George K. Bowden

George K. Bowden


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George K. Bowden was born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. As a young man he became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). During the First World War he was an officer in the Military Intelligence Division. After the war he studied at the University of Minnesota. He also obtained a law degree from the University of Chicago.

Bowden eventually became a tax lawyer and after Pearl Harbor he was "invited" to join the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) by General William Donovan as "Special Assistant to the Director". He took up his appointment in February, 1942. Other senior figures he worked with included David Bruce (head of intelligence), Allen Dulles (head of the New York office) and William Lane Rehm (head of finance). Bowden was appointed head of Special Activities. Soon afterwards he brought in his friend, Arthur Goldberg, chief counsel of the Congress for Industrial Organisation, into the OSS.

According to OSS agent, Donald Chase Downes, the author of The Scarlett Thread (1953): "He had G2 experience in the first war and, despite it, had developed real imagination in intelligence work. Big Bill Donovan had a great confidence in George Bowden, and he carried, in the early, unmilitarized days of OSS, more weight than anyone with the big boss."

Bowden became head of the Labor Desk. They recruited refugee German trade union leaders who had fled from Nazi Germany. Others who joined included Leon Jouhaux from France and Omar Becu from Belgium. Bowden also persuaded Dr. Paul Schwarz (1882-1951), the former German Consul-General in New York City, to supply the OSS with information. Downes argued that Schwarz "began to spill the German beans - scandals, indiscretions, skeletons... In his forty years in the German foreign service, he had kept elaborate notes... This information he kept in huge filing cases, where there was all the gossip and facts about everyone of importance in German diplomatic and military circles for nearly half a century."

Robin Winks, the author of Cloak and Gown: Scholars in America's Secret War (1987): "Bowden, one of Donovan's most brilliant assistants, had shifted effortlessly from peacetime tax law to the work of a highly confidential staff officer in Washington and then in London.... Bowden had left the OSS in 1944, ill and angry over its growing right-wing tendencies."

About this time (February 1942) George K. Bowden of Chicago was attached to the New York office. George was a young (forties) successful corporation lawyer who had been a "wobbly" organizer and a professional football player in his youth. He had G2 experience in the first war and, despite it, had developed real imagination in intelligence work. Big Bill Donovan had a great confidence in George Bowden, and he carried, in the early, unmilitarized days of OSS, more weight than anyone with the big boss.


Why Schools Fail To Teach Slavery's 'Hard History'

By the time George Washington died, more than 300 enslaved people lived and toiled on his Mount Vernon farm. Painting by Junius Brutus Stearns, 19th Century.

Getty Images/SuperStock RM

"In the ways that we teach and learn about the history of American slavery," write the authors of a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), "the nation needs an intervention."

This new report, titled Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, is meant to be that intervention: a resource for teachers who are eager to help their students better understand slavery — not as some "peculiar institution" but as the blood-soaked bedrock on which the United States was built.

The report, which is the work of the SPLC's Teaching Tolerance project, is also an appeal to states, school district leaders and textbook-makers to stop avoiding slavery's hard truths and lasting impact.

The Teaching Tolerance project began in 1991, according to its website, "to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for our nation's children."

The report includes the "dismal" results of a new, multiple-choice survey of 1,000 high school seniors — results that suggest many young people know little about slavery's origins and the government's role in perpetuating it. Just a third of students correctly identified the law that officially ended slavery, the 13th Amendment, and fewer than half knew of the Middle Passage. Most alarming, though, were the results to this question:

Which was the reason the South seceded from the Union?

a. To preserve states' rights

b. To preserve slavery

c. To protest taxes on imported goods

d. To avoid rapid industrialization

e. Not sure

How Much Do You Know About American Slavery?

Nearly half blamed taxes on imported goods. Perhaps, the report's authors guessed, students were confusing the Civil War with the Revolutionary War.

How many students chose slavery as the reason the South seceded?

"Slavery is hard history," writes Hasan Kwame Jeffries in the report's preface. He is an associate professor of history at The Ohio State University and chair of the Teaching Hard History Advisory Board. "It is hard to comprehend the inhumanity that defined it. It is hard to discuss the violence that sustained it. It is hard to teach the ideology of white supremacy that justified it. And it is hard to learn about those who abided it."

The problem, according to the report, is not that slavery is ignored in the classroom or that teachers, like their students, don't understand its importance. Many clearly do. The problem is deeper than that.

The Teaching Tolerance project surveyed nearly 1,800 K-12 social studies teachers. While nearly 90 percent agreed that "teaching and learning about slavery is essential to understanding American history," many reported feeling uncomfortable teaching slavery and said they get very little help from their textbooks or state standards. The report includes several powerful quotes from teachers explaining their discomfort, including this from a teacher in California:

"Although I teach it through the lens of injustice, just the fact that it was a widely accepted practice in our nation seems to give the concept of inferiority more weight in some students' eyes, like if it happened, then it must be true. Sometimes it gives students the idea to call black students slaves or tell them to go work in the field because of the lack of representation in textbooks. So when students see themselves or their black classmates only represented as slaves in textbooks, that affects their sense of self and how other students view them."

And this from a teacher in Maine:

"I find it painful, and embarrassing (as a white male) to teach about the history of exploitation, abuse, discrimination and outrageous crimes committed against African Americans and other minorities, over many centuries—especially at the hands of white males. I also find it very difficult to convey the concept of white privilege to my white students. While some are able to begin to understand this important concept, many struggle with or actively resist it."

Jackie Katz, a history teacher at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Mass., says student discomfort is a big challenge when talking honestly about slavery.

"When you bring up racism, kids start getting really defensive, thinking that they're to blame," says Katz. "To feel comfortable, you need to have a really good classroom climate, where students feel that they're not being blamed for what happened in the American past, where they don't feel shame about it. It is 100 percent not their fault that there is racism in this country. It will be their fault if they don't do anything about it in the next 20 years."

This defensiveness from students does not surprise Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history at American University and author of the National Book Award-winning Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America.

"Saying that the deadliest conflict in American history was fought over an effort to keep people enslaved conflicts with students' sense of the grandness of America, the grandness of American history and, therefore, the grandness of themselves as Americans," says Kendi.

