Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Laura Van Ingen
Nathan Tye, Torsten Homberger
Black Hawk Down;Clinton;Foreign Policy;Genocide;Mogadishu;Somalia
The October 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, commonly referred to as “Black Hawk Down,” transformed American foreign policy in its wake. One of the largest special operations missions in recent history, the failures in Somalia left not only the United States government and military in shock, but also the American people. After the nation’s most elite fighting forces suffered a nearly 50 percent casualty rate at the hands of Somali warlords during what many Americans thought was a humanitarian operation, Congress and the American people erupted in anger. Although the United States has continued to be seen as an overbearing global peacekeeping force in the thirty years since Somalia, the Battle of Mogadishu served as the turning point for a generational foreign policy shift that significantly limited future global intervention because of the overt publicization of battle’s aftermath in the media, domestic and international reactions, and a fear of repeating the same mistakes elsewhere. The first major American loss of life after the Cold War, the battle and the reaction that followed, known as the “Mogadishu effect,” forced President Clinton to rethink the United States’ role internationally. Clinton and his administration struggled to convince the American people that involvement overseas, especially global peacekeeping, was vital to international order after becoming the world’s sole superpower. Congressional hearings, presidential correspondence, government documents, poll results, and numerous media releases across Clinton’s presidency mark the distinct shift in American foreign policy that took place after Mogadishu. Although he inherited involvement in the United Nations mission in Somalia from George H.W. Bush, the failures in Somalia transformed Clinton’s humanitarian involvement in Haiti, Bosnia, and Rwanda, tarnishing the remainder of his presidency and shifting expectations of significant American involvement in international peacekeeping after the Cold War.
Dotson, Philip Benjamin, "The Mogadishu Effect: America's Failure-Driven Foreign Policy" (2023). History Theses, Dissertations, and Student Creative Activity. 25.