November 29, 2007, 2:30 - 4:00 PM - Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Hudson Institute recently held an event titled: "Somalia: Did Leaders or the System Fail?"
The 12th in a series of case study presentations in support of the Project on National Security Reform
Christopher Lamb, Associate Director (Research & Analysis), PNSR
Thursday, November 29, 2007; 2:30-4pm
6th floor auditorium of the Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20005.
For more information please contact Richard Weitz at email@example.com.
Fifteen years ago the United States suffered a major foreign policy reversal that has never been fully explained. In late 1992 the United States intervened in Somalia to prevent mass starvation. U.S. diplomats and forces successfully pressured fractious warlords to step aside while food aid was delivered, but when the mission was passed to a United Nations command, several months of low-level conflict followed. U.S. special operations forces sent to deal with the most troublesome warlord, Mohammed Farah Aideed, ended up being pinned down in a protracted engagement that led to many casualties, an event later captured for the public in the book and eponymous movie, Blackhawk Down. After a public uproar the United States withdrew its forces and left Somalia to its fate. The failed intervention terminated the nascent Clinton Administration's foreign policy of assertive multilateralism and the career of then Secretary of Defense Les Aspin, disinclined the United States from other humanitarian interventions, including the internecine tribal conflict that led to mass murder in Rwanda, and undermined the credibility the United States had built up in the first Gulf War the previous year. The United States strategy in Somalia required the integration of multiple elements of power since no one element could manage the crisis alone, but the elements of national power were not well integrated, either in crafting or implementing policy. Interagency bodies repeatedly papered over a fundamental mismatch between objectives and resources, stumbling into a high risk, military-centric strategy, and blowing through one warning after another that UN and U.S. forces could not accomplish their assigned objectives. The decision making system was not able to respond nimbly to evolving circumstances or to coordinate its own policy decisions well. The national security apparatus could only digest and act slowly and incompletely, and as it turned out, too late to avoid being overtaken by events that should have been assessed as increasingly likely and prepared for accordingly much earlier. This case study identifies the key causes of the failure in Somalia and their consequences.
The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) is a non-partisan initiative sponsored by the non-profit Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP). PNSR seeks to improve the U.S. Government's ability to integrate all elements of national power and more effectively respond to the strategic challenges of the 21st century. Modeled on the historic effort that led to the Goldwater-Nichols legislation, PNSR has established nine working groups that have begun a rigorous study of the national security system. Historical case studies constitute the first element of the study methodology. These case studies will inform the analytic work of PNSR's other working groups by highlighting recurring trends in the way the U.S. national security system responds to complex national security problems. Ultimately, PNSR will produce recommendations on changes to the National Security Act of 1947, presidential directives to implement other reforms, and new Congressional committee structures and practices.
Project on National Security Reform
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