What Needs To Happen in Somalia?

October 29, 2011

Political Theory

Somalia has been in the news lately for a lot of the wrong reasons.  Just this week Kenyan armed forces entered into Southern Somalia to try to restore order on the border between the two countries.  This was done in response to the recent kidnappings in Kenyan hotels and resorts by Somalian Al-Shabaab soldiers.  The Kenyan government has told tourists security it is safe to vacation in their country; but the numbers are going way down.  So in response they took action and moved into Somalia and that move is being questioned by some.

        Some have said the move by Kenya to invade Somalia and try to create a “buffer zone” is not a genuine one.  According to an article on BBC News by Andrew Harding, “the theory goes that the recent kidnappings of foreigners in Kenya were merely a convenient pretext for the invasion.”  I personally don’t know what the real reason for moving into Somalia was; but I do know, Somalia has many problems with a dysfunctional government.  There has been no real and true government in Somalia since 1991 which brings me to my point of this post.  The new conflict between Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and Kenya brings two things from our Political Theory class into play.

By following this story I have learned a lot about Somalia and Kenya.  First of all I have found it unbelievable the amount of hardship and famine that happens in Somalia.  It is depressing because countries like the U.S. and other developed countries send so much aid to help the Somalian people and it is not enough.  The worst part is the aid sent to the Somalian population is often stolen by groups such as Al-Shabaab, these groups are trying to seize control of the government and thus gain power.  I believe this relates to our class because of the Hobbesian State of Nature that is occurring in Somalia.  There is no sense of government in the country and in turn nearly no order.  Hobbes says there must be a strong “Leviathan” to instill order in the people of the country; and without that chaos and anarchy will result.  The photos I have seen of Somalia lately most definitely show a state of nature.

The other country in this newly formed conflict is Kenya.  Kenya had a thriving tourism industry which has been put into reverse because of the concern for safety.  As I previously mentioned people have been questioning the true motives for the Kenyan intrusion into Somalia.  I don’t know the real reason; but there are some interesting theories.  One would be to create a “buffer” from the possible attacks, which is very likely.  Another being Kenya wants to increase security for the previously thriving tourism industry in their country.  The latter would be some sort of a Lockian argument.  The intrusion could be for the protection of the property, such as the hotels, and in turn the tourism industry which employs countless people.  Personally, I don’t think it matters why they moved in to Somalia.  If people are disappearing and being kidnapped something must be done.  If property is being protected, it’s just another byproduct of what is happening.

In conclusion, this newly formed conflict is something, I’m sure  will be in the world news in the future.  Hopefully it will be able to bring attention to a country that really needs help.  I wonder if the country will ever be able to get a fully functional government and be able to give it’s citizens a good quality of life.  What needs to be done to get Somalia out of it’s so called state of nature?  Ideas?



Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

6 Comments on “What Needs To Happen in Somalia?”

  1. Patrick Biondi Says:

    I understand what you are saying, for the state of nature to cease in Somalia, they need a figure that could rise up and support the voice of the nation’s people, however, the solution is much more complex than this. The biggest thing that needs to happen to change the current situation in Somalia is there needs to be someone or some group that can forcefully oppose the Al-Shabaab. Right now, there is more or less a terrorist organization running the country in every aspect, so even if the majority of Somalia’s citizens opposed this rule (which they probably do) they need to be armed or protected by some one or some group, otherwise their opposition means nothing.

    Also, this has been going on for a very long time in Somalia. You eluded to the fact that they haven’t had a stable or true government since 1991 and I think it’s fair to say that this state of nature has been in affect for most of the past two decades. With this being said, if this type of terrorist rule has been in place for almost 20 years, is it to the point where other countries intervene to protect the rights of humanity? With the current war the United States is in, it is not a real possibility that they would run to the aid of Somalians, but should other countries try to help? should The United States try to help if they weren’t engaged in a war? I don’t blame Kenya for engaging in conflict with the Al-Shabaab, because the current state of Somalia is affecting their countries safety and economy. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that the Al-Shabaab would want to expand their rule and extend into Kenya.

