The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Destroying the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia Caused the Nairobi Mall Attack

Look, years ago, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) destroyed the warlords who ran Somalia’s capital.  These warlords, to give some context, would drag teenaged girls, by which I mean 14 years old, out of their parents shanty, take them away, and gang rape them.

The ICU were Islamic, to be sure, but they weren’t particularly radical as such folks go, and they brought law and order.  They were willing to make nice without the outside world, wanted to be the government and were willing to negotiate.  Sure, they would have imposed some variation of Sharia, but it would have been an improvement on the Warlords.  A massive improvement.

The West wouldn’t have it, it got African neighbors to invade (and don’t pretend it would have happened if the US, in particular, hadn’t wanted it to).  The ICU splintered, and as often happens, the people who replaced them were far nastier, were straight up Islamists.

And so you get this chilling statement:

An Al Shabaab spokesman as far back as in October 2011 had threatened Kenya with retaliation if it did not get its soldiers off Somali soil.

Ali Mohamud Rage said: ‘‘We, the Mujahideen, say to the Kenyan government: have you thought of the repercussions of the war against us? We are far more experienced in combat than you.’‘

Which is chilling because it is true.

As for driving them out of the cities, so what?  The Taliban was driven out of the cities too.  Rural based insurgencies don’t need the cities, they are not particularly important.  They’re easy for conventional militaries to hold, bit they also don’t matter much.




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  1. Celsius 233

    Couldn’t agree more with your post/thread Ian.
    Blowback; duh?
    America should be very proud; they have single handidly created the largest terrorist network the world has ever known; USA!, USA!,USA! Fuck yeah!

  2. In all of its massive coverage of the event, CBS Evening News mentioned that fact, in passing, one time. They did not, as you have done Ian, go into detail as to what it meant.

    I was watching when the US manipulated Kenya into invading Somalia. I was well aware that that invasion was fomented by my country, that we actually participated in it with air cover, and that we had made the lives of the people of Somalia infinitely worse in the process. I tried to find any source, other than the US government, that would suggest that the Islamic Courts Union was affiliated with or was harboring Al Queda terrorists, and I could find none. Not one single reference even hinted that they might be doing so, and I concluded that it was a fiction invented by this country.

    And now we were foaming at the mouth to bomb Syria. This is who we are.

  3. John Puma

    The ICU established some level of stability in Somalia.

    “The West wouldn’t have it, it got” Kenya (among which other Somali neighborS) to oust the ICU.

    The Kenya mall attack was in retaliation for Kenyan soldiers on Somali soil.

    So is the ICU is responsible for the mall attack in Kenya?

  4. Ian Welsh

    No, the ICU was replaced by much nastier people.

  5. S Brennan

    Move the economy away from petroleum carbon based fuels to electrical generation using LFTR, wind & solar and all this shit goes away…the only thing that requires petroleum is aviation*, everything else can be done by electricity. And no**, wind and solar won’t cut it when it comes to constant high load industrial processes***. Plus, we have a near endless supply of spent rods to reprocess, or dispose of in catacombs that have to last 100,000 years.

    These endless wars are the result of the US “elite” power structure’s refusal to consider the needs of any other industry before Oil. And please spare me the “oath of poverty” spiel that well to do “environmentalist” always try, I am willing to change to something better, but not regress into the some dark “randian utopia” of independent homesteads for those wealthy enough to shell out $25,000 – 35,000 to have their large lot homes make their own electricity during peak usage****.

    *And much of aviation can be replaced with high speed trains.

    **Sure, Germany got rid of it’s Nuclear overnight, which increased it’s carbon footprint by 13% in one year…and requires the purchase of France’s Nuclear generated electricity…and increased it’s rates, already highest in Europe.

    *** – “okay boys, the winds up, let’s get down to the plant and get a melt going before the wind dies on us…you know what happen last time…it will be decades of steel making before we make enough money to pay for that mess”

    **** – “sorry kids, no air conditioning tonight, it’s too hot, maybe it’ll cool down soon and we can get some sleep”

  6. Everythings Jake

    @ sbrennan

    I don’t want to regress either, but whether we like it or not, change is coming and keeping the lights on 24/7 is not going to be possible if we also want a world which distributes resources more equitably.

  7. Pat Sachs

    Hey – there are cheaper, safer forms of nuclear energy than we are using. But switching would be expensive so we don’t do it.

    The reason we are mucking in the mid east isn’t exactly energy anyway. It’s the way we decided decades ago to prop up the dollar – using petrol and our reserve currency status. It was a bad idea from the start. But changing such a longstanding policy requires thinking and a plan, not an emotional response.