Beyond this discomfort, the report lays out several key "problems" with the way slavery is often presented to students. Among them:

  • Textbooks and teachers tend to accentuate the positive, focusing on heroes like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass without also giving students the full, painful context of slavery.
  • Slavery is often described as a Southern problem. It was much, much more. When the Declaration of Independence was signed, it was a problem across the colonies. Even in the run-up to the Civil War, the North profited mightily from slave labor.
  • Slavery depended on the ideology of white supremacy, and teachers shouldn't try to tackle the former without discussing the latter.
  • Too often, the report says, "the varied, lived experience of enslaved people is neglected." Instead, lessons focus on politics and economics, which means focusing on the actions and experiences of white people.

States and textbook-makers deserve considerable blame for these problems, according to the report. The project reviewed history standards in 15 states and found them generally "timid," often looking for slavery's silver lining hence a common preference for coverage of the abolitionist movement over talk of white supremacy or the everyday experiences of enslaved people.

"State standards we looked at are simply confused," says Maureen Costello, the director of Teaching Tolerance. "We celebrate the heroes who escaped slavery long before we explain to children what slavery was."

Reviewers also studied a dozen popular history textbooks, using a 30-point rubric to measure their engagement with slavery's key concepts. No book scored above 70 percent five scored below 25 percent, including state-level texts from Texas and Alabama that earned just 6 points out of a possible 87.

Teaching Hard History comes out of earlier work the Teaching Tolerance project had done, unpacking how schools teach the U.S. civil rights movement.

"One of the reasons that schools don't teach the civil rights movement particularly effectively," says Costello, "is because we don't do a very good job of teaching the history that made it necessary, which is our long history of slavery."


School History

George Kelly Elementary School opened in July 2006 as a K-8 campus emphasizing Language Arts and Communications. Our school is named after an outstanding educator George Kelly. Mr. Kelly came to Tracy from Oakland in 1961 to serve as Principal of North and West Park Elementary Schools. In 1964, he became Principal of Central Elementary School. His career in Tracy schools spanned 26 years and many accolades. He retired in 1987. Mr. Kelly passed away on July 15, 2012.

Mr. Kelly contributed to our community in various ways such as chaired the Tracy United Way Campaign, the Tracy Salvation Army Committee, the Tracy P.G.E. Reach Committee, and Flag Day for local schools. He also presided over the Tracy and San Joaquin County Safety Councils, and Tracy Breakfast Lions Club. In addition he received the P.T.A. Honorary Life Service Award and Tracy Chamber Commerce Citizen of the Year Award. Mr. Kelly&rsquos involvement in these activities- and the many more that aren&rsquot listed here- were undertaken with a contagious enthusiasm. With a twinkle in his eye and a gentle, caring manner, Mr. Kelly made significant contributions to our community and its children. He even visited our campus several times throughout the years, leading our Halloween Parade in costume.

At George Kelly Elementary School, we recognize and appreciate the diverse backgrounds of staff and students. We also integrate into the school curriculum and programs by doing many activities such as: School wide emphasis of Tribes and Character Counts, cultural activities, anti-bullying, conflict management, etc. During the morning announcement, &ldquoThis Day in History&rdquo is read in mornings based on cultural themes. Throughout the school year, many different multicultural events and professional development for staff will focus on cultural diversity. In conjunction with the CATCH program, breakfast on the blacktop program is implemented during testing time.

Our K‑8 structure allows us to nurture and support our students in a personal, in-depth way for nine of your student&rsquos educational years. Continuity in curriculum, facilities, staff members, and programs mean a seamless transition from elementary school to middle school at an important point in your student&rsquos academic career. It is a unique opportunity to prepare for the rigors of high school by adjusting to a set of teachers and changing classrooms throughout the day in a familiar, supportive environment.

Students in pursuit of success at George Kelly Elementary School are offered a variety of school, parent, and community-led programs that enhance or supplement their daily curricular studies. Both inside and outside of their school day, students are offered opportunities to participate in various activities intended to enrich your child&rsquos education. George Kelly challenges itself to create partnerships between its children, families, community, and district. Together all stakeholders commit to support and motivate students to become life-long learners and contributing community members.


Presidents related to royalty

Presidents related to British royalty

    (descendant of Edward III of England) (descendant of Edward III of England) (descendant of Edward I of England) (descendant of Edward III of England) (descendant of Edward III of England) and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison (descendants of Edward I of England) (descendant of Edward I of England) (descendant of Henry I of England) (descendant of William I of Scotland) (descendant of Edward I of England) (descendant of James I of Scotland and Edward III of England) (descendant of Edward III of England) (descendant of Henry II of England) (descendant of Edward I of England) (descendant of Edward III of England) (descendant of James II of Scotland) (descendant of Robert III of Scotland) (descendant of Henry II of England) (descendant of Edward I of England) (descendant of Henry II of England) and his son, George W. Bush (descendants of Edward I of England and Robert II of Scotland) (descendant of Edward I of England and William the Lion of Scotland) (descendant of Edward III of England)

As a result, all of the listed people are direct descendants of Alfred the Great. All but one of them are also descended from William the Conqueror with the exception of Rutherford Hayes. Most of these royal ancestors were born before the Black Death killed much of the population of Britain in 1349.

In addition, according to Genealogics and Roglo, HM Queen Elizabeth II is among the closest living relatives of George Washington, through their descent from Augustus Warner, Burgess of Virginia.


Forty-Nine Indicted on Federal Drug Charges

GULFPORT, MS—Forty-nine individuals are facing drug charges in four separate federal indictments unsealed on Wednesday, August 1, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis Jimmy S. Fox III, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Orleans Field Division and Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi.

A number of defendants were arrested on Wednesday, August 1, during a round up conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration Federal Bureau of Investigation Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives ICE Homeland Security Investigations U.S. Marshals Service Mississippi Highway Patrol Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Moss Point Police Department Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Gulfport Police Department and various task forces.

