Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here Today Gone Somali, DADT A Generational Thing

Ahmed Rashid
Jerry Guo
Salam Fayyad
"When peace is made it will be made between equals." - Mahmoud Darwish

Many interesting events are happening this weekend, with parliamentary elections in Haiti, Egypt, and the Ivory Coast. All you countries with fledgling dictators pay close attention to how Egypt pulls off a professionally run corruption machine. They have kicked out anyone who were going to watch the election from a human rights point of view, maybe to be replaced by watchers from Iraq and Afghanistan... The US and South Korea has gone ahead with its joint naval maneuvers that had been planned to annoy North Korea, this time letting the emotionally underdeveloped younger Ill-Sun to overreact and bring his country to the brink of annihilation. Or maybe their shelling of the South Korean island is just their way of asking for 20 more tons of rice to feed their starving population, as they spend all of their money on armaments... Yep, any minute now...

More delicious, is the spilling of the diplomatic files from Wikileaks. We will have weeks worth of mean and snarky quotes that every newspaper will publish. Sure to embarrass our State Dept, and it will be interesting to see if Hillary steps up and goes on the offensive or steps back and let the fur fly... Will our European and Mid-Eastern friends show tolerance and a sense of humor, or will international relations become incendiary like a show of fireworks on the 4th of July... Will there be any countries left that will welcome the founder of wikileaks, and how many warrants and fatwas will be issued against the poor man...

The pranks of teenagers are becoming more sophisticated, dangerous, and expensive to underwrite. If the FBI had a restricted budget this year, they might not have been able to build the fake car bomb that 19 year old Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was born in Somalia and became a naturalized US citizen, thought was real, and used a cell phone to ignite the fake car bomb he had parked near Portland's Pioneer Square, where a public tree lighting ritual was being performed. FBI agents had befriended the lonely Somali teen two years ago, and slowly egged him on and helped him in his dreams of causing a lot of deaths on American soil: "The F.B.I.’s surveillance started in August 2009 after agents intercepted his e-mails with a man he had met in Oregon who had returned to the Middle East, according to a law enforcement official who described the man as a recruiter for terrorism. According to the affidavit, the man had moved to Yemen and then northwest Pakistan, a center of terrorism activity.

Mr. Mohamud was then placed on a watch list and stopped at the Portland airport in June 2010 when he tried to fly to Alaska for a summer job. Later in June, aware of Mr. Mohamud’s frustrated attempts to receive training as a jihadist overseas, an undercover agent first made contact with him, posing as an associate of the man in Pakistan. On the morning of July 30, the F.B.I. first met with Mr. Mohamud in person to initiate the sting operation.

The planning for the attack evolved from there, with Mr. Mohamud taking an aggressive role, insisting that he wanted to cause many deaths and selecting the Christmas target, according to federal agents. Reminded that many children and families would be at the ceremony, Mr. Mohamud said that he was looking for “a huge mass” of victims, according to the F.B.I."

If the young Mohamud had gone back to Somalia, like many other naturalized teens from Somalia have done, he may never have been taken in by the FBI, and been able to direct his rage in his native country by joining up with the al-Shabab jihadists or moving farther south and becoming a dreaded pirate.

The new, Western-backed government of Somalia is in its infancy, the Prime Minister has only been in office for a month. He doesn't even have full control of the capitol, Mogadishu. Troops from the African Union have been the only thing keeping al-Shabab from taking over the country, which is about 7,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi. Guess the AU has some organizational problems of their own...
“International support is not enough. They don’t take the Somali problem seriously,”
"Uganda and Burundi... are propping up a Western-backed government that has failed to stamp its authority on much more than a slice of the capital.

Two hard-line Islamist insurgent groups control the rest of Mogadishu and much of southern and central Somalia. The African Union troops have so far prevented the rebels from toppling the weak government by defending key sites... While there have been many pledges of international support for the Somali government, incessant infighting and rampant corruption have not helped its cause, while government soldiers have missed out on salaries for months.

Western nations say the Horn of African country has become a safe haven for jihadists training to launch attacks in neighboring countries and further afield.

Somalia’s new prime minister, who has been in office for about a month, plans to recruit 8,000 government troops to push the rebels and foreign fighters in their ranks out of Mogadishu.“My first, second and third priority is improving security. In the first phase we are going to recruit 8,000 government troops,” Mohamed told Reuters in an interview last week.
“Our initial target will be to drive the rebels from the capital Mogadishu and then the rest of the country. We shall not talk to foreign jihadists ... who came here to harass our people and our country.”
Well, then, it looks like our young Mr Mohamud is plain out of luck... Or, we could always pull out of Iraq faster than we agreed to and sent those 50,000 troops to Somalia, on loan to the African Union, much like they are under NATO's thumb in Southwestern Asia... So parents, take some more interest in your teenage children. If they are interested in bomb-making, or jihadist groups, or if they are gullible enough to become befriended by FBI agents, you might consider these signs of a troubled youth, that they are not making the journey through puberty a smooth ride, and might need a little help...

Congress is finally getting around to scheduling a hearing on its Don't Ask Don't Tell policy on homosexuals serving in our military. It will suffer from the Republicans saying NO to every piece of legislation that the Democrats propose, and if it fails to be repealed during this session, it might never happen because it will be a long time before the Dems will control both the House and Senate again...

People's reaction to gays in the military pretty much depends on how old you are. Young people from middle-school through the ages for enlistment don't have any problems because they have grown up in an accepting culture. There are many who have grown up having two mothers, or who know someone who has two mothers, so what's the big deal? There was even a recent study done that showed children raised by lesbian mothers had the most stable environment, with the less breakups and divorce than heterosexual couples... About one in every 10 people are gay, and since the 60's it has become empowering for those to come out of the closet and live openly and honestly, so people who now are in their sixties have worked with, and openly made friends with people who are gay.

The only folks left who are anti-gay usually come from those who are in their '70's on up, like John McCain, who might be in denial of how he fulfilled his own sexual needs when he was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Then, there are those who are very, very conservative, belonging to some Christian splinter group. Many of these folks have positions of power and responsibility in our military and get blindly upset admitting that there are gay people working with them. Paranoia and fear rule their lives, and they transfer those type of thoughts into official policies.

We have always had gays in our military. We should be grateful that there are many patriotic gays who consider a military career and volunteer, because the alternative is bringing back the draft. The paranoid ones say that if DADT is repealed, then the draft will have to be brought back because many people will no longer enlist if they have to live with gays. But this is a dumb argument because the status quo is that our soldiers are living and working with other gay soldiers, whether you ask them or not. If 10% of our military will then be dismissed from the military and others not allowed to volunteer, then we may have to use the draft to get the amount of people to replace them... Besides, what if we had a DADT program for dumb rednecks, there goes another 10%... or DADT for people who like alcohol too much, there goes over half of your army, and you're left with what? Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war...

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