the list fostered by the Bush Administration. It's not too late to turn back - the European Union is facilitating peace talks between the Islamic Courts Union and the U.S.-backed government in Somalia.

People in Somalia and Ethiopia have suffered terribly from war. The least the U.S. could do would be not to promote another one. Congress needs to speak up. The Post reported that a recent attempt in Congress to sanction the Ethiopian government for widespread human rights abuses failed after former Republican House leader Dick Armey, lobbying on behalf of the Ethiopian government, argued that the US needs Ethiopia in order to fight terrorism. Congressional representatives need to hear from their consituents that we don't want the U.S. to be responsible for another war. Write your representatives today.