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belligerents

The Unseen Gulf War shows what it looked like on the ground in 1991.

Meanwhile General Aidid states that he intends to repeat the age-old errors, as he prepares to institute some sort of modern democratic government that will turn, if successful, to other nation-states for endorsement, support, military muscle.

But the nation-state, the twentieth-century geopolitical entity held together by the government's monopoly on the use of force—it's finished. The Kalashnikov rifle and the Stinger missile, and the world-wide dissemination of those weapons during the proxy conflicts of the Cold War, have changed things as much as the invention of gunpowder did in the thirteenth century. A determined Third-World people can now hold out against the greatest powers—witness Vietnam—and even a loose coalition of determined clans or factions can drive away the strongest armies—witness Afghanistan—and now in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia it's been made plain that even factions at war with one another can, with their left hand, as it were, stalemate the U.N. in its efforts to stop the fighting among them.

It begins to waver and dissolve, but still it stands, humanity's mass hallucination: the vision of a planet of united nations, the great delusion that the nation-state doesn't work yet, but someday will—that the governments who killed each year of the twentieth century, on average, a million of the civilians they claimed to protect and serve, can be trusted to cease their wars.

Another general makes ready to join them, all those people who've proven they can't run the world. Still they go on seeking order by making war, because anything's preferable to anarchy—so say the survivors.

—Denis Johnson, "An Anarchist's Guide to Somalia"

 

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up (2003.01)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review