Sunday, August 13, 2006

Palos Verdes Adopts an Orphanage

The article by Evan Ortega in the Palos Verdes Peninsula News yesterday (8/12/05) told the story about our hometown support of “Brian of Djibouti” and his adopted orphanage. It was gratifying to tell Evan about the dozens of PV folks who had taken Brian Weiss and his fellow Marines to their hearts and who contributed so enthusiastically and generously to the Djiboutian orphans. Evan was able to exchange emails with Brian who said he had received more than 100 boxes of goods for both the soldiers and the kids.

Brian also described the mission of the 1800 soldiers supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Djibouti. “American troops are in Djibouti to ensure that terrorists cannot gain a foothold in Africa -- by creating a partnership with the people for lasting strength and security.” Well said, Brian.

Do you mean that there are no oil interests in Djibouti? (None) And after your work shifts in 117 degree heat, why do you and your teammates spend your time at the orphanage? “As for why we are helping out the kids, it’s because they need the love and support they should be getting from their parents.” But aren’t the Marines known to be a bunch of tough guys? “The Marine Corps is the world’s foremost fighting force, and yet we can put that to the side to help provide a better life for these kids.”

God bless our military -- they are the very best!

In neighboring Somalia things are not so good. Somalia with Ethiopia and Djibouti in East Africa are referred to as the Horn of Africa. According to Mike Clough, Africa advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, “Somalia is on the brink of becoming the fourth front in the U.S. war on terror.”

Clough recounts the history of the U.S. “missteps in the region” beginning in 1977 when Jimmy Carter “encouraged Somalia to take advantage of political instability in the Ethiopian capital and grab control of Ethiopia's Ogaden region.” Somalia attacked, but Ethiopia quickly defeated them with a massive influx of Soviet military hardware and Cuban and East German military forces. Ethiopia became Moscow's staunchest ally in Africa. In response, Carter “armed Mohamed Siad Barre's thugocracy in Somalia.” This was only the first of many foreign policy exploits of the Carter administration. (Recall Carter’s support of the Sandinista Marxists, his transfer of control of the Panama Canal to a brutal military dictator, and, of course, the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran - and 52 American hostages - by Iranian militants.)

The US ignored Somaila for two decades while it descended into tribal warfare. Fast forward to 1993 when Bill Clinton decides to intervene, sending in the US military to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid. A troop of Delta Force commandos backed up by Army Rangers was dropped by helicopter into the capital city of Mogadishu. Two senior lieutenants of the warlord were taken into American custody. However, when Somali militia armed with RPGs downed two Black Hawk helicopters, the mission became a pitched battle between the American forces and Somali militia (that was dramatized in the film Black Hawk Down). In the firefight, 18 Americans died.

Meanwhile, Clinton had embraced the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as the “region's cop.” Clinton's support encouraged the Ethiopian to believe that he could dictate Somalia's political future. “Thus were sown the seeds of the current conflict unfolding in the Horn of Africa.”

2006: Islamic militants recently took over Mogadishu. The US-backed regime in Ethiopia is eager to lead the battle against the Islamists, who may have ties to Al Qaeda. A war could quickly spread throughout the Horn of Africa.

That is why Brian and his mates are on guard in Djibouti.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:41 PM  

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