Somalia? History? Who the hell needs research when there's a a movie that tells you everything you need to know - a movie so accurate and so truthful that its Washington premier "attracted Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Oliver North and other military top brass."
Can you guess what the movie is? A listen to NPR's Thursday morning coverage of Somalia piracy might help:
"....there aren't that many great alternatives. Admiral Gortney, the commander of the 5th Fleet says that the best way to deal with this is to create a more stable government in Somalia, but of course the United States tried that before back in 1993, going after the warlord Mohamed Aideed and it led to a lot of bloodshed, in a movie and book called Blackhawk Down."After Bowman and Shapiro, NPR has a second report with Renee Montagne interviewing familiar "expert" - Maj. General Tom Wilkerson of the US Naval Institute. Wilkerson explains that dealing with Somali piracy "is not a Navy problem; it is an American problem and the American leadership has to decide at some point when they're going to accept that the pirates can not have a safe haven on land...." Montagne interjects
"when you suggest trying to deal with a safe haven on land in Somalia - again as Tom Bowman and Ari have just spoke about - that brings up some pretty bad memories for the US: Blackhawk Down and what happened in the early 1990s when they tried to tackle Somalis' militias."Let's review our NPR
Don't get distracted by the fact that from 1977 to 1991 the US poured weapons and support to Somali dictator Barre who wreaked havoc on traditional Somali social structures and pitted clans against each other. And definitely don't bring up the sudden rise in piracy (and death and misery) that followed the US/Ethiopian invasion of Somalia late in 2006. And please don't worry about the basic distortions of events and facts in the Pentagon-approved (and revised) movie about Somalia. And...
Let's just say that there's a wee bit of danger in relying on racist, grossly inaccurate movies to simplistically retell and reshape the past. Then again movies like Blackhawk Down, in which there are good guys (us) and evil bad guys (them) do give one (or certain reporters at least) a certain warm, clannish reassurance about our past - what a notion!