Somalia

Shiver Me Neocons

by Jeff Huber

It was only a matter of time before Long Bill Kristol and his scurvy dogs of war used piracy as an excuse to goad young Mr. Bush into invading one last country before the door hits him. In the latest gurgitation of the Weekly Standard, Bill suggests that the best thing young Mr. Bush can do in his final days as commander in chief is send the Marines into Somalia to deep six those pesky buccaneers. Now: if we can't identify and capture pirates while they're plundering ships on the bounding main, I'd like to know how the yo-ho-ho Bill thinks the Marines can tell the pirates from the rest of the poor starving Somalis once they go ashore.

Springtime in Somalia

It looks like we’re still using U.S. Navy warships to assassinate suspected terrorists in Somalia. The New York Times said, “at least four Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a Navy ship or submarine off the Somali coast had slammed into a small compound of single-story buildings in Dusa Marreb.”

The NYT’s source for that information was an “American military official in Washington, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operation.” Notice how operations these days are “sensitive” as opposed to “classified” or “secret.” One has to wonder how they arrived at a world like “sensitive” to describe things like cruise missile attacks that kill people. Then again, so many of these missile strikes kill people other than the people they were intended to kill that yeah, I guess American military officials in Washington might get sensitive about that aspect. The NYT reported that 10 to 30 people other than the intended target were killed this time, and we can be pretty sure that part of the story is mostly true because the NYT didn’t get it from an anonymous American military official.

Jeff Huber's Week Endnotes

Here are the stories that got my attention this week.

1. Robin Wright and Joby Warrick, “U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan,” Washington Post, Thursday.
Wright and Warrick note that U.S. strikes on al Qaeda sites (i.e., “villages”) in Pakistan are taking place in accord with “a tacit understanding with Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan.” My question is, and has been, who in the U.S. is ordering these operations and under what authority? I’ve also asked this question about Somalia, where we’re also bombing selected al Qaeda villages.

GWOT Chronicles: Strategy Schmategy


"Isn't it odd that after a terrorist attack that relied on $2 box-cutters, we are redoubling our pursuit of fantastical weaponry?" — Robert Scheer

Someday we Americans will look back on our Global War on Terror and ask ourselves what the hell we thought we were doing. Here’s one of our latest shenanigans.

In case you hadn't noticed, we're using nuclear submarines to assassinate terrorists these days. That’s not the most efficient way to assassinate terrorists, but it’s the most expensive, so it has that going for it.

Even assassinating terrorists with B-2 stealth bombers wouldn’t be as expensive as doing it with nuclear submarines. B-2s cost a ridiculous amount of money, all right, but not as much as the subs. The subs carry a lot more people and take a lot longer to get where they’re going, so the people in them have to eat and sleep and so forth. The two pilots in a B-2 eat box lunches and can go to the bathroom without getting up from their seats. And then there are those expensive nuclear reactors, which nuclear submarines have and B-2s don’t.

And as ridiculous as the cost of an F-22 air-to-air stealth fighter is, it’s less ridiculous than the cost of a B-2 stealth bomber, and there are other drawbacks to using an F-22 to assassinate terrorists as well.