Failed State Update

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While you were sleeping, an Islamic militia reportedly took over the capital of Somalia.

MOGADISHU, June 5 (Reuters)—Islamic militia announced on Monday they had won control of Mogadishu from Somali warlords after the worst fighting in the lawless capital in more than a decade, residents said.

Members of the warlord alliance said their leaders were fleeing the capital. Around 350 people have been killed since February in several bouts of fighting between militia supporting Islamic courts and gunmen allied to a self-styled anti-terrorism coalition, widely believed to be covertly backed by the United States.

Iran hawks like to style the Persian Islamic Republic as a "terrorist state" that might as well be in cahoots with Osama bin Laden. But Somalia might become the first nation since the collapse of Afghanistan's Taliban to offer a perch to al Qaeda.

Brian Doherty wrote about Somalia and the real meaning of anarchy back in 2005.

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  1. The Hearld Sun has some interesting coverage on this: http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,19348317%255E1702,00.html

    It appears that the Islamic militias didn’t so much “capture” Mogadishu as they were welcomed in after the locals rose up against the warlords.

  2. Umm, can we chip in together to buy Brian Doherty an atlas? Somalia is in EAST africa.

  3. This is just how the Taliban came to power; by combining military force with the promise of decently, godly governance and an end to warlordism.

  4. Now let’s see what damage the islamic militias can cause…

    The problem with anarchy is that as long as there are predatory armed bands out there, it is very unstable. Progress made in the peaceful intervals can be wiped out when the next warlord takes over – and it can be worse than the current warlord, because the new warlord is hungrier, and has more need to reward its loyal troops, which means turn them loose upon the population to loot and rape as much as they like…

  5. Good thing we got out of Somalia when we did, or things might have gone seriously wrong. Its an American presence that screws things up in that part of the world, right?

  6. Does this mean that the “pure-Libertarian utopia” (my phrase) described here as Stateless in Somalia is now kaput?

    Maybe minarchism isn’t a slippery slope to statism after all. Or if it is, then I’d still take it over the bloody slope to terrorist haven that may now result. How much liberty will the Somalis havenow?

  7. Interesting article Juggler.

    It seems to me to be a good argument in favor of Laisez Fair economy. When rival criminal gangs provide a better economy than any other in the continent.

  8. rival criminal gangs provide a better economy than any other in the continent.

    He’s not talking about the Dems and the Reps, is he?

  9. Just wondering, how does a country with no govt have a capital?

  10. 350 dead since Feb. really isn’t that bad compared to conflict in actual nation states in Africa — you have about that many dead per couple of days in the Congo for the last 10 years — 350 dead is the annual murder rate of some US cities.

    Much more death will probably occur not due to the Islamists but the fact the US will probably rearm the other thugs to the hilt where without such support they might just disappear…

    not saying the place is paradise…

  11. I think the US should just leave them alone. The situation in Afghanistan was only so bad because so many countries were funding the varios factions.

    If they just leave the Islamists alone, sooner or later the Somalis will say “hey this fundamentalist thing is really cool on paper, but it really isn’t working out so well”

    Which I think is where the Iranians would already be except that the failed islamic leaders can always drum up patriotism by antagonizing us or the Saudis, or the Pakistanis, or whomever else.

    Withou

  12. Just wondering, how does a country with no govt have a capital?

    Some people call him Prince others call him the former capital known as Mogadishu.

  13. Well, that didn’t take long.

    R C Dean at 10:32:

    Its an American presence that screws things up in that part of the world, right?

    spur at 12:31:

    Much more death will probably occur not due to the Islamists but the fact the US will probably rearm the other thugs to the hilt where without such support they might just disappear…

    and kwais at 12:39:

    The situation in Afghanistan was only so bad because so many countries were funding the varios factions.

    kwias, do I understand you to say that if no one had funded the opposition in Afghanistan, the Taliban would have not have been murderous barbarians?

  14. RC Dean,

    Of course they wouldn’t — indeed, the Taliban would never have existed. The Soviets would be in charge in Afghanistan (and probably Pakistan too).

  15. The Soviets would be in charge in Afghanistan (and probably Pakistan too).

    Bug, or feature?

  16. happyjuggler: Indeed, anarchy can exist only until the next warlord shows up… Then it is just the pleasant experience of seeing all that you earned go up in smoke or inot the pockets of the bandits, your family slaughtered…

    There was a french song which went, as I recall

    If you have a beautiful house, a bomb will blow it up.
    If you have a good harvest, the fighters will set it on fire.
    If you have beautiful daguhers, they will be raped.
    If you have delightful grandchildren, they will be slaughtered…

    Why do you think that the State was created in the frst place?

  17. Adriana,

    Wait, are you saying that free people might decide to band together based on common needs, and to codify that relationship? Are you saying that states are a product of some sort of cultural evolution and that they meet vital functions for the community that were not previously being met? Are you saying that the state is a product of the collective will of individuals interacting in a free market? A way for those who don’t want to use violence to balance the power of those that do?

    Gasp!
    ;~)

  18. “The Soviets would be in charge in Afghanistan (and probably Pakistan too).”

    So why would this be their only stronghold after the dissolution of the USSR?

    Just saying.

