#KenyaAtWar: “Have We Already Lost?”

On my way to work this morning, I glanced at the paper and two stories caught my attention. One was about Paul Muite suing someone on Facebook, which I thought was hilarious. I don’t remember the details, but Muite was demanding an apology from someone who claimed he coached ICC witnesses. According to the story, if the apology doesn’t come in 7 days, things will go to court. I found the whole thing hilarious and wondered why I hadn’t seen it on Twitter. Apparently, the story did break online. Last week.

The second story that moved me was the one about the war. Yes, in case you haven’t heard, we’re allegedly at war with Somalia.

I didn’t want to write this piece, because it’s a weighty issue, and I don’t like approaching weighty issues with a lack of knowledge. I don’t have all the statistics about the number of troops, the reason behind the war, the ideology at work and all that. But as I trawled my timeline, I felt everyone was missing the point.

This isn’t about whether or not we’re at war – that’s sheer semantics, and semantics never got anyone anywhere unless they were looking for a PhD in English. It’s not about copyright raids in Eastleigh, or rising rent in South B, or even about misappropriated budgets. It’s about Kenyans. Sons and daughters who got into the military for all the wrong reasons.

I know people who joined the Armed Forces because they couldn’t get a job. They spent six years in Russia Ukraine getting aviation degrees, and when they came back home, the only place where they could work with planes was in the airforce. I know people who signed up for boot camp because they simply love to run, and the best way to get to Daigu was on the MP team. I know people who learned to fire a gun because their fathers and their fathers’ fathers did.

All these people got into the army with one basic assumption based on fact – in our entire 48 year history, Kenya has never been at war. Sure, we sent some troops to Bosnia for peacekeeping tasks, but other than that, no war. Their main job would be keeping fit and showing off on 20th October.

Now suddenly, our boys and girls are in the zone. Well, the boys are anyway. Last I heard, they don’t send girls to war, no matter how badass their gunning skills are.

My first thought was – are they ready? Are they mentally prepared for combat? Do they have any idea what they’re getting themselves into? I suppose they’re trained, and I bet they’ve simulated their asses off. But are our boys in green prepared to face live mortars, especially from potential extremists with nothing to lose? I read in a book once – I think it was Tom Clancy – that you can’t fight someone who’s willing to die. In such a fight, you’ve already lost. And this is the exact situation we’re sending our boys into.

My next thought was that these are people’s sons and daughters. We’re all so pre-occupied with the logic of the thing, whether we have funds for war, whether it’s politically expedient, whether we can really beat the Alshabab. I haven’t heard one person think about the human lives that we’re putting at risk. I suppose you could say they knew what they were doing when they signed up. After all, it’s what they’re paid to do. But I’d like to see a little more feeling going towards the human lives we’re tossing away so carelessly.

I’m not underestimating the importance of national security. I’m not saying a lot of thought didn’t go into this. I’m not saying we don’t need to protect our borders, or the tourists that reside within them or the potential for foreign exchange I’m not saying this is or isn’t a war, or that it is or isn’t a good thing. I’m saying instead of sitting here and bitching about statistics, we should think about the lives involved. So far, five have been lost that we know of. No, it wasn’t enemy fire. But those are five souls that would still be breathing if we hadn’t gotten into this thing.

So argue all you want. Be an analyst. Be a pundit. Name names, call whoever you want to call. But for fuck’s sake, give a thought and a prayer to the soldiers involved. They’re not statistics. They’re human lives. Wives, daughters, husbands, fathers, sons. So take a moment to think before you tweet, and say a prayer or two for our boys. They need them.

21 thoughts on “#KenyaAtWar: “Have We Already Lost?”

    • Well….human lives are valuable, and I’m not sure how smart it was to engage with people who are willing to die. But then again, I’m pretty sure that when people join the army they kind of commit themselves to this kind of thing, in between the running, fixing planes and drinking duty free booze…

  1. I hope that this going to war was well planned to a T. Because War like revolutions….tend to get a life of their own. The minute it starts, no one knows what the end result will be.
    My opinion is that this started with the Migingo issue. Had Kibaki as CinC acted back then with finality, I am sure the shenanigans we are seeing on the S-Sudan,Ethiopia and now Somalia border would not have happened….maybe,..! I was thinking that dealing with Somalia is a very crucial issue and should have been very easy…!
    Get the banks CEOs around and order them to halt all transactions to and from Somalia……it can work….since war is an indication of a failure of diplomacy! How this one pans out is no one’s guess……but I also know that casualties will be there………..

    Say a prayer for the soldiers.

    Where the hell is the CinC in all this…we need assurance from the top-most military man….infact he should speak to the nation while dressed in military fatigues!

