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Avoiding Atrocity: Times Leaves off Dragging of Troops in Somalia

Whyever would the U.S. have "turned its back on Somalia" in 1993? Jeffrey Gettleman leaves off one reason: The dragging of U.S. soldiers through the streets.

Jeffrey Gettleman tried to swing attention from the suffering in Darfur to a more familiar African hell-hole in Tuesday's front-page story, "As Somali Crisis Swells, Experts See A Void In Aid."


"Somalia's ills have always come in waves, starting in 1991 when clan-based militias overthrew the central government and the country plunged into anarchy. That fighting, like the fighting today, disrupted markets, kept out aid shipments and led to rapid inflation of food prices. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people starved.


"The United States tried to come to the rescue in 1992, sending thousands of soldiers to Somalia to assist with humanitarian operations.


"But American troops abruptly pulled out after Somali militiamen shot down two Black Hawk helicopters in Mogadishu in October 1993.


"After that, the United States - and much of the rest of the world - basically turned its back on Somalia. But in the summer of 2006, the world started paying attention again after a grass-roots Islamist movement emerged from the clan chaos and seized control of much of the country."


Gettleman (whofavors intervention inSomalia butclaimed last December that Africa hated the U.S. because of our intervention in Iraq) left off a significant detail, one burned into the minds of many Americans.


That would be the image of Somalis dragging the bodies of U.S. troops in triumph through a dusty Mogadishu neighborhood afterthose Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. In all, 18 U.S. troops were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu.


That may explain why the U.S. "turned its back on Somalia."