The first indictment charges 23 individuals with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and related drug charges. Charged in the indictment are:

NameAgeCity of Residence
*Ramon Derrell Goldsmith, a/k/a Derrell, a/k/a Gold 42 Moss Point, MS
Keeleon Kevin Tennard, a/k/a KT, a/k/a Keelon Tennard 26 Houston, TX
Larry Fort Bennett, Jr. 27 Baytown, TX
Clifton Joseph Goudeau, Jr. a/k/a CJ 30 Baytown, TX
Deron Xavier Deflanders, a/k/a Twin 39 Pascagoula, MS
Charles Lamont Fountain, a/k/a C 34 Pascagoula, MS
Connie Dean Lovelace a/k/a, Conner Dean 47 Moss Point, MS
Christopher George Davison, a/k/a Flip 45 Moss Point, MS
J.F. Felder, III, a/k/a Johnathan Felder 26 Houston, TX
*Roderick Maurice Armstrong, a/k/a Maurice, a/k/a Dino 35 Moss Point, MS
Marcella Vonetta Mack 19 Houston, TX
Jermayne Denord Rubins 21 Humble, TX
Rafael Tremayne Bass 41 Gautier, MS
Willie Alphonse Hurd 34 Moss Point, MS
Shaun Germelle Washington, a/k/a Fat G,  a/k/a Big G, a/k/a Strap, a/k/a Shawn Washington 39 Moss Point, MS
Bernard Milford Bell, Jr. 39 Moss Point, MS
Shane Allan Young, a/k/a Slim 23 Moss Point, MS
David Scott Blackwell 48 Hendersonville, TN
*Treneal Denard Williams, a/k/a Bo Bo 33 Moss Point, MS
Terrance Terrell Thompson, a/k/a Black Rell 38 Hattiesburg, MS
Marcus Terrell Matthews, a/k/a Schwinn, a/k/a Mark Matthews 37 Moss Point, MS
Rodney O’Neal Davis, a/k/a D-Boy 49 Moss Point, MS
Angel Brooke Scarbrough, a/k/a Brooke 22 Pascagoula, MS

* Defendant charged in two indictments.

A second indictment charges 25 individuals with conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base and related drug charges. Charged in the indictment are:

* Defendant charged in two indictments.

A third indictment charges three defendants with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base and related drug charges. Charged in the indictment are:

NameAgeCity of Residence
Lionel Rayale Maurice,  a/k/a Block, a/k/a Bloc,  a/k/a Bloc Boi 31 Gulfport, MS
Jontue Rhaymon Hosey,  a/k/a Jon Jon, a/k/a Tu, a/k/a/ Big Homes 33 Gulfport, MS
Tiquese Pianky Moody, a/k/a T.Y. 22 Magee, MS

The fourth indictment charges one defendant with possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Charged in the indictment is:

NameAgeCity of Residence
John Edwards Barnes, a/k/a Bubba J 41 Gulfport, MS

These arrests are the culmination of a 15-month investigation into several overlapping drug distribution organizations operating on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, particularly in the Moss Point and Gulfport areas. The defendants face maximum penalties ranging from 10 years to life in prison.

“Unlawful distribution of controlled substances violates federal law and constitutes a danger to our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis. “This operation evidences the commitment of federal law enforcement to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who, through violation of federal criminal laws, pose a threat to the safety of our communities. Through joint law enforcement efforts such as this one, we can make our cities safer for our children and every law abiding citizen. Our thanks go out to the federal, state and local law enforcement officers who contributed to the investigation that led to this prosecution.”

DEA Special Agent in Charge Jimmy S. Fox III stated: “Today, members of gangs like the Black Gangster Disciples have witnessed the fact that DEA, along with our collective federal, state, and local counterparts, offer a stronger, more united and expansive front than their deadly partnerships could ever produce. Drugs and gangs have been the scourge of our society for decades. The citizens of the Mississippi Gulf Coast deserve to live in peace from these rogue groups. Today’s efforts mark a monumental step in that process.”

Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi, added: “The FBI’s number one priority is to address the national security threats to our country. That being said, the FBI’s commitment to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to address threats to our local communities has not diminished. The investigation, disruption, and dismantlement of the violent street gangs which sustain and enrich themselves through drug trafficking is a responsibility we take very seriously, as demonstrated by these arrests today.”

Arraignments are scheduled for August 2, 2012 before United States Magistrate Judge Robert Walker in Gulfport.

This case is the result of a joint investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the cooperation of numerous state and local agencies. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Meynardie.

An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, that charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.


George Bowden Wiki, Biography, Net Worth, Age, Family, Facts and More

You will find all the basic Information about George Bowden. Scroll down to get the complete details. We walk you through all about George. Checkout George Wiki Age, Biography, Career, Height, Weight, Family. Get updated with us about your Favorite Celebs.We update our data from time to time.

BIOGRAPHY

Australian politician who represented Gippsland in the Australian parliament from 1943 to 1961. George Bowden is a well known Politician. George was born on March 17, 1888 in Australia..George is one of the famous and trending celeb who is popular for being a Politician. As of 2019 George Bowden is years old. George Bowden is a member of famous Politician list.

Wikifamouspeople has ranked George Bowden as of the popular celebs list. George Bowden is also listed along with people born on March 17, 1888. One of the precious celeb listed in Politician list. George Bowden is 1 of the celebs with the old.

Nothing much is known about George Education Background & Childhood. We will update you soon.

Details
Name George Bowden
Age
Profession Politician
Birth Date March 17, 1888
Birth Place Australia
Nationality Australia

George Bowden Net Worth

George primary income source is Politician. Currently We don’t have enough information about his family, relationships,childhood etc. We will update soon.

Estimated Net Worth in 2019: $100K-$1M (Approx.)

George Age, Height & Weight

George body measurements, Height and Weight are not Known yet but we will update soon. George Age is around years old.

Family & Relations

Not Much is known about George family and Relationships. All information about his private life is concealed. We will update you soon.

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Top Military Officers Unload on Trump

The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

F or most of the past two decades, American troops have been deployed all over the world—to about 150 countries. During that time, hundreds of thousands of young men and women have experienced combat, and a generation of officers have come of age dealing with the practical realities of war. They possess a deep well of knowledge and experience. For the past three years, these highly trained professionals have been commanded by Donald Trump.

To get a sense of what serving Trump has been like, I interviewed officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees. Among the officers I spoke with were four of the highest ranks—three or four stars—all recently retired. All but one served Trump directly the other left the service shortly before Trump was inaugurated. They come from different branches of the military, but I’ll simply refer to them as “the generals.” Some spoke only off the record, some allowed what they said to be quoted without attribution, and some talked on the record.

Military officers are sworn to serve whomever voters send to the White House. Cognizant of the special authority they hold, high-level officers epitomize respect for the chain of command, and are extremely reticent about criticizing their civilian overseers. That those I spoke with made an exception in Trump’s case is telling, and much of what they told me is deeply disturbing. In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president. Trump’s pronouncements and orders have already risked catastrophic and unnecessary wars in the Middle East and Asia, and have created severe problems for field commanders engaged in combat operations. Frequently caught unawares by Trump’s statements, senior military officers have scrambled, in their aftermath, to steer the country away from tragedy. How many times can they successfully do that before faltering?