    • And we can read this while at it…… http://bit.ly/p8tsZV

      “…If only he had the luxury of a jihadist mindset. Weaned on the jihad since they were toddlers, the fearless young jihadists are prepared for a martyr’s death that will assure them a place in paradise….They were empowered by the prospect of martyrdom. Famines, flash floods, malaria, the bones that were set wrong or not set at all, the hole rotted through the jawbone, the infections, the gamut of psychiatric disorders, all of this assured them that their fate was in every way and in every place an uncertain one, a medieval one……They would not be missed, and no matter that they lacked common sense, information and adequate equipment, fatalism gave them a durability the (Western) paratrooper lacked………..”

      That is what we are fighting against.

  2. People, people, enough with the rhetoric and stats. All the nice lady is saying is that we should pray for our troops – whether this war is justified or not, or whether we have the capacity to do what the the most experienced war-monger (the USA) has failed to do.

    At the end of the day, those are our Kenyan troops fighting out there. Same way we feel some allegiance when our Kenyan athletes are out there running their feet to blisters. Just pray.., that’s all. Then you can read the paper, keep score and argue all you want. But pray.

  3. Well in.
    …’But for fuck’s sake, give a thought
    and a prayer to the soldiers involved.’…
    Maybe not for fuck’s sake, but definitly for life’s sake, i’ll say a prayer for our troops:)

  4. This is probably the sloppiest article I ever read on DR.. I’m not a writer but I read on ‘How to write for dummies’ that you should never write about something you have no idea of unless it’s propaganda.. That is the feeling on this article. Assumptions galore..
    Anyway since I’m not sure about the stuff that was discussed at DoD and within the confines of Harambee House or State House, I’ll call whatever y’all are calling war a rescue mission. Damn it there is a Kenyan being held hostage together with 2 other foreigners who were captured on our Land.. You are president of the republic of Kenya, Somalia is country with no governance structures, how would you handle the situation? Just chill go to he golf course and play your regular shit and say ” f*ck em terrorists we’ve never been to War, our Military unit is a bunch of novices who are good for nothing just keeping fit. They can do whatever they want with the hostages”
    Think about the economy, your security, respect the service men and women then delete this stupid post. Please!!
    Yours,
    Disappointed Kenyan.
    Peace!!

    • You’re the type of guy to read an opinion piece and the complain that you can’t cite it for academic reasons.

      1. We’re not taking down the post.
      2. Nobody said nothing should be done, just that proposing a full frontal attack on a country with nothing to lose without proper strategy is planning to fail.
      3. ” f*ck em terrorists we’ve never been to War, our Military unit is a bunch of novices who are good for nothing just keeping fit. They can do whatever they want with the hostages” We said that? Really knox? And we’re the ones making ‘Assumptions galore.’ She related from personal knowledge of friends she has in the service that they really do not have any experience in warfare. And they don’t. Since you feel like statistics, less than half of the servicemen we send to aid in other wars come back. And we’re not even on the frontline. Take an army like say the US that has a return rate of well over 95% and qualify that on your own. Our army has a purpose, but I don’t think this is it. I can understand setting up a defensive line, or restrictions on who crosses our borders but we aren’t even doing that, we’re jumping straight into flying helicopters and planes of troops there. Really? Attack first, defend later?
      4. “I’ll call whatever y’all are calling war a rescue mission.” Is this really a rescue mission? The government itself has declared ‘War’, and you still think we’re wrong for calling it a war because you want to call it a rescue mission? Fuck outta here with that arrogant bullshit, man. Have you read the briefs? Have you listened to what the commander in chief has been saying? Or the internal security minister? Did he say, ‘We’re going to get our nationals and those taken from our land back’ or did he say ‘we are now going to pursue the enemy, who are the Al Shabaab, to wherever they will be, even in their country’? It’s a war. Not a rescue mission.
      5. I’m the first to say we aren’t being protected enough and that’s mostly because our internal security minister is more preoccupied with his presidential bid than our security. Calling a spade a spade, those borders havent been closed up because there’s entirely too much money coming from across the border. Relief funds get stolen, pirate money gets laundered, security risks are blatantly ignored….nothing has been being done. This reeks of a show for the sake of a show.
      6. You want numbers, here you go. 1 Kenyan that we know of is kidnapped, about 10 foreign nationals. We’ve already lost close to a dozen lives. We have a grand total of 63,000 army personnel – less than 12,000 of whom are actually going to fight. Al-Shabaab alone (not counting any other force in Somalia) has about 20,000 armed combatants in Somalia. They have hundreds on this side. Hundreds in our waters. And there are over 450,000 Somalis in Kenyan refugee camps alone. Close to 3 times that number in the whole of Kenya already. We have barely a few hundred troops there. They have more people, more guns, more training, more experience, and we’re in control? How?
      7. “Think about the economy, your security, respect the service men and women then delete this stupid post. Please!!” No. This is done with due respect to them. No one disrespected them, all we said is to put their lives into consideration. As any government does. Ours doesn’t. And won’t. Apply those same standards you give to us, to yourself and to the government; if they or you thought about the economy – which is is in dire straits – is raging a war the wisest thing to do? It demolished the US economy which was strong to begin with, what will it do to ours? If they were thinking about security – which, again, they’ve already been failing at – is attacking an enemy with international terrorist alliances really the best way to keep us safe? These guys have promised death if we continue, and this is with whom we want to weigh our fates? And if you respect your service people, talk to them before you talk for them. I did and I know a good number that said they would do what they had to for the country but they know for a fact that this isn’t it. To quote my boy ‘You can’t be more prepared than a country that’s been in war since inception.’

