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Porpoise101
September 9th, 2016, 07:56 PM
NOTE: Skip to the bottom if you want to get to the big ideas

So I have been looking into fractured states and civil wars because to me they are pretty interesting. While looking into things, I realized interesting similarities between the present conditions of Somalia and China during the Warlord Era of the 1910s and 20s. However, there are a few major differences that I'll note later on.

First, let's look at both of the situations with maps because those are useful. Let's look at China first.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/be/Warlords_1925.png
Ok this map is somewhat difficult to understand without context. Here, the blue are factions which allied and became the government of China until the second civil war. Ironically, the Communists would rise up initially in that part of the nation. All of the red areas are different warlord states. Different Western powers backed them and used them for influence in trade and other dealings in China. The south of China in particular had many ideological radicals. The map doesn't include Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang which were almost totally enveloped in foreign influence and separated from China.

Now let's look at Somalia in its current state:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9f/Somalia_map_states_regions_districts.png/1024px-Somalia_map_states_regions_districts.png
In this map you see various factions which want to increase their power. Right now there is a war, so the blue are the 'Allies' and the green are Islamist groups such as Al-Shabaab. I dislike this map because the mapmaker considers Puntland to be an allied power, but that is because it is in an interesting category of separatists. Puntland and Somaliland are not allied with the Islamists (Puntland even sends forces against them), but they do want to separate from Somalia as independent states.

These situations are semi-similar in my mind. This can give us an idea where the country is heading. In both situations, weakness of a nation is allowing foreign influences to creep in. In China, it was Western powers. In Somalia, it's primarily Ethiopia and international sponsors of Islamist movements. It is also allowing minority groups to break free. Tibetans, Ughyurs, Mongols, and Manchus all broke free from the tyranny of the Han Chinese. Ideological radicals are able to pop up in these situations. In China, it was nationalists, liberals, and communists. In Somalia, it's Islamists and secessionists. Another interesting aspect is the clan system. In China, the warlord cliques often had a military family at the center, often from earlier Imperial times. It is the same thing with Somalia, where clans from ancient times coalesced into larger movements.

Now, Somalia isn't going to fall to Communists, reclaim it's territory, and become a world power anytime soon. In China, even after Chaing Kai Shek consolidated power, the nation was divided until the Japanese invaded. In Somalia there isn't really an existential threat to come in and unite the people.

Big idea incoming:
Back before imperialism and conquest were looked down upon, if a government was failing, a neighboring state would swoop in and take over. This restored order when the invaders could integrate the new territories. Either that, or the people straightened up and worked together against the invaders. In our era of international cooperation and non-invasion, a problem has begun to show its face. While peace brings benefit between stable nations, it also allows instability to fester in failed states. This can cause disturbances to neighboring nations (hello Syria?) and it could eventually come with more costs than having foreigners invade and restore peace. I'm not a fan of imperialism and colonization, but sometimes I think at least a threat would be needed to keep states competitive and functional.

Ragle
September 10th, 2016, 03:08 AM
A thread? I only can think of the UN and its peacekeeping forces. But until this jabber club agrees on something, Somalia will certainly be completely ruined.

Living For Love
September 10th, 2016, 04:06 AM
The problem with Somalia and many other African countries is that decolonisation wasn't properly done, which led to civil wars between the factions that previously fought together the colonising country.

Porpoise101
September 10th, 2016, 02:18 PM
The problem with Somalia and many other African countries is that decolonisation wasn't properly done, which led to civil wars between the factions that previously fought together the colonising country.
Somalia was worse off because originally it was a bunch of separate sultanates. Then during the colonial period, it was separated between the British and Italians. This means that there were separate local rulers and independence movements. This would cause problems later because these movements would start to conflict with each other when the British united the colony. Yet even though the Somalians want to be different and apart, they have a common tongue and culture. This makes each claim have a nationalist desire to unite the nation, driving the conflict. Currently the Federal Government Alliance is looking to be pretty strong, but the factions within it are too loose. Even if Al-Shabaab is to be defeated, there is still the question of Somaliland.

Flapjack
September 11th, 2016, 11:55 AM
I think countries should show more humanity and assist other countries through hard times but I am glad colonialism is a thing of the past. Countries didn't colonise unstable nations to help, they took advantage of their weakness and took over either for power or resources.

candorgen
September 12th, 2016, 04:26 AM
Failed/shoddy decolonisation is one big factor in this. Funny how someone else might need to colonise Somalia to sort out the vacuum of political/economic order that came from that.

Porpoise101
September 12th, 2016, 04:02 PM
Countries didn't colonise unstable nations to help, they took advantage of their weakness and took over either for power or resources.
Of course they didn't do it to help the native people. They did it in their national self interest which had a positive benefit of actually uniting the people. This could have united the people with them, or more often, against them. I am not really a fan of colonization, but I think some outside force coming in may have its uses.