    I also agree that the US should mind its own business internationally. But we have to elect differently to get people who will know how to run a Constitutional government and not the one we have.

  8. S Brennan

    “keeping the lights on 24/7 is not going to be possible”

    Well EJ, I respect you, but…I beg to differ. LED’s cut consumption by a factor of 9-10…and hey, they last about 50 times longer…now dim-able, in great soothing tones…or vibrant colors…so that’s like a freebee upgrade. And guess what? CREE makes the best…if only “bomber” Obama wasn’t such a pathetic dip-shit. Manufacturing & installing USA made LED’s was a “shovel ready”, made in America jobs program…a perfect, low risk investment in America’s future.

    We don’t have to do without, we just have to RE-tame capitalism…a certain jack-ass named Milton Friedman conned my fellow Americans with a 12 part, one hour per episode series, shown for FREE, on GOVERNMENT TV, that COMPLETELY unfettered capitalism was the ONLY answer to EVERY problem. How…anybody…would want to return to 19th century capitalism is beyond me, but that is what we did…sans the protections of mercantilism.

    The FDR governments, 1932~1978 were far from perfect, but they beat the shit out of anything else we’ve tried, before, or since. We need to find our way back to the trail we were once on, FDR, IKE, JFK, or LBJ would not have missed the chance to “make work” during a deep depression by lighting up the country with indigenous technology that is 10 times better than what we have.

  9. Everythings Jake

    @s brennan

    I have no disagreement with your political outlook, highly favor it even. But I meant keeping the lights on 24/7 more as a metaphor for resource consumption at our current level. We have poisoned so much of our environment, and collapsed so many of its ecosystems, I just don’t see how it’s possible. Not that we should necessarily eat fish, but I stopped altogether because it’s impossible to tell what might have shipped from the Gulf, which we have all but killed. Plastics have disrupted the endocrine systems of nearly every species on the planet, and the list goes on and on. I don’t want to regress to a neo-feudalistic society, but neither do I believe that we can long keep open all night 7/11s. Also let us not forget that much of glory days FDR to LBJ were still built on the war economy and the ruthless subjugation of the third world. Distribution may have been better in the US and Europe, and to a degree in the oil-archies. But my premise is, if we want a more equitable and sustainable distribution of resources GLOBALLY, then the West is going to have cut back, pure and simple. CREE LEDs may move us in that direction, but they aren’t a solution. They aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, making windmills and solar panels with wind and solar energy yet, which means a lot more fossil fuel to accelerate climate change, and manufacturing in general still consumes a tremendous amount of water.

  10. Everythings Jake

    Ack. Rewrite: “CREE LEDs may move us in that direction, but they but a part of the solution.”

  11. S Brennan

    EJ, under the current construct of the USA’s socioeconomic structure a 20% reduction of consumer spending would be accomplished through the bottom 3/4ths doing 98% of the sacrificing… just as it has been with war, “belt tightening”, and job loss, so too it will be with such a protocol of enforced poverty.

    As we have recently seen displayed in public, the dark, invisible hand of the secret state works to profit the powerful. The US “colonization’s” are without exception, net losses to the USA as a whole, only a small, concentrated group takes profits, while the public pays the tab. And so it goes. My point being, we are in possession of an entire continent, we NEED little, but are elite lacks the ability to conceive of a world where resources were created through scientific and engineering endeavors rather than being stolen by brute force…during the 40 year period I mentioned above, that was not a universally held belief of our rulers. The infrastructure we now possess was built with American hands

    In your mentioned example of plastics, is one the “unmentionable” goblins of globalism. The vast majority of plastic found in the environment is direct result. Big box stores [which wouldn’t exist without foreign slave labor] demand that their products be packaged in plastic shells that regularly injure consumers, are hated by customers and clog land fills.

    Another goblin of globalism [to which I have personal experience] is the pollution created by the ships burning bunker oil, British officials estimate several thousand deaths per year, “this pollution could kill as many as a million more people in the coming decade-UK-DailyMail”. 16 ships produce more pollution than all the worlds cars together…and their are about 100,000 “trade” ships at sea at any given moment. Still, barriers to “free” trade and the protections that tariffs afford must be eliminated. And to whose benefit? Surely, not the lower 95% who have lost their livelihood and are covered daily with a fine film of Thorium and Mercury from China’s UNREGULATED coal burning power generation. Not to mention, all the plastic trash that these ships leave in their wake intentionally and an estimated 10,000 containers per year lost overboard. Those containers are kept afloat by the plastic containers within…hidden steel icebergs that sink smaller vessels in the middle of the night…only to eventually breakdown to release their contents.