  2. Patrick Biondi Says:

    country’s * safety

  3. Hüseyin Öylü Says:

    I think that you’re absolutely right by making the claim that industrialized countries should mobilize their powers to help countries like Somalia out of their political, economic and humanitarian snafu. Not out of selfish reasons, but because of their moral duty to do so.
    In current world politics we observe a situation where the actions of states are driven by selfish reasons. Be it economic or political, states always try to improve their position relative to their enemies and rivals. This behavior is necessary due to the lack of a universal world government, who panelizes bad actions. If states don’t watch after themselves, they will face violent end (or violent death, how Hobbes would say). Therefore states invest trillions of dollars in armament and security, just to protect themselves from a surprise attack. Even humanitarian help, in some cases, can be seen as selfish act by, for instance, enhancing reputation or by pursuing political interests under the guise of helping other countries.
    In my opinion, it is time to establish a system which gives states incentives to pursue their moral duties without having the constant fear of being punished for doing so. If this is the case, the help might even reach the people who need it, and won’t vanish in mysterious ways or misused by political leaders, as it is today.

  4. krsau Says:

    Somalia is a country where there is no quick fix. There are, I believe, many different tribes or clans in Somalia each with its own warlord striving to gain control. Unfortunately all of the other clans are willing to die to not give power to the others. I read the book “Black Hawk Down” awhile back (many of you may just remember the movie, which was good, but the book had more background in it) and I learned a little about it. Somalia is mostly Muslim, so any intervention by the U.S. would be considered by some to be a holy war (it is an easy term to bring up considering the past decade of two wars in Muslim states). This was the excuse used back in the conflict that created the “Black Hawk Down” operation. Then, like now, there were thousands of poor unarmed men using drugs and led to believe and fight for their clan against U.S. Rangers in a jihad. It was one of the worst disasters in American military history.

    Somalia doesn’t necessarily want our help. Does it need it? In someways yes, but if we were to intervene we would most likely face a similar situation like we had in the time of “Black Hawk Down”. Intervention may even fuel more anti-American spirit amongst other muslim nations who see this as an opportunity we are taking to attack muslims.

    For Somalia to escape their state of nature they will need to decide to do so on their own and have the majority join forces behind ONE leviathan. The U.S. with all of the good intentions in the world can’t create this unless the Somalian people are willing to base their alliances upon what is best for their country and not their clan. Let us hope they can.

  5. nnvirani Says:

    I agree with what you say regarding the need for attention to be brought to the crisis and that action must be taken. When a country is in a state of nature, they are lacking vital components necessary for a nation to grow and prosper. Above all else, the lack of protection by a government-run army keeps the nation exposed to being attacked. In this case, Somalia is in a vulnerable state because they do not have the necessary resources to defend themselves. Kenya has an economy that is very stimulated by tourism. Similar to the roots of most of the World’s problems, money is the basis for these Kenyan attacks. The argument that they are “protecting themselves” is very misleading. Kenyans do not feel threatened that they will be invaded and taken over. Rather, their actions can be attributed to a desire to restore the feeling of safety which is necessary for successful tourism. To answer the question, Somalia would have to get rid of the terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab because not only are they giving an entire nation a bad name, they are also using up resources and creating situations where other countries try to invade them. This is similar to other groups like Al-Qaeda which give a whole country a bad name. The elimination of these groups is the most necessary step to solving the state of nature problem.

  6. mzselig Says:

    The conditions the Somali people are living in are truly horrible and the actions taken by the Al-Shabaab soldiers are even more horrible. The lack of any semblance of government in Somalia puts not only Somalis at risk but the neighboring countries at risk as well, as shown in this article involving Kenya.
    The lack of any control on Somalia has directly effected Kenya and its people so the government of Kenya has stepped in to protect its people; these actions fall under the primary category for a government’s existence, national defense. The people of Kenya are being directly effected by Al-Shabaab so the government has an obligation to its people to protect them from any outside threat. This covenant between the people and the government in Kenya is being carried out in the government’s military actions against the Al-Shabaab soldiers near the Kenyan boarder. Whether these actions are under the pretense of national defense and are really a move to grab power over Somalia I cant say, but if that is the case, I would urge the Kenyans to look back to the United State’s Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and see the outcome of that disastrous operation. None the less, the Hobbesian State of Nature that exists in Somalia because of the US operations in the Somali region needs to be ended, if not by the Somalis themselves, then by some outside power. In thinking like Mill, it is in the greatest common good of the Central Eastern region of Africa to end the chaos that exists within Somalia’s boarders by military action. That military action would provide that “sword”, that sense of fear that makes covenants into actual bonds, not “simply words”, as Hobbes would say.

%d bloggers like this: