U.S. policy toward Somalia has oscillated between engagement and neglect. A humanitarian crisis drew American troops into the country in 1992. But after the Black Hawk disaster, America pulled out. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks heightened U.S. concern that failed states could spawn terrorism.
So the United States gave support to Somalis who identified themselves as enemies of terrorism — some of whom were disreputable warlords. Eventually, Somalia fell into the hands of the Islamic Courts Union, which promised more law and order.
Now the Islamists have been driven from Mogadishu, but there are concerns that they will turn to terrorism.