Saturday, December 12, 2009

Somalia: No Man's Land

“In a learning organization, leaders are designers, stewards, and teachers. They are responsible for building organizations where people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models-that is, they are responsible for learning”-Peter Senge, Fifth Discipline, 340.

Basic economics teaches us that when people associate no cost to something, they will abuse it. Whereas, rational people think at the margin, irrational people tend to think otherwise. Somalia has been a stable nation since 1960 until it descended into chaos when the military junta that came to power in 1969 was toppled in 1991 by a ragtag militia headed by General Aidid. Somalia lacks effective leaders who would put national interests above anything else. A leader is the one who understands all the underlying forces at play; he or she has the courage to initiate action to make things better; a leader sees what needs to be done; leaders have strategic thinking and have a sense of belonging.

Effective leaders resort to reconciliations and negotiations when there is a conflict in their midst. Leaders have the power to get others to do what they want them to do. In formulaic fashion, leadership entails planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling (POMC). Leadership is about influencing people through legitimate authority, coercion, reward, expertise, and personal reference. Naturally, in effective leadership, leader-follower relationships are reciprocal and voluntary. All humans have a set of values, assumptions, beliefs, and expectations (VABEs) about the way the world is or should be. These VABEs are either semiconscious or partially conscious collections of what we have come to think of as the way the world is or ought to be.

Now, let’s turn back to the issue of Somalia being no man’s land. After the fall of the military government in 1991, the men who engineered the coup d’état resorted to the elimination of some select tribes and their sympathizers. Perhaps, they intended to weaken their enemies or totally erase their footprints from Somalia. This did not materialize. Because what goes around comes around, the hunter became the hunted. The humanitarian disaster that afflicted the entire nation forced the United Nations and western powers to act with speed. The best the coup plotters would have done was to pacify the country and convene an all-inclusive reconciliation conference that would save the nation from further destruction. Because Aidid led an undisciplined militia that killed by impulse anyone perceived to be an enemy, trust and confidentiality got out of hand. Somali in-fighting opened a can of worms by allowing wild and undocumented fanatics pour into Somali borders like hungry vultures fighting over carrion. This led to the creation of factions driven by greed, theocratic ideals, and vengeance.

When the entire structures of a nation collapses, when the hale and healthy leave the country creating massive brain-drain, when the civilian population vacates residential buildings for fear of reprisals, there ought to be a psychological warfare in the making. Men who were wanted in the west found the chance to manipulate and make drastic gains from Somalia’s civil disorder. In order to expand their militaristic activities, foreign fanatics established bases in Somalia with help from local lunatics who were devoid of any form of leadership traits except war.

Stabilizing Somalia requires international involvement to root out those who are behind the chaos. In leadership theories, “buy-off” can be used as a deterrent to antagonism. Buying off all tribal leaders and creating a tough spy force from all Somali tribes and clans that will serve as the “eyes and ears” of the newly-created government could be used as detriment to overcome dissent until such a time when the nation can stand on its feet unaided. The use of spies who serve as “eyes and ears” of a nation’s sovereignty has been in existence since classical times.

Anyone who is found guilty of violating the constitution will have to be dealt with severely. All those scalawags who wrecked havoc, those who took part in any form of genocide or human rights abuses will have to be dealt with severely without remorse. The most important job of any president is the security of the state. Somalia will need to establish a strong and well-equipped force that will serve as deterrence to any form of opposition. "The proper use of the imagination is to give beauty to the world…to cast over the commonplace workaday world a veil of beauty and make it throb with our aesthetic enjoyment”.-Lin Yutang

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