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Debacle in Somalia

Courtesy Reuters

Famine: A Collective International Failure

THE DRAMA of large-scale military intervention and the media's fixation on looters and "warlords" now threaten to obscure the fact that, prior to late 1992, the international response to Somalia's long agony was indeed abject failure. Inadequate and halfhearted multilateral measures contributed significantly to the very circumstances of anarchy, violence and starvation now being addressed-by necessity-by 31,000 U.S. Marines and combined international military forces.

Operation Restore Hope is likely to prevent marauding bandits from stealing relief supplies and to be viewed, in the near term at least, as a successful demonstration of the American commitment to humanitarian principles-at acceptable risk and cost. But worst of all the intervention exposes the acute dangers inherent in the collective failure to restructure international humanitarian assistance policies and multilateral relief and political organizations to meet the realities of the post-Cold War world.

Neither the operational responses of U.N. relief

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