Col. Thomas Snodgrass's insightful essay concerning the needlessly protract conflicts in Vietnam and Iraq reminded me that news of Ethiopia's lighting victory over the short-lived Islamic Courts Union in Somalia has nearly vanished from the mainstream media. I suspect there are two reasons for this. First, western news analysts do not know how to interpret this successful campaign -- sponsored surreptitiously by the US -- since it does not fit the conventional myths about wars in the late 20th and 21st centuries. And second, the western media does not want its audience to draw independent conclusions about this war, not least because the western press played no role in shaping events. Correctly perceiving the profound danger inherent in the emergence of a Taliban-style terror regime on its border, the Ethiopian government acted quickly without pausing to request UN Resolutions or to recruit a coalition. Nor did they "telegraph" their moves as we have with endless debate about the upcoming "troop surge" in Iraq. Instead, the Ethiopian military moved with speed, determination, forcefulness and unleashed unrestrained violence upon their enemies. Somehow I doubt the Ethiopians paused to constrain themselves with "rules of engagement". In partnership with the remnants of the UN sanctioned Somali government, and ignoring baneful warnings of "quagmire", the majority-Christian Ethiopians routed the enemy, systematically and persistently driving the Jihadis (including many foreign terrorists) from the country. The vaunted Islamic "warriors" repeatedly ran from the fight when confronted with force. This war has ended so quickly that the Ethiopian Army is already beginning to withdraw, having left insufficient time for western media outlets to complain about "disproportionate responses".
Although the long-term stability of the new Somali government is still in question, it seems that the violence has subsided. In my view, the rapid victory -- bought perhaps with the blood of innocents killed in the cross-fire -- is still much more merciful to the Somali population than a protracted, limited war of the type unfolding in Iraq which results in hundreds of civilian deaths weekly. In other words, short, vicious, ruthless wars are perhaps better for achieving peace in a failed state than protracted, constricted war conducted with legally-scrutinized half-measures. It's the difference between radical but successful surgery and death by a thousand cuts.