ThisBougieLife
September 12th, 2016, 10:43 PM
I understand what you're saying. Although what Paraxiom says is true: a lot of these problems stem from colonization in the first place. If colonization isn't "done right", it just creates even bigger problems than before. Colonization could unite the people of Somalia, or it could create even worse problems (hard to imagine there, but it's possible). I guess it becomes an issue of ends vs. means.

Flapjack
September 13th, 2016, 01:29 AM
Of course they didn't do it to help the native people. They did it in their national self interest which had a positive benefit of actually uniting the people. This could have united the people with them, or more often, against them. I am not really a fan of colonization, but I think some outside force coming in may have its uses.
That self interest does not always benefit the people. If it goes against the people's wishes then I think colonisation is bad.

candorgen
September 13th, 2016, 06:24 AM
That self interest does not always benefit the people. If it goes against the people's wishes then I think colonisation is bad.

If by "the people's wishes" you mean the wishes of the people whose territory is being colonised, then I'm sceptical that any colonisation isn't bad.

Flapjack
September 13th, 2016, 08:13 AM
If by "the people's wishes" you mean the wishes of the people whose territory is being colonised, then I'm sceptical that any colonisation isn't bad.
I assume there are cases in history where countries have wanted to be occupied, Crimea is a recent example. (I know Crimea is not a country) If I was starving to death or in a high crime area and a country like Norway wanted to take us over and actually help us, I would support it :)

Vlerchan
September 13th, 2016, 10:19 AM
I don't agree that there has been a cultural shift in the direction of non-intervention or that the geopolitical realism of state-actors has been blunted. It's mentioned in the OP that Kenya has intervened in Somalia and, as far as I am aware, there exposure is significant enough. In the case of Iraq, the U.S. occupied the state until it figured that it was no longer in its interests, and there's been multiple interventions in Syria.

What's changed is that insurgencies have become increasingly difficult to topple and - for the most part - this is down to modern communications technologies: wireless communication infrastructure, and the international media. States are as interested in intervention as ever, but the costs of intervention are just higher.

Colonialism also had pretty significant long-run net results on the colonised regions since because imperialist states set-up extractive institutions that tended to persist afterwards, framing post-colonial politics, so I'm against as a development strategy.

candorgen
September 13th, 2016, 01:33 PM
I assume there are cases in history where countries have wanted to be occupied, Crimea is a recent example. (I know Crimea is not a country) If I was starving to death or in a high crime area and a country like Norway wanted to take us over and actually help us, I would support it :)

Theoretically I get you, but I am suspicious about that referendum that permitted (let's say) Crimea's integration into the Russian Federation - I would be more surprised if the results were not tampered with by the Russians. Nevertheless what you say is possible.

Porpoise101
September 13th, 2016, 04:31 PM
I don't agree that there has been a cultural shift in the direction of non-intervention or that the geopolitical realism of state-actors has been blunted.

In my view, after Vietnam the political costs of intervention increased. In the Age of Imperialism, the ideas of war were noble, the public wanted to fight and suppress "savages". I doubt that the US would be willing to occupy the whole of the Caribbean and Central America as we did in the early 1900s.


What's changed is that insurgencies have become increasingly difficult to topple and - for the most part - this is down to modern communications technologies: wireless communication infrastructure, and the international media. States are as interested in intervention as ever, but the costs of intervention are just higher.

The fact that it has been harder to do so I believe is a geographical issue as well as a technological one. Intervention in inhospitable environments is difficult. That's why the deserts of Anbar and the mountains of Afghanistan are difficult to deal with. The other problem is the proliferation of weapons. If people don't have the means to fight, then they are less willing to. I think occupiers need to think in terms of demilitarization.

Colonialism also had pretty significant long-run net results on the colonised regions since because imperialist states set-up extractive institutions that tended to persist afterwards, framing post-colonial politics, so I'm against as a development strategy.

I am against colonialism. The only benefit it brought historically was some infrastructure as well as technology and medicine. Western ideas were a mixed bag as a whole, but democratic ideals and secularism were nice.

What I propose is a total occupation and rebuilding of the country. Think of the occupation of Japan or West Germany. Of course, those were western nations, but I am not sure that a situation like that would be bad. I only think the reason we don't do that in broken nations is because it costs a lot for minimal benefit. Rebuilding and restructuring Germany and Japan served a geopolitical interest. I am not sure of the benefit Somalia would bring, other than being an important convergence of international shipping.

Edit: I should also add that I am in favor of Somaliland independence. If the nationalism happens and they wish to unite, it should be with a referendum or another stable solution.

