December 12, 2001
International Action Center

Black Hawk Down: Somalia in 1992-93

On December 12, 1992, the U.S. sent 28,000 soldiers into Somalia under the cover of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in what they said was a "humanitarian mission" to bring food to starving people. The invasion came when a several-year drought that had taken tens of thousands of lives was actually abating. At the time, the evening news showed images of thousands of starving Somalis. What people didn't see was U.S. troops 'not delivering food' but instead engaged in daily gun battles and bombing raids in heavily populated neighborhoods. In ten months, more than 10,000 Somalis died as the U.S. engaged in aggressive military action against those who resisted.

Resistance among Somali women, men and even children to the foreign troops became widespread. The Somali people have a long and proud history of resistance. They fought for the freedom of their country from Italian, French and British colonialism - and they resisted the U.S. attempts to recolonize their country.

In the beginning of the military intervention in 1992, Colin Powell, at the time the chairman of the Pentagon's Join Chiefs of Staff, called the invasion a "paid political advertisement" for the Pentagon at a time (less than a year after the end of the so-called Cold War) when Congress was under growing pressure to cut the war budget. Powell opposed calls that that money be used instead for jobs, education, health care, housing and other social needs, and instead sought to maintain the $300-billion-plus military budget.

In reporting on the U.S./UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM), the human rights organization Africa Rights stated that troops "have engaged in abuses of human rights, including killing of civilians, physical abuse, theft. Many UNOSOM soldiers have also displayed unacceptable levels of racism toward Somalis." These abuses included opening fire with machine guns against unarmed protesters, firing missiles into residential areas and outright murder civilians, including many youth. The report states "UNOSOM has become an army of occupation."

Pro-war propaganda

Since September 11, Bush administration officials have held meetings with Hollywood representatives regarding the content of the movies and other material they produce. In an October 17, 2001, meeting, Hollywood heads "committed themselves to new initiatives in support of the war on terrorism."

"Black Hawk Down" is just one of those movies, made hand-in-hand with the Pentagon. Weeks before the release of "Black Hawk Down," the Motion Picture Association of America held a private screening for senior White House advisers, and allowed them to make changes. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Oliver North, among others, attended the movie's Washington DC premiere.

Hollywood spends hundreds of millions of dollars on pro-war, racist films like these - $90 million on "Black Hawk Down" alone 'while millions of people in New York and around the country are facing layoffs, evictions, cuts in health care, attacks on their pensions and more.

A new war in Somalia

"Somalia Possible Target" is now a common sentiment echoed in newspaper headlines and statements of Bush administration officials. In some ways, a new war against Somalia has already begun. In November, the U.S. government shut down the Somali-owned Al-Barakat money transfer company, which provided the only way for Somalis living out of the country to send back much-needed funds, known as remittances, which are often vital for family members' survival. Up to eighty percent of Somalis 'which is hundreds of thousands if not millions of people' rely on funds sent by relatives livng outside of the country. This exposes the pretext given by the U.S. government for the 1992 intervention 'said then to be a mission to help starving people 'because now the U.S. is imposing measures that will cause Somali people to starve because they are unable to afford food.

The U.S. also shut down Somalia Internet Company, denying all Internet access to Somalis, and has severely restricted international telephone lines. This is really the beginning of a strangulation of the country.

Since the U.S. government cannot implicate Somalia in the events of September 11, they are attempting to justify a new military assault by implying that the Pentagon has unfinished business, that they have a "black eye" and must return with a vengeance. This is the goal of "Black Hawk Down."

All those who believe in justice for the people of the world must take a stand against U.S. threats against Somalia, Sudan, the Philippines, Iraq, Colombia and everywhere else. We don't know where the next war will be. The Pentagon has announced that it's wartime all the time and they will select the targets. But we do know the U.S. public is being prepared to justify another bloody incursion into Somalia.


[The African Union has agreed in principle to provide troops to allow the newly elected Somali government to be installed in the capital, Mogadishu.--"African peacekeepers for Somalia," BBC, January 1, 2005]

[The State Department said in March that the U.S. government was concerned about "al-Qaida fugitives responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (in Tanzania) and the November 2002 bombing of a tourist hotel and attack on a civilian airliner in Kenya, who are believed to be operating in and around Somalia."--Mattias Karen, "Somali President Says U.S. Backs Warlords,", May 3, 2006]

"Backed by the U.S., Ethiopia Invades Somalia," The Wisdom Fund, May 12, 2006

"Somalia: Lawless War a Grab for Oil," The Wisdom Fund, April 27, 2007

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