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U.S. aid will help Somalia, not intervention

John P. Gamboa, Staff Columnist
The Daily Aztec at San Diego State University

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Iraq is often compared to the likeness of Vietnam, given its undefined goals. If Iraq is Vietnam, then Somalia is Cambodia in the "Domino Theory of Terrorism" in the 21st century.

The feared domino effect of the country is not of Communism, but of the terrorist-like nature of fundamental Islam. Westerners fear that in broken and dispirited nations such as Somalia, al-Qaida-type teachings can be easily inundated into the public, as is already the case in Somalia.

Somalia, located in the horn of eastern Africa, is a nation with a troubled past. Somalis have been subjected to tribal wars, collapsed governments, religious violence, invasion and secession all in the last 15 years.

However, the recent surge of violence in this impoverished nation has led to a war along the border between the neighboring nation of Ethiopia (which is also allying with the Transitional Federal Government with the use of an American-trained Ethiopian army) and the Islamic Courts Union, which has a threatening, war-like extremist government.

While Ethiopian forces and the TFG are occupying the capital city, several questions are raised about America's continuing presence in the region. During the beginning of the conflict, an American C-130 gunship fired on supposed Somali al-Qaida syndicates and has sent in two waves of attacks from helicopters to aid the TFG and Ethiopian forces in pushing out the ICU.

The United States' pseudo-involvement raises speculation as to whether a second intervention is necessary in the region after forces have already been stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan with dwindling homefront support.

A full-scale involvement would be catastrophic for the region and would only bring more chaos and reason for al-Qaida terrorists to increase their terror campaign. That would result in even more violence from people outside the country to fight against the American military force.

The existence of terrorist support from al-Qaida in the Somali region is not an immediate threat to the United States, nor is it a reason to immediately send troops into containment and control the region.

Because Somalia has been under the grasp of a warrior-like, tribal government and judiciary system, movie theaters have been banned and the Islamic law was in practice by the tribes circumventing any form of government.

If America hopes to help the African Union and TFG bring stability back into the region, funding these organizations would be the best way. Money to be used to set up a government by peaceful means is the only way to create a stable nation. Continued fighting between secular and religious forces will only increase the strife in the region. For this reason, the Ethiopian military should pull out. Ethiopia's exit would ease tensions of a foreign military in the country, along with a more diplomatic approach by the African Union to show that Africa cares to fix the region, and not the American-funded Ethiopians.

The American government must realize, especially when the African Union gets involved, that Somalia is an African issue, and Africa hopes to contain and stabilize it with its own military.

Proxy support by monetary and humanitarian aide will be the best way to install a stable government. It'll take a lot of effort to convince the region to embrace a secular government when the popular opinion from the people and tribal groups lean more toward a government like the one that existed prior to the war.

The issue of terrorism isn't present because it's a domino nation - instead it's because of the poverty. If the United States can take some money away from its $462 billion defense budget, even $1 billion could be used to help support the nation's economy. The prosperous and healthy growth could counteract the fundamental ideas of terrorism and suicide bombings that prey on poverty, to counteract the domino effect. Somalia will stop the effect before it can even reach the Atlantic with continuing support. Aide and support will end terrorism, not war.

John P. Gamboa is a pre-journalism sophomore.
San Diego State University

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