Somali good enough


Very keen to read Andrew Harding’s new book on Somalia, The Mayor of Mogadishu. There’s a fine review in The New York Times which finishes with some lines about the moral complexity of dealing with Somalia (much like other failed states)…

As Harding’s fine book makes clear, morally compromised figures like Nur may be the best one can hope for in a country desperately short of heroes.

Is this the best one can hope for? Isn’t this is the same philosophy that delivered Mogadishu to the warlords, with suitcases of dollars and the sense that this was the least worst option?

I go backwards and forwards on this. I don’t know what the answer is. There’s a danger that this is patronising nonsense, bordering on racism. Or maybe it is healthy realism – “Somali good enough”, to adapt the saying from Afghanistan – when the alternative is paralysing naivety.

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