Moderator: A couple of follow-up questions on your last point there. Is it realistic do you think for the United States to step back from Somalia knowing that it’s currently, a big battle for control is going on there right now and you have this proven extremist group which only very recently a couple of months back announced that it had formerly linked up with Al-Qaeda, can the United States realistically step back and say, “Well, if the other group eventually takes control, then so be it?” Is that a viable do you think?

Bronwyn: Yeah. I would say that in my sense of it, is that the war on terror is kind of a two-headed monster and in the one hand you have a head that’s really focused on fighting the war on terror. Its covered operations, its kinetic counter-terror activities where people are thinking in a country and killing the bad guys. And I think that the war and terror performance perspective it’s a very, very feasible and rational to disengage and let all of the internal fishers in the Shabaab play themselves out. A majority of experts on Somalia and a lot of officials speaking off the record will tell you that they really believe that that is the case. That if the Shabaab were left to itself, it would collapse because it as a movement is so riddled with internal conflicts that it just cannot sustain itself. Now that said, the other head of the war on terror is the performance of the war, the press, the reputation of politicians and the need for Obama, in particular, to be seen to be fighting Al-Qaeda. And from that perspective, it would really be difficult for the US to just throw up his hands and say the smartest thing to do is walk away, because the average American reading a newspaper article about this horrible group, the Shabaab, is going to want to see a line in there somewhere that says the US government is doing acts and the line the US government is doing nothing. It’s not very satisfying. So the political reality is that it is really tough for policy makers to do what they pretty much accept is the right thing.

Moderator: Of course, you’re not suggesting, are you? That the US gives up its policy of, you know, surgical strikes against Al-Qaeda suspects within Somalia. That would continue in respective of the diplomatic policy towards Somalia, right?

Bronwyn: Yeah. And I have to say I’m a recent convert to that view because during the Bush administration there were a number of air strikes against terror targets in Somalia and they wiped out dozens of civilians. And when you have that approach whether it’s an Afghanistan or Iraq or in Somalia, when your counter-terror activities are killing innocent bystanders obviously, the effect is not to reduce radicalization. The effect is maybe to kill one bad guy and to create 20 more and that was clearly happening in the Somali context. Under the Obama administration, recently they had an airstrike against a high profile target and they managed to kill him without killing any innocent civilians in the process, and when they did that surprisingly the reaction from the Somalis was pretty much, ‘Oh, it didn’t really bother anybody at all,’ which on the one hand is a demonstration that these guys are not rooted in the community and if they can be wiped out without the Somalis being too concerned about it, as long as we don’t kill any Somalis in the process.

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