Vlerchan
September 14th, 2016, 08:57 AM
In my view, after Vietnam the political costs of intervention increased. In the Age of Imperialism, the ideas of war were noble, the public wanted to fight and suppress "savages". I doubt that the US would be willing to occupy the whole of the Caribbean and Central America as we did in the early 1900s.

I agree with this, and I see the increase in political costs as a considerable proportion of the overall rise in costs. That's the main reason I also connected international media to the issue, if it can be considered one.

Through 1952 - 1960, the British faced war with a brutal Kenyan insurgency. The easiest means to beat an insurgency is to control the population and the British felt that atrocities would need to be committed to this end. It managed to keep the records of such out of public view, and thus out of the political process, for about 50 years, before some researcher opened them up. Modern communication technologies - International Media, and their accessibility, has made even hoping to bypass the political process a thing of the past.

he fact that it has been harder to do so I believe is a geographical issue as well as a technological one.
I was speaking of general factors, as opposed to the ones more specific to the post-'Nam era. I would agree that the insurgencies that the United States, for example, had found themselves combating have taken much greater advantage of geographical hostilities.

Though, to what extent the ability of insurgencies to take advantage of their geography has been aided by technological advantages is probably worth considering.

I think occupiers need to think in terms of demilitarization.
Which neccisarily requires securing the whole population, which is difficult without significant rights abuses, and thus never going to be politically favourable.

Of course, those were western nations[.]
Their situations as people who lost great wars, and realised miraculously quickly afterwards that their state had been in the wrong, is also quite exceptional.

I had said before I had always preferred the idea of charter cities, where we let out a region to Western governance for a few decades and people can then vote with their feet as to whether they prefer to live under that charter or not. So consider Hong Kong when the British occupied it. What these failed states lack is the certainty for private people to figure them a good investment and build.

Porpoise101
September 14th, 2016, 03:36 PM
What these failed states lack is the certainty for private people to figure them a good investment and build.
Yes, that is the main issue with the Somaliland area right now. Since the federal government has no influence there, it can't build it up or improve it. Since it is unrecognized, the nations of the world can't really assist it. That is what happened to Tibet and Sinkiang/Xinjiang in the China situation. Even Ethiopia, its neighbor, has minimal relations which deal mostly with trade.

The other things you posted I agree with. One thing about the Mai Mai uprisings and the British response: the documents were planted. It's incredibly exceptional that the British would document their own abuses. It's even more so that they still existed (after independence in many nations, they burned many of their records to hide their past). To me it shows that the British Army had many internal critics of what they were doing in Kenya. If not, why would they note it?

jamie_n5
September 14th, 2016, 08:56 PM
Well sometimes outside help is good for some countries. But sometimes an other country will stick their nose into the other country too soon when if left alone the original country could have worked on and solved their own problems. I look at all the countries around the world. When they have a national disaster or the like they seem to look for the United States to step in and help them. I think that countries have become too dependent on us to help. When we have a major disaster here do you ever see any other country step up and help us? No. But I do agree that sometimes a neighboring country stepping in when an other country is failing can be helpful sometimes.

Voice_Of_Unreason
September 14th, 2016, 09:07 PM
I think that interference in other countries' business can have good and bad results. Take Iraq for example. USA went in, deposed a dictatorship, and set up a democracy. That could be seen as a good thing. Later, USA left too soon, leaving a power vacuum that eventually spawned ISIS. That is a bad thing. So colonization isn't always bad, the colonizing or influencing power just needs to know how to enter, help, and leave the country with minimal negative consequences.

Porpoise101
September 15th, 2016, 06:12 PM
I look at all the countries around the world. When they have a national disaster or the like they seem to look for the United States to step in and help them.
Often times the US is all too eager to jump in and help. I agree, sometimes the US is too nosy. But other times, I truly believe it is in the interest of the world.

In a way, we have already intervened in Somalia, as we have been droning Al-Shabaab and the Navy has been dealing with piracy.

candorgen
September 16th, 2016, 05:10 AM
Take Iraq for example. USA went in, deposed a dictatorship, and set up a democracy. That could be seen as a good thing.

It's more like the USA goes in to remove the current govt and replace it with another, in such a way that appeals to the interests of the US. If the US really was interested in promoting proper democracy around the place as a goal in itself, they would be doing way more occupation than has been seen to happen.
It didn't seem interested that much in removing Gaddafi, in fact they had a nice relationship going.

Anyhow I digress if I would continue. What I'm seeing in 'practical' situations colonisation is more an act done for the benefit of the colonisers rather than for the colonised, though the latter can be either apparently or actually done in some way to give it a neat frame in history.