Amid threats spanning the globe, from nuclear proliferation to mined tankers in the Persian Gulf to terrorist attacks and cyberwarfare, those in command positions monitor the president’s Twitter feed like field officers scanning the horizon for enemy troop movements. A new front line in national defense has become the White House Situation Room, where the military struggles to accommodate a commander in chief who is both ignorant and capricious. In May, after months of threatening Iran, Trump ordered the carrier group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to shift from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. On June 20, after an American drone was downed there, he ordered a retaliatory attack—and then called it off minutes before it was to be launched. The next day he said he was “not looking for war” and wanted to talk with Iran’s leaders, while also promising them “obliteration like you’ve never seen before” if they crossed him. He threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” and dispatched a three-aircraft-carrier flotilla to waters off the Korean peninsula—then he pivoted to friendly summits with Kim Jong Un, with whom he announced he was “in love” canceled long-standing U.S. military exercises with South Korea and dangled the possibility of withdrawing American forces from the country altogether. While the lovefest continues for the cameras, the U.S. has quietly uncanceled the canceled military exercises, and dropped any mention of a troop withdrawal.

Such rudderless captaincy creates the headlines Trump craves. He revels when his tweets take off. (“Boom!” he says. “Like a rocket!”) Out in the field, where combat is more than wordplay, his tweets have consequences. He is not a president who thinks through consequences—and this, the generals stressed, is not the way serious nations behave.

The generals I spoke with didn’t agree on everything, but they shared the following five characterizations of Trump’s military leadership.

I. HE DISDAINS EXPERTISE

Trump has little interest in the details of policy. He makes up his mind about a thing, and those who disagree with him—even those with manifestly more knowledge and experience—are stupid, or slow, or crazy.

As a personal quality, this can be trying in a president, it is dangerous. Trump rejects the careful process of decision making that has long guided commanders in chief. Disdain for process might be the defining trait of his leadership. Of course, no process can guarantee good decisions—history makes that clear—but eschewing the tools available to a president is choosing ignorance. What Trump’s supporters call “the deep state” is, in the world of national security—hardly a bastion of progressive politics—a vast reservoir of knowledge and global experience that presidents ignore at their peril. The generals spoke nostalgically of the process followed by previous presidents, who solicited advice from field commanders, foreign-service and intelligence officers, and in some cases key allies before reaching decisions about military action. As different as George W. Bush and Barack Obama were in temperament and policy preferences, one general told me, they were remarkably alike in the Situation Room: Both presidents asked hard questions, wanted prevailing views challenged, insisted on a variety of options to consider, and weighed potential outcomes against broader goals. Trump doesn’t do any of that. Despite commanding the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatus in the world, this president prefers to be briefed by Fox News, and then arrives at decisions without input from others.

One prominent example came on December 19, 2018, when Trump announced, via Twitter, that he was ordering all American forces in Syria home.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” he tweeted. Later that day he said, “Our boys, our young women, our men, they are all coming back, and they are coming back now.”

This satisfied one of Trump’s campaign promises, and it appealed to the isolationist convictions of his core supporters. Forget the experts, forget the chain of command—they were the people who, after all, had kept American forces engaged in that part of the world for 15 bloody years without noticeably improving things. Enough was enough.

At that moment, however, American troops were in the final stages of crushing the Islamic State, which, contrary to Trump’s assertion, was collapsing but had not yet been defeated. Its brutal caliphate, which had briefly stretched from eastern Iraq to western Syria, had been painstakingly dismantled over the previous five years by an American-led global coalition, which was close to finishing the job. Now they were to stop and come home?

Here, several of the generals felt, was a textbook example of ill-informed decision making. The downsides of a withdrawal were obvious: It would create a power vacuum that would effectively cede the fractured Syrian state to Russia and Iran it would abandon America’s local allies to an uncertain fate and it would encourage a diminished ISIS to keep fighting. The decision—which prompted the immediate resignations of the secretary of defense, General James Mattis, and the U.S. special envoy to the mission, Brett McGurk—blindsided not only Congress and America’s allies but the person charged with actually waging the war, General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command. He had not been consulted.

Trump’s tweet put Votel in a difficult spot. Here was a sudden 180-degree turn in U.S. policy that severely undercut an ongoing effort. The American contingent of about 2,000 soldiers, most of them Special Forces, was coordinating with the Iraqi army the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, consisting primarily of Kurdish militias and Syrians opposed to President Bashar al-Assad and representatives of NATO, the Arab League, and dozens of countries. This alliance had reduced ISIS’s territory to small pockets of resistance inside Syria. America’s troops were deep in the Euphrates Valley, a long way from their original bases of operation. An estimated 10,000 hard-core Islamist soldiers were fighting to the death. Months of tough combat lay ahead.

Votel’s force in Syria was relatively small, but it required a steady supply of food, ammunition, parts, and medical supplies, and regular troop rotations. The avenue for these vital conveyances—through hundreds of miles of hazardous Iraqi desert—was truck convoys, protected almost exclusively by the SDF. To protect its troops during a retreat, America could have brought in its own troops or replaced those truck convoys with airlifts, but either step would have meant suddenly escalating an engagement that the president had just pronounced finished.

For the American commander, this was a terrible logistical challenge. An orderly withdrawal of his forces would further stress supply lines, therefore necessitating the SDF’s help even more. Votel found himself in the position of having to tell his allies, in effect, We’re screwing you, but we need you now more than ever.

Field commanders are often given orders they don’t like. The military must bow to civilian rule. The generals accept and embrace that. But they also say that no careful decision-making process would have produced Trump’s abrupt about-face.

Votel decided to take an exceedingly rare step: He publicly contradicted his commander in chief. In an interview with CNN he said that no, ISIS was not yet defeated, and now was not the time to retreat. Given his responsibility to his troops and the mission, the general didn’t have much choice.

Votel held everything together. He took advantage of the good relationship he had built with the SDF to buy enough time for Trump to be confronted with the consequences of his decision. A few days later, the president backed down—while predictably refusing to admit that he had done so. American forces would stay in smaller numbers (and France and the U.K. would eventually agree to commit more troops to the effort). The 180-degree turn was converted into something more like a 90-degree one. In the end, the main effects of Trump’s tweet were bruising the trust of allies and heartening both Assad and ISIS.

