President Trump is withdrawing most American troops from Somalia, and establishment Republican Senator Roy Blunt is livid, declaring that “in Somalia…and Iraq and Afghanistan…none of those places are nearly as secure if we leave as they are if we’re there.” Somali Senator Ayub Ismail Yusuf agrees: “U.S. troops have made a huge contribution and had great impact on the training and operational effectiveness of Somali soldiers.” The jihad terror group al-Shabaab is still quite active; those soldiers must be not all that effective, and U.S. troops are not going to wipe out the jihadis. Trump is right: American troops have no business being in Somalia.
In his State of the Union address on February 5, 2019, Trump stated: “As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.”
Indeed. After all these years, twenty-six years after the Black Hawk incident, most Americans would be surprised to learn we even have troops in Somalia. Al-Shabaab arose and committed multiple jihad massacres during that period. In Somalia as in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the U.S. has sacrificed the lives of heroic service members and squandered untold amounts of money in the fond hope that it could create stable, Western-style republics that would respect the human rights of all their citizens.
But this is going to take time, according to the foreign policy establishment, and so we must remain in Somalia, Afghanistan, and who knows where else. As one of these massively failed “experts” observed, Afghanistan “is not going to become Switzerland overnight,” and it is likely he would say the same thing about Somalia.
Great. So we know now after twenty-six years that it isn’t going to happen overnight, but how long is it going to take? Five more years in Somalia? Ten? Twenty? One hundred? Should we make Somalia the 51st state, with Ilhan Omar as its governor?
The advocates of endless intervention have no answer to the question of how long we should stay, and the real answer is that no amount of time that American troops stay in Somalia will make it a peaceful, prosperous, stable country. Somalia will never be a Western-style republic and will likely never be free of al-Shabaab without a massive transformation of Somali society, no matter how long we stay, and such a transformation is not on the horizon.
And so Trump has the right idea. Instead of chasing utopian fantasies in Somalia or anywhere else, the U.S. should instead, with all due respect to Ayub Ismail Yusuf, focus on what is best for America. That would involve working to contain jihad activity in Somalia and elsewhere, and to ensure that al-Shabaab does not and cannot engage in international jihad terror plotting, while otherwise leaving the Somalis to their own devices.
America’s tragic misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the continuing presence of America troops in Somalia and all over the world, make it clear that a new foreign policy strategy is urgently needed, and that the ideas and assumptions that have governed U.S. foreign policy for nearly a century needed to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
President Trump was working toward that new foreign policy, with notable success regarding Israel and its neighbors. But now the globalist, internationalist empire has struck back, and Trump’s foreign policy gains are likely to be rolled back, as the forces that are responsible for our seemingly endless string of foreign policy disasters will soon be back in the saddle. President Biden, or President Harris, could send the troops that Trump withdraws right back into Somalia.
Trump said last September, “the top people in the Pentagon…want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy. But we’re getting out of the endless wars, you know how we’re doing.” He is getting us out of Somalia. But His Fraudulency Joe Biden, wanting to keep the Masters of War happy, may get us right back in.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.