      Yes, they sign up to defend us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about them and drop tools and pick up guns immediately. Fuck ‘How to write for dummies’, every war strategy doctrine will tell you strategy comes before war every time. You do not fight a losing war. And honestly, with your knowledge of our army and resources and those of the Al-Shabaab and everyone behind them, are we REALLY in such a clear advantage that we can defeat them let alone push them from our borders? Should we really be outwardly declaring war?

      If you think it’s the right thing to do, hold yourself to your own standards and drop facts. I just did.

      Don’t go around calling people way more educated than you or I stupid and disrespectful for having an opinion before doing so. Her opinion is way more educated than your entire criticism. And if you don’t like what’s being said here, the exit is a mouse click away.

      Probably your most disappointing comment here yet.

  5. Oh word!!
    I’ll take it from the Nation link you’ve posted. ” Two Spanish aid workers were seized Thursday by gunmen and are believed to have been taken across the border into war-torn Somalia, the third incident of foreigners being abducted in Kenya in just over a month” then “If you are attacked by an enemy, you are allowed to pursue that enemy until where you get him,” said Kenyan Defence Minister Yusuf Mohammed Haji, speaking alongside Saitoti. “We will force them far away from our border.” “”If you are attacked by an enemy, you are allowed to pursue that enemy until where you get him,” said Kenyan Defence Minister Yusuf Mohammed Haji, speaking alongside Saitoti. “We will force them far away from our border.”
    I’m not one of the smartest dudes walking on the face of this planet but i’m definitely not a dummy. So what kind of attack is Yusuf Hajji and Saitoti talking about here? You can take the cue from the kidnapping statement. Then tell me what nature of war this is.
    I understand being corrected is not the most welcomed aspect of critique writing but someone have to do it. One day on this blog we are suspecting the media of foul play and cheap propaganda, the next day on the same blog they are speaking biblical truth.. Oh word!!.. Magnificent contradiction.
    “All these people got into the army with one basic assumption based on fact – in our entire 48 year history, Kenya has never been at war. Sure, we sent some troops to Bosnia for peacekeeping tasks, but other than that, no war. Their main job would be keeping fit and showing off on 20th October” – Yeah if you had a family member in the Army, yourself would know how stupid, disrespectful and lame assumption this statement is. You don’t have to wear the god-complex mask to defend such an ignorant utterance and shift the guilt of ‘ignorant arrogance’ on my side for discrediting such a lame school of thought.
    “My first thought was – are they ready? Are they mentally prepared for combat? Do they have any idea what they’re getting themselves into? I suppose they’re trained, and I bet they’ve simulated their asses off. But are our boys in green prepared to face live mortars, especially from potential extremists with nothing to lose?” – Terrorism is complex matter, Terrorism is an ideology (well according to terrorism experts), even the American army that you’ve mentioned in your comment are no where near defeating terrorism militarily.
    The Washington Administration know about the failure and is riding heavy on globalization that is sweeping the middle-east so the vulnerable Arab youth can have alternative schools of thought besides the perverted indoctrination deployed by Jihadists through the manipulation of Islam. Are we on that level of taming al-Shaabab? We can’t do it with Mungiki, tell me if it can be achieved beyond our borders . So does that mean we can’t protect ourselves simply because America is a failure in fight against terrorism? Maybe. How do you as a civilian behind a laptop/cell-phone get to know if the army you are heavily being taxed to sustain and keep in isolated camps are mentally ready to defend you the expert pessimist? How does participating in a war previously determine your failure or success in your current pursuit? is this some primary school way of reasoning or what? is this the new direction of empirical reasoning? I’m probably conversing with irrational aliens who would rather abuse a fan who criticized in a polite tone a wrong article than think beyond their laptops and cell-phones of the world outside.
    If I remember right, sometimes back, the twitter-verse (You iCon included) was ranting how the Kenyan Military is useless for not fighting Uganda over Migingo and Ugingo islands with less regard/knowledge on who call the shots. The same media you are quoting here even took the Chief of General Staff, Gen. Jeremiah Kianga to task asking just the same lame questions that were being asked on twitter. The same happened when Ethiopians struck in Northern Kenya and killed Kenyans… I’m not sure if then the Military was in the right mental capacity to handle aggressors given that they’ve never been to any war before, it’s either that or you are just protecting the blog’s pride for allowing sloppy stupid article on the blog.. Yeah man, Social Text Journal, one of the biggest academic journals in the world, posted a hoax article cuz it was in correspondence with their format of obscure social and cultural analysis. When the writer, a physicist, Alan Sokal later revealed the article was a prank, Social Text still justified the bullshit on that article because it was too real to be a hoax. I feel the same here. With that type of ‘smart’ response, the credibility of this blog’s civility in relation to public discourses is in jeopardy. It’s too much of you and people that support your thoughts and too less and ‘ignorant arrogance’ of people who think otherwise.. Maybe I am a caveman, I’m not aware of the new paradigm shift of public debates.. Maybe just maybe.
    With that said, I rest my case, It’s a war, f*ck the hostages, our troops are novices who just train to keep fit – Thank you for disrespecting our troops. I’ll call my homies in the army and tell them the feeling on the ground (I mean behind computers and cell-phones) what the new Military experts in town think about them and shits like that.
    Peace!!

