A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“The Americans turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war.”
A new study shows that twice as many people died in 2011, in Somalia, than previously reported. The British government had estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 Somalis succumbed to hunger during the great drought, but the new study concludes that 260,000 died, half of them under the age of six.
As usual, corporate media coverage of the mass starvation puts the blame on the Shabaab fighters who have been resisting the United States and its allies’ war against the Somali people when, in fact, the death toll represents an American crime against humanity; just one chapter in an ongoing genocide that began in December, 2006. That’s when the U.S. and Ethiopia invaded Somalia to overthrow a broad-based Islamic Courts government that had defeated warlords supported by the United States. The savage assault from air, land and sea created what UN observers described as “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” It was a bloodbath engineered in George Bush’s Washington, and which has continued under President Obama.
The initial cause of the holocaust was not drought, but the savage slaughter of civilians by the invading Ethiopians and the resultant collapse of Somali agriculture. Mogadishu, the capital city, was put under a siege that would last for half a decade, while civilians were chased across the countryside by Ethiopian armor and bombed by U.S. aircraft. The United Nations Children’s Fund representative for Somalia spoke of the “dirtiness” of a conflict in which “children are the real target.”
Nevertheless, in the first years the war did not go well for Washington, whose Ethiopian allies who were forced to withdraw from much of the country after heavy losses. The Americans then turned to mass starvation as a weapon of war – a calculated act of genocide.
“The U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people.”
By late 2009, the U.S. began withholding food aid to the humanitarian relief agencies on which half of Somalis in the south and central parts of the country depended for survival, endangering three million people. The main sources of food were warehouses under U.S. control in neighboring Kenya, but the Americans drastically restricted the flow, complaining that too much food was going to Shabaab fighters. In effect, the U.S. tried to break the resistance by starving out the people – a genocide by any legal definition. By early 2011, the worst drought in decades was gripping the region, adding a natural layer of disaster to the manmade catastrophe that had begun in late 2006.
The scale of the horror was tremendous, made worse by the escalation of war and the entrance of Kenya into the carnage as an American client. Yet, the British claimed that only 50,000 to 100,000 died, and the United States declined to produce any official estimate. Finally, six and a half years after the U.S. plunged Somalia into hell, international officials are admitting that at least a quarter of a million people perished during just one period of the U.S.-backed invasion – all of them on President Obama’s watch.
The United States is an infernal killing machine, no matter the color of the criminal in the White House.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.