  19. “If they just leave the Islamists alone, sooner or later the Somalis will say “hey this fundamentalist thing is really cool on paper, but it really isn’t working out so well”

    Yeah, just like in Saudi Arabia, Iran… oppressors never figure out how to handle a dissatisfied public.

  20. Mainstream,

    One of the disadvantages the USSR had was the lack of a warm-water ocean port. You hand over Karachi to them in the early eighties, and things might not play out the same as they did.

  21. Adriana & MainstreamMan

    Good to know you worship the STATE.

    But you have to be extremely ignorant of mankind’s history to say things like “are you saying that free people might decide to band together based on common needs, and to codify that relationship”.

    If you’d bother to read actual history, you’d know that states were created to ensure a steady stream of revenue to the thugs in power. The relative freedom we enjoy nowadays is the exception, not the rule.

  22. Daniel:

    Why would you assume that I haven’t read actual history?
    It is possible to be both as informed as you and of a differing opinion about the meaning of that information.

    It almost seems like you are using a Marxist analysis of history, and coming to the opposite conclusions he does.

    The rise from local governance to nation states is far more complex than you give it credit for in you little statement of faith. I would think if you’d read actually history you might have an appreciation for the complexity of the issue.

  23. Crimethink:

    Yeah. We can argue alternate histories all day. The Soviets were as bogged down in Afghanistan as we may end up in Iraq… it wasn’t really turning out to be the cakewalk to warm water they had hoped for. It is not clear how much of that was the result of our meddling in the region, and how much was a result of the nature of the place. There is a reason the place hasn’t been controlled from the outside for any length of time despite many historical attempts.

  24. RC, you knew that the Pakistanis and Saudis were funding the Taliban, right?

    Right?

  25. Isn’t the CIA providing weapons to some of the clans over there already? I believe I read an article about that yesterday but am too lazy to locate it at the moment.

    “A way for those who don’t want to use violence to balance the power of those that do?”
    -MainstreamMan

    One can define a state as possessing a “legal” monopoly on the threat and use of violence. The threat of violent reprisal lurks behind every law and regulation that governments make.

  26. Mainstream man:

    I say that, whatever the origins of the state, the fact that it an almost universal institution (I say “almost” because I do not want to be bombarded with data about Iceland or other exceptions) is because it fills a social need. I would say that there was a process of evolution at work. Societies which evolved Statess could gave better protection to the communitiess against marauders thatn those who didn’t, which gave Stateful societies an advantage over stateless ones…

    (On other occasion I will muse on how many rules and regulations had their originis in the nineteenth century, and they were based on the new knowledge on how diseasea could travel from one host to the other, thus giving them an insight on how to prevent epidemics… and since societies which prevent epidemics have an advantage over those who don’t, then we inherited a lot of those rules and regulations…)

  27. matt:

    Of course it is based on violence and the threat of reprisal. As is any system of justice that is worth its salt. What point is there in having laws if they cannot be enforced? How can you have any private property unless there is a way to punish those who steal it?

    You may mediate as much as you want, and have a wise judge adjudicate who is right and who is wrong, but the wisdom of the judge is not enough to make the loser obey, but the certainty of reprisals if he does not…

  28. Adriana:

    My point is that the threat of violence is present against all citizens be they criminals or innoncents. Depending on how long you choose to resist government aggression you’ll either wind up in prison or dead. It’s that simple.

    Crude Example:

    Tell the government that you will no longer “pay” taxes on your income. Refuse long enough and someone will likely show up at your door to arrest you. Continue your resistance and you will shortly have a host of cops pointing guns at you.

    When it comes to the state, it’s ultimately your money (and/or obedience) or your life that’s demanded. That is what I meant by the threat of state violence, and not the just punishment of rapists, robbers, and murderers by the state.

  29. Adriana,

    I concur. Your points are apparent from history. If you look on large scales at the evolution of the cultural phenomena of “The State” you will see that it has a clear developmental path that attempts to balance the benefits it provides against the dangers of concentrated power. It has also had to develop new mechanisms at each agglomeration of larger groups of groups of people. In this, the state is no different than any other complex adaptive system.

    The libertarian impulse towards minimal government is an important part of the equation that will help this ongoing development to balance against the tendency of bureaucracies to expand their mission in self-preservation.

    As for Somalia. It is quite clear that there is a fair amount of local governance going on in Somalia…the tension between the groups attempting to expand their scope of influence is the source of the violence. This situation makes more organized states nervous. It also makes the place a magnet for groups inspired by Al Queda and the Taliban who want to establish a power base from which to expand their view of governance…

    Matt: cool thing. Even if you don’t resist the government you will end up dead, eventually. The advantage of dealing with state power vs. your local warlord, is that the state has the rules and procedures written down and ideally includes due process provisions to allow to you negotiate the conflict of power and avoid violence. You might want to look up the stats on how many of the people refusing to pay income taxes in the US are in jail. Hint, it is a very, very, small number– the US doesn’t tend to prosecute Tax Protestors.

  30. matt:

    The threat of violence is the same whether the action is worthwhile or criminal in your opinion. The authority tells you what you can, or cannot do. And if you do not obey, you are punished. How esle it would be an authority?

    You can argue what actions should be punished and which not, but not with the principle that there has to be an enforcement of the rules through punishemnt.

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