Illustration: Paul Spella Nicholas Kamm Olivier Douliery / AFP / Getty Erik S. Lesser / AP Kevin LaMarque / Reuters

II. HE TRUSTS ONLY HIS OWN INSTINCTS

Trump believes that his gut feelings about things are excellent, if not genius. Those around him encourage that belief, or they are fired. Winning the White House against all odds may have made it unshakable.

Decisiveness is good, the generals agreed. But making decisions without considering facts is not.

Trump has, on at least one occasion, shown the swiftness and resolution commanders respect: On April 7, 2017, he responded to a chemical-warfare attack by Assad with a missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase. But this was not a hard call. It was a onetime proportional retaliation unlikely to stir international controversy or wider repercussions. Few international incidents can be cleanly resolved by an air strike.

A case in point is the flare-up with Iran in June. The generals said Trump’s handling of it was perilous, because it could have led to a shooting war. On June 20, Iran’s air defenses shot down an American RQ-4A Global Hawk, a high-altitude surveillance drone the Iranians said had violated their airspace. The U.S. said the drone was in international airspace. (The disputed coordinates were about 12 miles apart—not a big difference for an aircraft moving hundreds of miles an hour.) In retaliation, Trump ordered a military strike on Iran—and then abruptly called it off after, he claimed, he’d been informed that it would kill about 150 Iranians. One general told me this explanation is highly improbable—any careful discussion of the strike would have considered potential casualties at the outset. But whatever his reasoning, the president’s reversal occasioned such relief that it obscured the gravity of his original decision.

“How did we even get to that point?” the general asked me in astonishment. Given what a tinderbox that part of the world is, what kind of commander in chief would risk war with Iran over a drone?

Not only would a retaliatory strike have failed the litmus test of proportionality, this general said, but it would have accomplished little, escalated the dispute with Iran, and risked instigating a broad conflict. In an all-out war, the U.S. would defeat Iran’s armed forces, but not without enormous bloodshed, and not just in Iran. Iran and its proxies would launch terrorist strikes on American and allied targets throughout the Middle East and beyond. If the regime were to fall, what would come next? Who would step in to govern a Shiite Muslim nation of 82 million steeped for generations in hatred of America? The mullahs owe their power to the American overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, an event widely regarded in Iran (and elsewhere) as an outrage. Conquering Americans would not be greeted by happy Persian crowds. The generals observed that those who predicted such parades in Baghdad following the ouster of Saddam Hussein instead got a decade-long bloodbath. Iran has more than twice Iraq’s population, and is a far more developed nation. The Iraq War inspired the creation of ISIS and gave renewed momentum to al‑Qaeda imagine how war with Iran might mobilize Hezbollah, the richest and best-trained terrorist organization in the world.

Sometimes, of course, war is necessary. That’s why we maintain the most expensive and professional military in the world. But a fundamental reason to own such power is to avoid wars—especially wars that are likely to create worse problems than they solve.

General Votel, who commanded American forces in the region until he retired in March, told me that if the U.S. had carried out a retaliatory strike, “the trick for the military in this case would be to orchestrate some type of operation that would very quickly try and get us to an off-ramp—give them an off-ramp or provide us with an off-ramp—so we can get to some kind of discussion to resolve the situation.” Trump’s attack might have targeted some of the Iranian navy’s vessels and systems that threaten shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, Votel said, or it might have leveled a measured strike against the air defenses that struck the drone. Ideally it would have been followed by a pause, so diplomatic processes could kick in. The strike would have demonstrated to Iran that we have the capability and willingness to strike back if provoked, and made clear that in a serious fight, it could not prevail. But all of this presumes a sequence that would unfold in an orderly, rational way—a preposterous notion.

“This is all completely unpredictable,” Votel said. “It’s hard for me to see how it would play out. We would be compelled to leave large numbers of forces in the region as a deterrent. If you don’t have an off-ramp, you’re going to find yourself in some kind of protracted conflict.” Which is precisely the kind of scenario Trump has derided in the past. His eagerness to free the U.S. from long-term military conflicts overseas was why he made his abrupt announcement about pulling out of Syria. Evidently he didn’t fully consider where a military strike against Iran was likely to lead.

The real reason Trump reversed himself on the retaliatory strike, one general said, was not because he suddenly learned of potential casualties, but because someone, most likely General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, aggressively confronted him with the extended implications of an attack.

“I know the chairman very well,” the general said. “He’s about as fine an officer as I have ever spent time around. I think if he felt the president was really heading in the wrong direction, he would let the president know.” He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have counseled against an attack as well. “Pompeo’s a really bright guy. I’m sure he would intervene and give the president his best advice.”

III. HE RESISTS COHERENT STRATEGY

If there is any broad logic to Trump’s behavior, it’s Keep ’em confused. He believes that unpredictability itself is a virtue.

Keeping an enemy off-balance can be a good thing, the generals agreed, so long as you are not off-balance yourself. And it’s a tactic, not a strategy. Consider Trump’s rhetorical dance with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. No president in modern times has made progress with North Korea. Capable of destroying Seoul within minutes of an outbreak of hostilities, Pyongyang has ignored every effort by the U.S. and its allies to deter it from building a nuclear arsenal.

Trump has gone back and forth dramatically on Kim. As a candidate in 2016, he said he would get China to make the North Korean dictator “disappear in one form or another very quickly.” Once in office, he taunted Kim, calling him “Little Rocket Man,” and suggested that the U.S. might immolate Pyongyang. Then he switched directions and orchestrated three personal meetings with Kim.

“That stuff is just crazy enough to work,” one of the generals told me with a what-the-hell? chuckle. “We’ll see what happens. If they can get back to some kind of discussion, if it can avert something, it will have been worth it. The unconventional aspect of that does have the opportunity to shake some things up.”

In the long run, however, unpredictability is a problem. Without a coherent underlying strategy, uncertainty creates confusion and increases the chance of miscalculation—and miscalculation, the generals pointed out, is what starts most wars. John F. Kennedy famously installed a direct hotline to the Kremlin in order to lower the odds of blundering into a nuclear exchange. Invading Kuwait, Saddam Hussein stumbled into a humiliating defeat in the first Gulf War—a conflict that killed more than 100,000 people—after a cascading series of miscommunications and miscalculations led to a crushing international response.

