Friday, March 21, 2008

The One Hand Tied Dodge

Abu Mook reminds me that it's about time to check in, again, on our Horn of Africa Champion du jour, the brutal Zenawi regime in Ethiopia. For those unfamiliar with the background story, in December of 2006, a bevy of conservative pundits were singing the praises of the Ethiopian approach to warfare during its US-backed invasion of neighboring Somalia. This armchair Clausewitz set was asserting, emphatically, that Ethiopia's unchecked brutality, disregard for human rights and contempt for critical media coverage would lead to the swift eradication of any insurgency that might erupt in vanquished Somalia.

In fact, many of these self-styled military strategists went as far as to suggest that our officers could learn a thing or two from their Ethiopian counterparts. Alas, it was acknowledged by our would-be adivsors with a wistful sorrow, our society has lost its stomach for such brutality due to liberal indoctrination, and thus the lessons would likely go unlearned. The sighs were audible.

So how are our putative mentors doing some 15 months on in their campaign?

Islamist insurgents cut off the heads of three Somali soldiers south of the capital on Thursday and the U.N. special envoy said he would try to set up peace talks between the opposition and government.

It was the first case of beheadings since the government and its Ethiopian military allies ousted the Islamists from power in late 2006, sparking a bloody insurgency characterized by roadside bombs and hit-and-run attacks.

"This morning the mujahideen attacked the so-called government troops guarding the roads for the Ethiopian forces. We killed three of them," said Muktar Ali Robow, a senior commander of the Islamists' Shabab youth wing.

"We did what we promised to them. People traveling in that road can be asked how we killed them," he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. [...]

At least 7,000 people have died, and hundreds of thousands been displaced in the 15-month insurgency, creating what aid workers call one of the world's worst yet most ignored humanitarian crises.

And if it wasn't for those meddling do-gooders, we too could be enjoying a counterinsurgency operation every bit as successful. When will we learn.

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