The U.S. at War - A History of Shame
"My God was Bigger Than His"
The New World Order Invasion of Somalia
Revolution #020, October 30, 2005, posted at revcom.us
"I knew that my God was bigger than his."
- Lt. General William G. "Jerry" Boykin, named Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence after making this statement about the time he headed the U.S. Army’s Delta Force in Somalia.
Obscenely named “Operation Restore Hope,” U.S. and “allied” troops invaded and occupied Somalia in the early 1990s, bringing a reign of terror. The occupation came to an abrupt end shortly after the “Battle of Mogadishu,” when Somali fighters shot down two U.S. helicopters, and thousands of Somalis attacked downed U.S. troops. Eighteen U.S. troops were killed, and 84 wounded.
It is instructive to look back at the U.S. invasion and occupation of Somalia in the context of the current argument that one must “support the troops” when the U.S. government sends them to invade, plunder, and terrorize people around the world. And it is also useful to remember Somalia when the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force commander, Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, announces that occupied, post-Katrina New Orleans “...is going to look like Little Somalia.”
Imposing the “New World Order”
While the invasion of Somalia was marketed “operation restore hope,” and was supposed to provide food to starving people, Colin Powell revealed the real goal when he stated at the time that pulling U.S. troops out of Somalia would be “devastating to our hopes for the New World Order ..." George Bush I's post-cold war “New World Order” had, in part, the objective of creating a monopoly of U.S. power in regions of the world where the former Soviet Union had held influence, including the horn of Africa where Somalia is located. When he was elected, President Clinton kept U.S. troops in Somalia, while adding tens of thousands of UN troops to the occupation.
The book Black Hawk Down (which accepts and promotes the official justification for the invasion) gives a picture of the mindset of the U.S. troops in Somalia. They strutted around like they owned the world and had the right—and the power—to fuck anyone or anything they wanted. They greeted each other with "Hoo-ah!" They considered Somalis less than human, calling them "skinnies" or "sammies." This mindset was a reflection of widespread racist vilification of the Somali people, Africans, and Black people in general as uncivilized savages. NBC News Executive Producer Jeff Gralnick, for instance, called Somali clan leader (and target of U.S. occupation) Mohammed Farrah Aidid an "educated jungle bunny."
U.S. troops often flew their powerful Black Hawk helicopters low over markets, streets and neighborhoods at any hour of the day or night. The intense downdraft from the helicopter blades damaged and destroyed entire neighborhoods, blowing down homes, mosques, market stalls and walls. It would terrify cattle. Women would have clothes torn off their bodies and infants torn out of their arms.
On one raid, the U.S. troops handcuffed a woman who would not stop screaming. Finally, a half hour later, a translator arrived and discovered that her baby had been blown down the street by the downdraft from the Black Hawk just before the U.S. troops handcuffed her. On September 19, 1993, helicopters from the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division shot missiles into a crowd, killing 100 unarmed people.
Elite U.S. “Ranger” units would quickly converge on their target, destroy the building or kidnap people, then just as quickly be picked up by the helicopters and disappear from the area. In one raid, aimed at grabbing Aidid, a secret U.S. army team mistakenly kidnapped a Somali general who the U.S. was grooming to help run the country. They laid waste to his home before realizing their mistake and letting him go.
Black Hawk Down
Even without progressive, much less revolutionary leadership or organization, the Somali people waged a ferocious and self-sacrificing struggle against U.S. occupation that came to a head in the famous “Black Hawk Down” battle on October 3, 1993. In that battle, Jerry “My god was bigger than his” Boykin's troops were pinned down for hours, under seige by thousands of Somali people.
The battle began when a Somali fighter with an RPG (a shoulder-fired rocket) shot down a Black Hawk in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Somalis, including thousands of unarmed people, poured into the combat zone. In the course of the fighting, another Black Hawk was shot down and two more Black Hawks were hit but limped back and crashed at their base.
People from all over the city of Mogadishu armed and unarmed, attacked downed Army Rangers from every side. Battle locations were communicated by smoking tires. Neighborhood patrols gathered their fighters and weapons by word of mouth. The book Black Hawk Down describes instance after instance of amazing courage and determination, from the perspective of shocked U.S. soldiers. U.S. troops were stunned that unarmed civilians would rush toward a firefight and not away from it, and to see women and children shooting at them! At the cost of at least hundreds of lives, the Somali people cracked the aura of invincibility that the U.S. was trying to project through terror in Somalia.
Shortly after the Black Hawk down battle, the U.S. withdrew from Somalia, bringing to a close this particular chapter in the history of U.S. wars of shame.