Unpredictability becomes an impediment to success when it interferes with orderly process. “Say you’re going to have an engagement with North Korea,” a general who served under multiple presidents told me. “At some point you should have developed a strategy that says, Here’s what we want the outcome to be. And then somebody is developing talking points. Those talking points are shared with the military, with the State Department, with the ambassador. Whatever the issue might be, before the president ever says anything, everybody should know what the talking points are going to be.” To avoid confusion and a sense of aimlessness, “everybody should have at least a general understanding of what the strategy is and what direction we’re heading in.”

Which is frequently not the case now.

“If the president says ‘Fire and brimstone’ and then two weeks later says ‘This is my best friend,’ that’s not necessarily bad—but it’s bad if the rest of the relevant people in the government responsible for executing the strategy aren’t aware that that’s the strategy,” the general said. Having a process to figure out the sequences of steps is essential. “The process tells the president what he should say. When I was working with Obama and Bush,” he continued, “before we took action, we would understand what that action was going to be, we’d have done a Q&A on how we think the international community is going to respond to that action, and we would have discussed how we’d deal with that response.”

To operate outside of an organized process, as Trump tends to, is to reel from crisis to rapprochement to crisis, generating little more than noise. This haphazard approach could lead somewhere good—but it could just as easily start a very big fire.

If the president eschews the process, this general told me, then when a challenging national-security issue arises, he won’t have information at hand about what the cascading effects of pursuing different options might be. “He’s kind of shooting blind.” Military commanders find that disconcerting.

“The process is not a panacea—Bush and Obama sometimes made bad decisions even with all the options in front of them—but it does help.”

Illustration: Paul Spella Eric Thayer / Reuters

IV. “HE IS REFLEXIVELY CONTRARY”

General H. R. McMaster, who left the White House on reasonably good terms in April 2018 after only 14 months as national security adviser, is about as can-do a professional as you will find. He appeared to take Trump seriously, and tailored his briefings to accommodate the president’s famous impatience, in order to equip him for the weighty decisions the office demands. But Trump resents advice and instruction. He likes to be agreed with. Efforts to broaden his understanding irritate him. McMaster’s tenure was bound to be short. Weeks before accepting his resignation, the president let it be known that he found McMaster’s briefings tedious and the man himself “gruff and condescending.”

Distrusting expertise, Trump has contradicted and disparaged the intelligence community and presided over a dismantling of the State Department. This has meant leaving open ambassadorships around the world, including in countries vital to American interests such as Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Russia, and Ukraine. High-level foreign officers, seeing no opportunities for advancement, have been leaving.

“When you lose these diplomats and ambassadors that have all this experience, this language capability, this cultural understanding, that makes things very, very difficult for us,” one of the generals said. “And it leads to poor decisions down the line.”

Trump so resists being led that his instinct is nearly always to upend prevailing opinion.

“He is reflexively contrary,” another of the generals told me.

According to those who worked with him, McMaster avoided giving the president a single consensus option, even when one existed. He has said that he always tried to give the president room to choose. After leaving the White House, he criticized others in the national-security community for taking a different approach, accusing them of withholding information in hopes of steering Trump in the direction they preferred. McMaster has not named names, but he was most likely talking about Mattis and General John Kelly, who, after serving as Trump’s homeland-security secretary, became the president’s second chief of staff. McMaster has said that he considered such an approach tantamount to subverting the Constitution—but if his allegation is true, it shows how poorly equipped those people felt Trump was for the job. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report records numerous instances of civilian advisers trying to manage the president, or simply ignoring presidential directives they deemed ill-advised or illegal.

During his brief tenure on Trump’s staff, McMaster oversaw the production of a broad national-security strategy that sought to codify Trump’s “America first” worldview, placing immigration at the head of national-security concerns, right alongside nuclear proliferation and terrorist attacks. The idea was to build a coherent structure around the president’s scattershot diplomacy. Trump rhapsodized about the document at its unveiling, according to someone who was there, saying, “I love it! I love it! I want to use this all the time.”

He hasn’t. Like its author, the document has been dismissed. Those who were involved in writing it remain convinced, somewhat hopefully, that it is still helping guide policy, but John Bolton, McMaster’s successor, said scornfully—a few months before he, too, was ousted by Trump—that it is filed away somewhere, consulted by no one.

Trump is no more likely to have read the thing than he is to have written his own books. (Years ago, after he published The Art of the Deal, he asked me if I was interested in writing his next book. I declined.) Trying to shape this president’s approach to the world into a cogent philosophy is a fool’s errand. For those commanding America’s armed forces, it’s best to keep binoculars trained on his Twitter feed.

V. HE HAS A SIMPLISTIC AND ANTIQUATED NOTION OF SOLDIERING

Though he disdains expert advice, Trump reveres—perhaps fetishizes—the military. He began his presidency by stacking his administration with generals: Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, and, briefly, Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser. Appointing them so soon after their retirement from the military was a mistake, according to Don Bolduc, a retired brigadier general who is currently running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. Early on, the biggest difference Bolduc saw between the Trump administration and its predecessors, and one he felt was “going to be disruptive in the long term,” was “the significant reliance, in the Pentagon at least, on senior military leadership overriding and making less relevant our civilian oversight. That was going to be a huge problem. The secretary of defense pretty much surrounded himself with his former Marine comrades, and there was, at least from that group, a distrust of civilians that really negatively affected the Pentagon in terms of policy and strategy in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, by following the same old failed operational approaches.” Trump’s reliance on military solutions is problematic because “there are limits to what the military can solve. I think initially the Trump administration held this idea that general officers somehow have all the answers to everything. I think the president discovered in short order that that’s really not the case.”

Bolduc also pointed out an unusual leadership challenge caused by having a general of McMaster’s rank serve as national security adviser—he did not retire when he assumed the post. “McMaster, for whom I have tremendous respect, came in as a three-star general. Leaving him a three-star forces him on a daily basis to have to engage with four-star generals who see his rank as beneath theirs, even though his position is much more than that.”

The problems posed by Trump’s skewed understanding of the military extend beyond bad decision making to the very culture of our armed forces: He apparently doesn’t think American soldiers accused of war crimes should be prosecuted and punished. In early May, he pardoned former Army Lieutenant Michael Behenna, who had been convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner. Two weeks later, he asked the Justice Department to prepare pardon materials for a number of American servicemen and contractors who were charged with murder and desecration of corpses, including Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who stood accused by his own team members of fatally stabbing a teenage ISIS prisoner and shooting unarmed civilians. (He was ultimately acquitted of the murders but convicted of posing for photos with the boy’s body.) Trump subsequently chastised the military attorneys who had prosecuted Gallagher, and directed that medals awarded to them be rescinded. All of the generals agreed that interfering with the military’s efforts to police itself badly undermines command and control. When thousands of young Americans are deployed overseas with heavy weaponry, crimes and atrocities will sometimes occur. Failing to prosecute those who commit them invites behavior that shames everyone in uniform and the nation they serve.

