Trump and Somalia

December 7, 2020

The outgoing president took another deceptive public step on Dec. 2: He ordered the remaining 700 U.S. troops out of Somalia. These troops are part of the U.S. AFRICOM force that promotes U.S. imperialist interests throughout Africa. They will first redeploy to nearby Kenya, also in East Africa.

The U.S. troops have been carrying out extensive drone warfare against the Somali-based organization, al-Shabab.

Besides withdrawing troops from Somalia, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced administration plans in November to reduce U.S. troops from 3,000 to 2,500 in Iraq and from 4,500 to 2,500 in Afghanistan by mid-January.

Both big capitalist parties have started wars. Don’t expect this to change.

Republican as well as Democratic administrations have ordered, since 1990, major aggressive wars against Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, and with smaller forces against Syria, Libya and Ukraine. They have carried out strikes across Africa and engaged in subversion aimed at overthrowing progressive governments in Latin America.

The Republican and Democratic Party establishments share a common foreign policy goal: to maintain and if possible increase U.S. economic and strategic U.S. domination of the world. The Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA and various other sectors of the state apparatus enforce this strategy, regardless of which party is running the government.

Every invasion, bombing or other intervention by the U.S. has led to enormous suffering in the countries targeted, often with millions of victims. The interventions shower U.S. military industries with profits.

While the pretext for these interventions can be human rights, women’s rights or stopping terrorism — most often the real reason is to grab resources, usually oil, or to eliminate a strategic problem.

As U.S. imperialism’s economic and moral authority declines compared to  imperialist rivals — Europe, Japan — and especially to socialist China, Washington turns to weapons — where it is still Number One. Thus the drive to maintain hegemony pushes the world toward war no matter which party holds office.

Washington sometimes turns to other tools, from hired mercenaries to economic sanctions, to achieve the same goal of domination, with or without subversion or bombing. The sanctions sometimes kill as many people as war does.

In 2016, as an election ploy, Trump criticized “Washington’s endless wars,” although he supported them all when they began. After his four years in office, the longest ones — Iraq and Afghanistan — continue. His latest “withdrawals” might look like he’s trying to keep a 2016 election promise — but skepticism is justified.

Meanwhile he pumped up the Pentagon budget to record levels, exacerbated a confrontation with China, pulled out of the Intermediate Range Missile treaty with Russia, carried out many more drone strikes in Africa, dumped an historic agreement with Cuba, wrecked the nuclear treaty with Iran and assassinated an important Iranian political leader — or two.

Trump’s erratic aggression, however, is no reason to give the Democrats a free ride. Rep. Jim Langevin, a leading House Democrat and chair of the House subcommittee on intelligence and emerging threats, exposed Democratic Party warmongering. He called Trump’s Somalia withdrawal “a surrender to al-Qaida and a gift to China.” (, Dec. 4)

For the antiwar and anti-imperialist forces inside the U.S., any debate about Somalia should be seized as an opening to press demands to get U.S. troops out of all its 800-plus worldwide military bases, stop all U.S.-imposed sanctions and end U.S. world domination.