    Another goblin of globalism, is unsustainable fisheries, the nets, long lines un-employ thousand of capable fisherman…keep killing long after they have been lost. It has been estimated that in some years, lost nets and lines take more fish than all the worlds fisheries together. Who benefits from these machines? Go talk to the trollers on the west coast of Vancouver Is, small businessmen forced to sell their premium product at world prices…and at a loss. Those same fishermen have been taking in the chops for years as the forest surrounding spawning grounds is clearcut to supply China’s mills, their trees having been denuded to supply products for export in the 17th, 18th & 19th centuries.

    That said, I am all for the banning of plastic bags, [I bring my own…and it’s a real time saver…once you make the habit stick], but the individual can not stop the tide of pollution that “globalism”, or do you say slave trade, wreaks. While we are taught mercantilism is bad, the truth is just the opposite, in fact, the first cargo that made “globalism” profitable, was the slaves. None of this can be fixed under the current regime, no petitioning of our rulers will have any effect. Cutting back will have little effect, the things one used to buy once in a lifetime break within days/weeks of actual use. Rakes, shovels, sledges and picks whose premium prices should ensure longevity do not last, the price reflects margin and access to market, not quality. My tools, that I kept from the 70’s are still in good shape, asking me not to buy so much stuff is relatively easy, but it is asking the wrong party.

  12. John Puma

    To S Brennan:

    Do you have a figure for the total CO2 cost for employing the LFTR infrastructure, normalized over its expected lifetime?

    Let’s stipulate that the CO2 emission from a functioning reactor is much lower than that for a coal-burning plant.
    BUT CO2 (generated by any process) persists in the environment for centuries.

    Therefore the total CO2 budget must include that emitted in the building of the physical plant – right down to the fuel burned by the work crew getting to the job site and that emitted in mining, transporting, processing fuel and all else needed to keep the plant functional throughout its lifetime. (If mining, in general, is included in your scenario, then I suggest dwindling fossil fuel should also be reserved for it as well as for aviation.)

    Everything I’ve been able to find on this question suggests that current nuclear technology, by this standard, is in the middle of any assessment of all common energy generating technologies in regard average annual CO2 generation over the technology’s lifetime.

    And yes, the same reasoning applies to photovoltaics, wind, Cree LEDs etc.

    Does your reference to “a near endless supply of spent rods to reprocess” imply that such rods contain an appreciable amount of thorium, assuming the “T” of LFTR means thorium. (If it doesn’t mean thorium, you should tell us what LFTR means.)

    I don’t think the problem is asking someone of your knowledge and reflection to consider reduced consumption. Rather the problem is asking the same of the great numbers who have relatively little, individually. It is the cumulative effect of their/our consumption that is killing the only life-support system we have.

  13. S Brennan


    CO2 emission from a functioning LFTR reactor is 0.0, construction will have an effect, but theses plants will be a fraction of the size of a conventional light water. To reduce the footprint further, we could use the Russian concept of shipborne plants that do not require customization for individual sites…ie, one size fits all

    I mention the existing spent rods because they can be consumed in a LFTR thus killing “two birds with one stone”. We could actually start cleaning up our mess…not just bury it for some later generation to deal with.

    Additionally, LFTR, because it is high heat, low pressure could easily be employed for desalination of sea-water during non-peak periods…and freshwater is a major issue just in front of us. Solar/wind have only the tiniest BTU capacity of a LFTR.

    The answers are out there, no great sacrifice is needed, we need to be clear with our leaders. We may indeed go down, but the only reason we will, is because of our current leaders sociopathic evil.

  14. How did this turn into an energy discussion?

  15. BH: It’s the Godwin’s Law for all blog comments sections of this overall audience and genre. As the number of comments rises, the likelihood that it will become an energy discussion approaches unity.

  16. S Brennan

    Up thread see: “These endless wars are the result of the US “elite” power structure’s refusal to consider the needs of any other industry before Oil.”

    But now, it will either turn into a thread about comments, which will have no relevancy…or perhaps your comment will end further discussion. Either way, you are, what you are complaining about.

  17. subgenius

    Always the thorium solution…has anybody ever seen one that works? Viably? In a commercial setting?


    Then it is VAPORWARE….

  18. S Brennan

    “In a commercial setting?”

    That’s stupid rhetorical question…no product ever has been “In a commercial setting” before it was introduced. Luddite winning material.