“He doesn’t understand the warrior ethos,” one general said of the president. “The warrior ethos is important because it’s sort of a sacred covenant not just among members of the military profession, but between the profession and the society in whose name we fight and serve. The warrior ethos transcends the laws of war it governs your behavior. The warrior ethos makes units effective because of the values of trust and self-sacrifice associated with it—but the warrior ethos also makes wars less inhumane and allows our profession to maintain our self-respect and to be respected by others. Man, if the warrior ethos gets misconstrued into ‘Kill them all …’ ” he said, trailing off. Teaching soldiers about ethical conduct in war is not just about morality: “If you treat civilians disrespectfully, you’re working for the enemy! Trump doesn’t understand.”

Having never served or been near a battlefield, several of the generals said, Trump exhibits a simplistic, badly outdated notion of soldiers as supremely “tough”—hard men asked to perform hard and sometimes ugly jobs. He also buys into a severely outdated concept of leadership. The generals, all of whom have led troops in combat, know better than most that war is hard and ugly, but their understanding of “toughness” goes well beyond the gruff stoicism of a John Wayne movie. Good judgment counts more than toughness.


Twenty-five years after the battle chronicled in the best-selling book, the author argues that we’ve learned the wrong lessons about fighting terrorism

Twenty-five years ago, I was drawn to Somalia in the aftermath of Operation Restore Hope, a U.S. initiative supporting a United Nations resolution that aimed to halt widespread starvation. The effort, started in 1992, secured trade routes so food could get to Somalis. The U.N. estimated that no fewer than 250,000 lives were saved. But Operation Restore Hope would be best remembered in the United States for a spectacular debacle that has shaped foreign policy ever since.

Almost right away, militias led by the Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid began attacking and killing U.N. peacekeepers. On October 3 and 4, 1993, U.S. forces set out on a snatch-and-grab mission to arrest two of Aidid’s lieutenants. The plan was to surround a white three-story house in the capital city of Mogadishu where leaders of Aidid’s Habar Gidir clan were gathering. Rangers would helicopter in, lower themselves on ropes and surround the building on all sides. A ground convoy of trucks and Humvees would wait outside the gate to carry away the troops and their prisoners. Altogether, the operation would involve 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles and around 160 troops.

The operation didn’t go as planned. The ground convoy ran up against barricades formed by local militias. One helicopter landed a block north of its target and couldn’t move closer because of groundfire. A ranger fell from his rope and had to be evacuated. Insurgents shot down two American Black Hawk helicopters with rocket-propelled grenades. When about 90 U.S. Rangers and Delta Force operators rushed to the rescue, they were caught in an intense exchange of gunfire and trapped overnight.

Altogether, the 18-hour urban firefight, later known as the Battle of Mogadishu, left 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis dead. News outlets broadcast searing images of jubilant mobs dragging the bodies of dead Army special operators and helicopter crewmen through the streets of Mogadishu. The newly elected U.S. president, Bill Clinton, halted the mission and ordered the Special Forces out by March 31, 1994.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning photo provoked outrage in the U.S. and changed the course of global events. It later inspired a play called The Body of an American. (Paul Watson / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

For Somalis, the consequences were severe. Civil war raged—Aidid himself was killed in the fighting in 1996—and the country remained lawless for decades. Pirate gangs along the country’s long Indian Ocean coastline menaced vital shipping lanes. Wealthy and educated Somalis fled.

When I visited Somalia for the first time, in 1997, the country was well off the map of world interest. There were no commercial flights to the capital city, but each morning small planes took off from Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, for rural landing strips throughout the country. My plane was met by a small platoon of hired gunmen. On our way into the city, smaller bands of brigands grudgingly removed barriers that had been stretched across the dirt road to halt traffic. The driver of my vehicle tossed fistfuls of near-worthless paper Somali shillings as we passed these local versions of tollbooths.

The city itself was in ruins. The few large buildings were battle-scarred and filled with squatters, whose fires glowed through windows empty of glass and stripped of aluminum frames. Gas generators banged away to provide power to those few places where people could afford it. Militias fought along the borders of city sectors, filling the hospitals with bloody fighters, most of them teenagers. The streets were mostly empty, except for caravans of gunmen. Without government, laws, schools, trash pickups or any feature of civil society, extended clans offered the only semblance of safety or order. Most were at war with each other for scarce resources.

(Michael Byers)

I described this wasteland in my 1999 book about the Battle of Mogadishu and its aftermath, Black Hawk Down (the basis of the 2001 movie directed by Ridley Scott). When I returned to the States and spoke to college audiences about the state of things in Somalia, I would ask if there were any anarchists in the crowd. Usually a hand or two went up. “Good news,” I told them, “you don’t have to wait.”

The consequences were felt in America, too. After Mogadishu, the United States became wary of deploying ground forces anywhere. So there was no help from America in 1994 when Rwandan Hutus slaughtered as many as a million of their Tutsi countrymen. Despite a global outcry, U.S. forces stayed home in 1995 as Bosnian Serbs mounted a genocidal campaign against Muslim and Croatian civilians.

That isolationism ended abruptly on September 11, 2001. But even as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, they kept their distance from the Islamic insurgents in Somalia. During the last two years of the Obama administration, there were only 18 airstrikes (both drones and manned) on Somalia.

Map of Somalia at the time of the conflict. (Guilbert Gates)

Now things are changing. In the past two years, U.S. forces have conducted 63 airstrikes on targets in Somalia. The number of American forces on the ground has doubled, to about 500. And there have already been fatalities: a Navy SEAL, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, was killed in May of 2017 assisting Somali National Army troops in a raid about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, and Army Staff Sgt. Alexander Conrad was killed and four others wounded in June of this year during a joint mission in Jubaland.

All of this might raise the question: What do we expect to achieve by returning to Somalia? After years of turmoil in Afghanistan and Iraq, why should we expect this mission to be any different?

A casual visitor to Mogadishu today might not see an urgent need for U.S. ground troops. There are tall new buildings, and most of the old shanties have been replaced by houses. There are police, sanitation crews and new construction everywhere. Peaceful streets and thriving markets have begun to restore the city to its former glory as a seaside resort and port. Somali expatriates have begun reinvesting, and some are returning. The airport is up and running, with regular Turkish Airlines flights.

