Massive international efforts beginning in 1992 to ameliorate the devastating effects of the Somali civil war and to reconstitute a functioning government in that country brought some notable achievements but they were overshadowed by
grievous failures. This paper in section I provides background information on the Somali conflict that precipitated the international intervention. In section II, it delineates the special problems for military intervention in the current era in civil wars like Somalia's. In sections III-V, it develops three points, listed here, that have implications for future international interventions in civil wars.
* Early decisive diplomatic attention to the Somali crisis, backed by fiscal and military threats, probably could have nipped the civil war in its bud, averting the catastrophe that followed.
* The goals of the humanitarian relief mission, while impressively fulfilled, undermined the chances for a political settlement, and therefore set the stage for an ignominious exit by the international gendarmerie.
* The strategic situation in the United Nations Security Council, between the leading permanent missions (the P-5) and the Secretary General (SG) creates a bias towards ambitious goals combined with paltry resources. The UN's Somali operations reflected that unfortunate bias.
In section VI, an evaluation of the international effort in Somalia is offered