Yesterday I went to London and heard some good news. More good news, as Phil pointed out, if you add it to the good news of the American mid-term election victory for (relative) common sense.
Peace is breaking out all over Somalia. After 16 years of gun law - or warlordism, or anarcho-capitalism, call it what you will - the gunmen are laying down their arms.
Why? Because the Islamic Courts have been laying down the law. Sharia law. "It says here that if you kill, you will be killed". "Oops, OK, if that's what it says, I am not holding that AK-47. It's not mine. I don't know how it got there".
I learned this direct from two good Somali friends. Their expressions conveyed hope as they told me, instead of the usual resignation.
They were careful to stress that Somalia is not Afghanistan, that the Islamic Courts are not the Taliban, and that Sharia law is flexible, reactive to circumstances. Somalis are quite capable of identifying foreigners, and have no wish to entertain or hide Al-Qua'eda. They have had enough of violence.
Yes, Sharia law does cut off the hands of inveterate thieves (though not of a starving man who takes food). This may be a bit harsh for our tender liberal sensibilities, but in the Somalian circumstances, Sharia Law is definitely preferable to anarcho-capitalism, warlordism or gun law, call it what you will. The people have chosen to support the Islamic Courts.
Now, in democracy, the will of the people is sovereign. If it is the will of the people that the Islamic Courts should bring peace, who can argue?
If these are the facts of the case, (and the UK media have not been reporting it, so it must be true) it is to be expected of Western democrats (and therefore Western democracies, including the UK and the EU, though not the USA - it is too much to expect Bush to behave sensibly) to welcome and support the peace that is emerging the through the Islamic Courts. Diplomacy should encourage the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia to come to terms with the Courts. The UN, if invited, should lend naval help to clear up the pirates. The UN should persuade Ethiopia and other front line states to stay out of Somalia. NGOs should start getting aid in. And individuals reading this blog should start lending moral support to the Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD) on Somalia, as they work with the traditional leaders and intellectuals to make peace and help villages to access water and education, which are priorities #1 and #2 for Somalis.
That's why I was in London, to help set up a Trust fund to support the CPD.
So - here's to peace in Somalia, and a radical re-appraisal of the Islamic Courts on the part of western democrats and intellectuals everywhere.