Today's Blogs

The Fall of Mogadishu

Bloggers mull Ethiopia’s push into Mogadishu, Israel’s new settlement on the West Bank, and the balmy future of polar bears.

The fall of Mogadishu: Ethiopian-backed troops seized the city of Mogadishu after Islamist forces appeared to vanish from the capital. Somalia’s transitional government and Ethiopia have received tacit American support for the invasion because of the Islamic Courts’ alleged connection to al-Qaida.

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters considers the intervention an example of effective strategy: “This loss crushes the reputation of the Islamists as dedicated to fighting to the death. They will if they see an advantage in it, and that advantage has been gained by Western reluctance to fight an all-out war against them. … Somewhere there is a lesson for the West.”

Jan Haugland at Salon’s Secular Blasphemy figures Ethiopia has “made its point”: “[I]t can leave Somalia to its own chaos, where the government, made up of former warlords, is unlikely to assert itself, not to mention keep itself from splintering into its original fractions.

At Blogs of War, conservative John Little argues that the “victory of sorts” in Mogadishu can’t last long: “Many of the combatants … just switched sides like they have countless times before. And they’ll switch again too. Don’t think for a minute that we’ve heard the last of this movement in Somalia.” But conservative James S. Robbins at National Review’s The Corner doesn’t see this as a protracted conflict: “[Ethiopia] will pull out their main forces once they have achieved their objective of driving back the Islamic Courts militias and re-establishing the government.”

Liberal Spencer Ackerman at Too Hot For TNR phoned federal agencies to find out which terrorists exactly the Islamists are harboring: “The administration believes three terrorists are in Somalia, with unclear or unstated connections to the ICU. Then there’s the issue of [jidhadist leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys], whom the U.S. isn’t officially making an issue, for unclear reasons. Decide for yourself if this is a good reason to instigate a regional war.”

Bryan at conservative video blog Hot Air compares Ethiopia’s war against Islamists to that of Israel in Gaza and the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan: “What we and the Israelis seem to lack right now, and which the Ethiopians apparently have, is the political will to win without worrying overmuch what the so-called internation[al] community thinks.”

Read more about the Ethiopian invasion.

An unsettling plan: The Israeli Defense Ministry announced it would begin construction on a settlement in the West Bank for the first time in 10 years. The United States condemned the plan, claiming it would violate the U.S.-brokered “road map” to peace, but Israeli officials claim the new construction merely revives a settlement built in 1982 that has since been used as a military training site.

At The Spine, New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz argues that it’s not the previously established settlement or the current military base that justifies new construction: “What justifies it is that there needs to be a sliver of land between what will ultimately be a Palestinian state and Jordan. This is needed for the security of Israel and the security of Jordan. … Realists grasp what would occur if Israel doesn’t protect Jordan’s border. Palestinians from what is now the West Bank would subvert, with their kin in the kingdom, Jordan itself.”

Liberal blog jobsanger considers the move a deliberate act of aggression: “I have to wonder if Israel really wants peace with the Palestinian people. Israel tries to present itself as the innocent party in the Mideast conflict, even as it is making plans to violate international law.”

Pro-Israel blog Smooth Stone makes the case that “settlements are not a violation of international law,” citing Jordan and Egypt’s previous occupations of the West Bank and Gaza and delving into the terminology of “disputed” vs. “occupied” territories.

Read more about the new Israeli settlements.

Bye polar?: The Bush administration’s Interior Department today proposed putting polar bears on the endangered species list as rising temperatures cause Artic ice to melt. Bloggers wonder whether this amounts to an admission of global warming.

Craig Mackintosh, blogging for the environmental online community Celsias, urges readers not to get too excited: “[A]ll the Bush Administration has done is accept the ‘proposal’ to designate the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The administration now has an entire year to study the proposal—and could potentially yet deny the bear his rightful place on the list.”

Ken Shreiner at Shreiner’s Media Landscape suspects that “looks here might be deceiving,” given Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne’s history on the environment: “Kempthorne still says oil and gas exploration in Alaska should not stop. In the same statement, Kempthorne says: ’(W)e are concerned the polar bear’s habitat may literally be melting,’ followed by, ‘It’s very clear that the oil and gas activity in that area does not pose a threat to the polar bears.’ Huh? Dirk the Jerk apparently doesn’t understand what CAUSES global warming.”

At Obsidian Wings, ethics professor “hilzoy” collects details of polar bears’ decline and urges Bush to act fast: [W]hile we can try to take steps as individuals, there are steps (like constructing a well-designed system of carbon caps and credits) that require government action. It is, to my mind, appalling that we have wasted so much of what little time remains to us to deal with this problem.”

Read more about polar bears.