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Nov 9, 2021

This week we bring back a timely episode from season 1 with journalist Amanda Sperber and anthropologist Catherine Besteman, who helped us understand an important, yet underreported topic: America’s military involvement in Somalia. Since we last spoke to Catherine and Amanda, The New York Times has reported that the terrorist organization, Al Shabab, is at its “strongest in years” and that the Biden administration may be debuting a new Somalia policy in the coming weeks. But will the administration, which has prided itself on ending “relentless war,” pursue a policy less reliant on drone strikes than its Republican and Democratic predecessors? 

Though much is still to be seen, airstrikes in July and the Biden administration’s touting of its “over-the-horizon capabilities” to attack a globally “metastasized” terrorist threat doesn’t augur much change. Catherine and Amanda explore the history of Al Shabab and America’s involvement in Somalia and argue that the human costs of current policy lay bare the strategic and moral failings of America’s global war on terror.

Amanda Sperber is a Nairobi-based award-winning investigative journalist, foreign correspondent, and multimedia storyteller. Her work focuses on East Africa, specifically on Somalia, and the consequences of U.S. drone strikes.

Catherine Besteman is Francis F. Bartlett and Ruth K. Bartlett Professor of Anthropology at Colby College in Maine. Her work focuses on U.S. militarism in Somalia. She is the author of The Costs of War in Somalia from Brown University’s Costs of War Project, and Militarized Global Apartheid (2020). 

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