Brig. Gen. Miguel Castellanos first entered Mogadishu as a young Army officer with the Tenth Mountain Division in 1992, looking down from the open door of a Black Hawk helicopter. He is now the senior U.S. military officer in Somalia. “I was pretty surprised when I landed a year ago and there was actually a skyline,” he told me.

A Somali woman and her emaciated baby in 1992. An estimated 350,000 Somalis died from war, disease and starvation that year. President George H.W. Bush ordered emergency airlifts of food and supplies. (Liba Taylor / Robert Harding / Alamy)

Somalia largely has its neighbors to thank for this prosperity. In 2007, African Union soldiers—mostly from Uganda but also from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone—began pushing the extremist group the Shabab out of the country’s urban centers with an effort dubbed the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). The United States lent support in the form of training and equipment. Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have taken advantage of the newfound peace and bankrolled development of Somalia’s port cities.

The problem is in the rural areas. There, basic security depends almost entirely on local militias whose loyalties are tied to clans and warlords. “There is a real black-and-white, good and evil struggle in Somalia,” said Stephen Schwartz, who served as U.S. ambassador there until the end of September 2017. “The forces of chaos, of Islamist extremism, are powerful and have decades of inertia behind them in criminality, the warlords and cartels.”

Young people play soccer at an abandoned Mogadishu secondary school in June 2018 as smoke from burning garbage fills the air around them. (Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP / Getty Images)

If current conditions persist, the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa, could end up controlling large parts of the country, says Abdullahi Halakhe, a security consultant for the Horn of Africa who previously worked for the U.N. and the BBC. “They would be running their own schools, their own clinics, collecting trash. That is where the appeal of this group comes.”

So far, the United States has been dealing with this threat with a string of targeted killings. Top Shabab leaders were killed by U.S. raids and airstrikes in 2017 and 2018. But the experts I spoke with told me these hits may not ultimately accomplish much. “Killing leaders is fine, makes everybody feel good they wake up in the morning, big headline they can quantify—‘Oh we killed this guy, we killed that guy’—but it has absolutely no long-term effect and it really doesn’t have any short-term effect either,” said Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who until last year commanded Special Operations in Africa and directly oversaw such efforts. “Someone is always going to be there to be the next leader.”

Every expert I spoke with recommended investing in rebuilding the country instead. This approach didn’t work well in Afghanistan, but there are differences. Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, is friendly to the United States—and he was chosen by his own people, not installed by the U.S. Somalia’s Islamist extremists no longer enjoy broad ideological support. “There was a time when the Shabab could transcend all the regional clan differences and project this kind of Pan Somalia, Pan Islam type of image,” said Halakhe. “That is gone.”

Turkish and Somali leaders tour a new military training center in September 2017. Turkey has been responsible for funding much of the recent development in Somalia. (AP Photo / Farah Abdi Warsame)

The country’s problems are mostly economic, says Bolduc, and solving them would cost so much less than the trillions spent in Afghanistan and Iraq that the question doesn’t fall into the same category. He points to success in Puntland, Somalia’s northernmost member state. In 2017, Bolduc and his special forces worked with the state’s president, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, and with American diplomats to assemble local forces and tribal elders. They trained the Puntland militias but offered no air or ground support. Working entirely on their own, Somali forces moved from southern Puntland up to a northern port where the Islamic State (a rival of the Shabab) had established control. They took back everything and secured it in about a week. “ISIS East Africa has not been able to get a foothold back into these areas,” says Bolduc. “And those villages are holding today.”

Schwartz says this success could be replicated throughout Somalia if the United States invested a fraction of what it has been spending on special operators and drones. “The budget of the Somali government is comparable to the salary cap for the Washington Nationals baseball team,” he said. “They’re both around $210 million.” He said that less than half that amount would be enough to enable the president to pay the salaries of Somalia National Army recruits and other government employees. That step alone, he says, “would make our investment on the military side more successful.”

It would be foolish to try such an intervention in other countries where America is in conflicts. It wouldn’t work, for instance, in Pakistan, where there’s a powerful Islamist presence, a sophisticated military and a history of tensions with the United States. Our experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq—and, years ago, in Vietnam—showed us that American efforts will continually fail if there isn’t a willing local government with the support of the people.

But just because those approaches failed in the past doesn’t mean they have to fail in Somalia. Radical Islam takes different forms, and there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to fighting it. In countries where leaders are friendly and ideologies don’t run deep, there may still be an opportunity to build enduring stability. These days, that might be as good a definition of “victory” as we can get.

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

On October 3, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead, they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis.

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This article is a selection from the January/February issue of Smithsonian magazine


'We Can And Should Teach This History': New Bills Limit How Teachers Talk About Race

'We Can And Should Teach This History': New Bills Limit How Teachers Talk About Race

Vida Robertson directs the Center for Critical Race Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown. He called Toth's bill "a concerted attempt by Republicans to stifle a widespread and overwhelming demand for racial equality and social justice in the United States by mischaracterizing critical race theory as some abhorrent plot to undermine America."

He said it will give parents who are uncomfortable with the nation's ongoing racial reckoning a tool to go after teachers.

Teachers' fears of the thought police

Meghan Dougherty, who helps public school teachers in Round Rock, Texas, develop social studies lessons plans, said Texas teachers already feel that pressure, including one of her colleagues who during the pandemic gave students a virtual lesson on race and prejudice in U.S. society. She said a father at home overheard a portion of it.

More on the Texas bill

"Then he wrote an email to the administration complaining that the teacher was accusing his child of being a racist when they were having a conversation about implicit bias and what implicit bias is and how it affects us," Dougherty said.

She said the proposed bill makes it feel like the thought police are descending on Texas. She said she knows teachers who are already self-censoring. They're "afraid to speak out on issues because they feel there are going to be repercussions from their districts," she said.

Paul Kleiman, a high school history teacher in Round Rock, said he's concerned about the provision in Texas' bill that would require him to teach all sides of current events and ugly chapters in history without giving any side deference. He asked how he would do that when teaching subjects such as the Holocaust, or the civil rights movement.

"Does the state of Texas want me to stand up and spend class time saying, well, let's look at all sides of this topic?" Kleiman said. "I don't think that's what the state of Texas wants. But that's what this bill does."


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