Somalia: the madness of the hit-and-run driver

By Sam Marcy (Aug. 9, 1993)

Judges in criminal court cases often find themselves the target of attacks by public officials for imposing excessive sentences on hit-and-run drivers. But in hit-and-run cases recklessness and utter disregard for human life frequently result in a public clamor for severe sentences. This is especially so in cases where there are fatalities, particularly of children.

Defense lawyers often find themselves at wits' end on how to defend their clients. They usually resort to demonstrating that there was no original intent to commit a crime. It was thoughtlessness, often the result of intoxication.

Unlike other criminal cases, it is said that there is widespread public approval of severe sentences for those drivers who commit this crime. All this is easily understandable by the broad public. It scarcely needs any debate.

But once we move to the international arena we get a dramatically different situation.

Nazi hit-and-run in Guernica

One historic case of hit-and-run is the Nazi air strike with dozens of Stuka bombers on the little Spanish town of Guernica in 1936.

The merciless bombing leveled the city. It took a heavy toll in human life and property.

The destruction of Guernica aroused such widespread popular condemnation of the Nazis in Western Europe and the U.S. that some believed Nazi preparations for the impending war might all be halted and a peaceful solution between the Nazis and the Western Alliance possible.

The popular clamor ushered in the beginnings of independent action by many groups of anti-fascist youths in Europe and the U.S. to form their own military volunteer battalions.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the United States and the Durruti Column in Europe enlisted in the anti-fascist army in Spain.

U.S. attacks Somalia

How different it is now.

How does what the U.S. has been doing in Somalia differ from what the Nazis did in Guernica? Only in that it is magnified a hundred times over again and again.

A July 22 New York Times article made this crystal clear. The Times wrote, "The U.S.> military attacks its targets [Somalia] from the safety of helicopters and planes and the Marines retire to their ships overnight."

The military has ordered the repeated attacks even though it knew in advance that the Somalis, a poor, oppressed people, had no anti-aircraft weapons. The Somalis have neither missiles nor planes, nor any kind of weaponry which could remotely challenge the U.S. military or defend the country against such overwhelming military force.

This is the hit-and-run driver — multiplied by hundreds of thousands. And it has gone on and on with utter impunity.

Where is the public condemnation for the bombing of Somalia? Where is the widespread outrage that characterized the response to the Guernica raids? Where are the dozens and dozens of organizations both in and out of government that usually demand an investigation?

There is only the silence of the tombstones.

The fact that the war is directed against an oppressed country makes it all the more necessary to arouse worldwide condemnation of the imperialist attack.

The devastation and the destruction of human life is incalculable. The air strikes are carried out at the orders of the leaders of the Pentagon and the Clinton administration, without any human feeling at all.

Somalia has become a wasteland. It is a burning inferno. Again, why? Why has there been no public clamor? And why is the Us> carrying out this horrible assault?

20th-century redivision of Africa

There is only one basic motivation for the assaults.

Clearly, the European imperialist powers, headed by the U.S.>, have decided, after long deliberation, secret discussions and various plans and strategies, to make a second 20th-century redivision of Somalia.

It varies only in scope — but not in substance — from events of 100 years ago. The objective this time is to carry out a redivision in accordance with the new alignment of powers.

The inclusion of the U.S. is the overriding diplomatic and political factor — which it wasn't 100 years ago. At that time, the center of gravity was clearly in Europe. Today, the economic center of gravity is in the U.S.


The agreements of 100 years ago among the French, British and Italians are so blatantly and unabashedly regarded as imperialist that to this day the New Columbia Encyclopedia, fourth edition, characterizes the agreements as "imperialist."

But one might still wonder: why this ferocious attack, especially in view of the overwhelming military and economic might of the U.S. and the apparent agreeable relationships among the imperialist powers? Why, when some leaders in Somalia appear willing to be accommodating in the hope of avoiding military aggression?

What is the motivation for the attack — particularly if the objective could be attained by other means?

We may never know the subjective basis for opening the military assault. But there is — and has been ever since the development of imperialism and its aggressive tendencies world wide — an impetus to extend geopolitical power in unmistakable military fashion. As for Somalia in particular, the Encyclopedia Britannica, 16th edition, states, "Somalia's geopolitical position is one of strategic significance, potentially affecting the development of the African hinterland, the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Peninsula, and the Indian Ocean."

This ought to be an answer to all those who have speculated that the aggression against Somalia is mindless, the result of an incredible mistake, and has no basis in the material interests of the U.S.

We should not seek motivation for imperialist plunder in the pursuit of abstract ideals, but on the solid ground of material interests.

Having control of the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Peninsula, and a portion of the Indian Ocean makes for vast opportunity for plunder and booty.

Collapse of the USSR

Of course, it is altogether questionable whether the Pentagon, for all its bragging, for all its modern nuclear weapons, would have undertaken this mad adventure and got away with it this far had it not been for the collapse of the USSR.

But even at that, the victory against Somalia will ultimately prove to be of a purely pyrrhic character.

There is one most unanticipated development, considering all the benefits that imperialism anticipated from the collapse of the USSR. The world has been plunged into an economic crisis that goes beyond the ordinary cycle of capitalist development.

Its scope and dimension have encircled the entire capitalist decline and stagnation. These in turn inevitably bring, as they have since the first economic crisis of 1847, a sharpening of the antagonism between the working class and the capitalist class.

Last updated: 15 January 2018