Dealing with symptoms while causes run free

I’m not sure whether Mark Malan is trying to make a realist or idealist case for Somalia, but no force of the sizes contemplated would be able to control the southern half of that country, on the ground, against the will of its fighting factions. But if we are talking coalition, how about one with a primarily maritime and maritime air component? Somalia is just the right shape for naval aviation (including helicopters). Most of the NATO Response Force is afloat and not doing so much; why not use it to halt piracy in east African/Horn waters, promoting commerce, and to interdict the airborne khat trade, forcing Somalia to sober up? Then, under its wing, try some well-protected, on-scene mediation. Meanwhile, any group that interferes with food distribution gets a prompt visit from the overwatch.

In principle, the same sort of overwatch could support UNAMID, as Darfur is about the same size and shape as southern Somalia. But Darfur isn’t lucky enough to have an ocean–or a stable, friendly country with big airbases–a few minutes flying time from trouble. Meaning that supportive airpower would need to be based in Sudan, and why not? That’s where the problem is. UNAMID faces a functional, predatory state manipulating the fate of peoples and peacekeepers to its ongoing advantage. That is why I previously stressed the limits of dealing with symptoms when causes run free; the government in Khartoum has played the international community–and its own population–for two decades, yet those who would help persist in trying to drink from a full-pressure fire hose instead of changing the decisions of those who control the hydrant. This will require concerted major power pressure on Khartoum, with Chinese cooperation, in pursuit of a solution that will do a better job of keeping the oil flowing than will continued instability.

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