    LFTR has been done read the link, the single issue of the time was corrosion, since then, alloys have been produced that handle the reactant liquid.

  19. I am not afraid of being accused of Luddite sensibilities, since the slow collapse we are experiencing as a direct result of our industrialization can be seen as a vindication of those 19th Century malcontents.

    Perhaps “commercial setting” was a poor choice of words, but subgenius has a point. If it can be done, it will be (I don’t buy the nonsense about The Oil Companies killing new technologies,) and LFTR has been around long enough, without the level of success necessary, to encourage doubts about its ultimate viability.

    There are challenges, and they’ve been known of, and unresolved, for many years.

  20. S Brennan

    “I don’t buy the nonsense about The Oil Companies killing new technologies”

    Really? Then you also don’t believe companies like Enron engaged in illegal pricing practices either…because that’s like…tin foil huh? That would put you in tiny minority of Americans, even the US Government is conspiracy nut huh? Because the US Government found market manipulation to be the case, look up FERC. My 5 second Google search yielded this:

    Predatory pricing has been around for a while, you might want to read up on it, it is the basis for many a monopoly and many a fortune, if you don’t believe in markets and their manipulation you are pretty far around the bend. Look how effectively the Chines government took over the Solar cell industry. The industry is now going through a great consolidation, look for prices to rise as excessive inventory is depleted. Both German and US companies were destroyed by the Chinese Governments policy of direct subsidy…and currency manipulation…oh that’s right you “don’t buy the nonsense about [x] killing new technologies”.

    If you take the time to read the Wikipedia article that you cite, all the problems listed have solutions like:

    [Problem] We haven’t done it in 40 years!

    [Solution] START

    [Problem] It needs fissile material to start the reaction!

    [Solution] Use up spent fuel rods, rather than burying them in the ground, two birds one stone.

    and on and on….

    Currently, with coal burning plants, we are putting radioactivity [thorium/uranium & heavy metals [mercury] into the environment at a far greater yearly rate that through any other process …and yet anti-nuclear types shout down…and/or wish for ponies with so much vigor that alternates that can deal with peak demand and industrial needs cannot be discussed in a rational manner. Frankly, I know people in the oil business and they tell me that anti-nukes are big oil/coal’s best friends, they’d fund them if they could.

    I do not understand how people [and not just Americans BTW], lose their collective brains when talking about Thorium based reactors…but you did say, you embraced Luddite* sensibility, so you really can’t have an intellectually honest discussion about technology now can you?

    Again, we don’t need to have wars to steal resources. We need to “collectively” employ scientists, engineers, machinists and other industrial artists to use scientific principles to solve problems and create wealth. We all still riding on our antecedents efforts, we need to put our shoulder to the wheel, or their will be a great societal collapse that will kill innocents and spare the cruel. Time is short, we must start our march back from the brink within a decade.

    *it’s modern definition.

  21. S Brennan, the majority of your rant is preaching to the choir. I agree with all of your points, with the simple modification that I think that LTFR (or any techno-solution that has obvious unsustainable complexity issues) falls into the category of “wishing for ponies.”

    I’m not for any of those power generating technologies you rightly disparage (i.e., coal), I just think that there’s no avoiding the downsizing. You can clap as hard as you like, however.

  22. subgenius

    read the link? the wiki one?



  23. S Brennan

    “read the link? the wiki one? NOBODY HAS MADE A COMMERCIALLY VIABLE THORIUM REACTOR… prick”

    And nobody made a commercially viable [car, boat, plane, computer, phone…dear Lord, anything], until they made it. You make a circular argument, it’s laughable that your consider “that” an argument.

    What you were too lazy to read in that article, and what that note refers to, is…the fact that there was no steam generation unit attached to the reactor. Steam generation and condenser technology is 170 years old [130 years old at the time]. They thought it was waste of money to do that portion of the design…and they were right. Of course, they didn’t know that people in 2013 would be so clueless as to not understand that duplicating old technology on a demonstration unit is pointless, nor did they understand that people today would prance around, publicly displaying their ignorance of “how things work” for all to see.

    FYI, I’m working an engineering contract, I am surrounded by engineers…we all had a laugh at your professed ignorance.

  24. subgenius

    sorry strike the last comment i am beset by woes and not in a healthy place. apologies.

  25. Formerly T-Bear

    I see ULTRACREPIDARIANISM is alive and well here.

    I suppose it is better than noting SNOLLYGOSTERISM going on in D.C. but not as fun as SNUDGEING about pretending to SPRUNT.

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