13/11/08 UPDATE: Ten members of the European Union have joined together to send naval forces to the region to counter the rapid growth of piracy in the region.
A recent article in the New York Times describes the dire situation in Somalia. In brief, the entire nation is about to be taken over by Islamic extremists. In the words of Somalia's ambassador, Abdi Awaleh Jama, “These Islamists are terrorists. The American Congress and administration have to wake up. We have a common interest in defeating them.”
Besides the imminent fall of Mogadishu to Islamic radicals, there are several other important issues raised by Ambassador Jama's words. First, he implies that the United States, as a result of the U.S. military support of Ethiopian troops, represents the main source of relief in his country's war against Islamic extremists. While this may well be true, it should not be the case.
The effort to stop terror attacks such as car bombs, suicide bombers, piracy, and even the use of hijacked aircraft to destroy buildings, is not the sole responsibility of the United States. The people of all nations are threatened by the continuation of these violent acts intended to disrupt the normal lives of humans. The list of nations already attacked by individuals and groups allied to various Islamic extremist organizations is a long one. It includes Yemen, the U.K., Spain, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, India, the U.S., Tanzania, Kenya, and many others. Few experts will dispute the fact that other nations will experience such violent attacks in the near future.
A primary task of the new Obama Administration must be to redefine the fight against violent extremists in such a way that all nations clearly understand the threat these continued bombings and other attacks pose. The United States may be the wealthiest nation on Earth but it cannot be expected to always act as the world's policeman. The governments and citizens of all nations are impacted when the people of any one nation are subject to asymmetric attacks. Radical extremists do posses the ability to impact the global economy despite the relatively low numbers of deaths their violence causes in any one nation*.
Human society is already nearly paralyzed in large regions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan. International travel and trade is severely disrupted. Besides the human and financial costs of the attacks themselves, more and more tax dollars must be directed to security efforts, military build-up, and anti-terrorist training efforts. In addition, the psychological toll this violence places on human society cannot be underestimated.
The Obama Administration, the European Union, the United Nations, Asean, the G20, and the African Union, along with the leaders of all nations, must unite to thoroughly understand the root causes of terror attacks as well as implement co-ordinated counter-measures. Until they face the combined effort of the people of the entire world, the extremists will not stop at the borders of Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. In any event, their acts have already disrupted global trade, humanitarian aid efforts, and therefore human life in all regions of the planet. It is now time for all nations to stand up and respond to this violent activity so that we can build a peaceful society in which to live, raise our children, and prosper.
*For example, 41,000 people were killed in U.S. automobile accidents in 2007 alone.