    • I’m not faulting the soldiers, or the military effort. I’m worried that while we’re all arguing about the motivation and reasoning behind this exercise, we’re not thinking about the human lives involved, and some of those lives belong to people that I love. It shows no disrespect to voice genuine concern for the ones I love, and every one of those boys and girls in green is a person that someone loves. We need to pray for our troops. That was my point, and I stand by it.

      • We did not start a war – the war was already on! It is not about the tourists or whoever was kidnapped. It is about the bomb threats that we receive on a regular basis.

        It is about the fact that the TFG needs our help to be able to govern Somalia, and frankly it is in our own best interest to ensure that the TFG can gain at least some semblance of control because when the chaos there spills over it spills over into Kenya.

        It is about the fact that at some point we have to make a choice between taking the sitting duck position and taking the offensive.

        I pray for the troops and their safety and victory. But at the same time I firmly believe that a good old fashioned offense is much better than sitting duck. Anytime.

  6. A lot of hot air and rhetoric here,no substance.The only comments /suggestions I would take seriously on these matters would be from people with a military background.Comments on these matters by civilians should be dismissed with the ridicule they deserve.

    My thoughts and prayers go to the Kenya Armed Forces.You are better men and women than we are.

  7. The fight is on going and Alshabab must respect kenya.Kenyans have kept a cold shoulder for so many years no wonder the Kidnappings inside Kenyan Territory!!

  8. I didn’t say you faulted them, I said you disrespected/insulted them. Your point is still flawed. Your concern is genuine just like mine that is why I’ve been wishing the troops the best of luck as they do what they are supposed to do. To protect me and you. I got people over there too, that’s why I’m concerned by whatever is going on. The logic behind your concern is however flawed and standing by it is really not my problem as it doesn’t validate that flawed thinking. Infact it’s more of you being comfortable with mediocre thinking that no one can tell you nothing.. It’s alright, it’s a relative world, you are at liberty to say whatever you want, however you want it. I can’t take that away from you.
    Why are we even talking about this when you clearly stated that you have no idea what’s going on? SMH! Stupid me.
    Have a good day.
    Peace!!

  9. so much for the yappin nd talka-talkin…but;complex/plain as you may want to make it seem,there’s two broad/only sections of the whole spectrum you r towtally overlookin. Some comedian has in the past said that if ur a citizen,u r either civilian or military personnel.Plainly,u cant be on both sides.civilian as you ar,plz keep your civilian mentalities to yourself!!!
    Guys in the millitary dont give a d*ck of if u lose life or not.
    U cant be pittying the fate of military personell if u r to maintain ur civilianess.
    Without them riskin their lives on that-yu civilians ar as unsecure as it could get.
    Plz keep ur pitty to yourself!!!!
    You ar painting ‘pink’ a picture thats better of ‘red’ or green’
    live your life nd hop for victry…bcos othrwise ur as good as POW.nkt.

    • Absolutely. I am just appalled at the title of the article. The writer starts by asking ‘Have we already Lost?’

      Really? I mean, really?

  10. Pingback: #KenyaAtWar: “The Question of Unity” | Diasporadical

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