When United States troops arrived in Somalia late last year, it was supposed to be a mission of mercy, not a war. The loss of American lives in this troubled country has caused widespread public outcry for the return of all soldiers. CHRISTIANITY TODAY discussed the situation in Somalia, including the prospects for its future, with World Vision President Robert Seiple.

Does the U.S. have a moral responsibility to stay in Somalia?

It’s tragic that the question of national interests is never asked in the context of the value we place on human life and dignity. I believe it is in our national interests to take a stand for humanity and the sanctity of life.

When we fail to do that—whether it’s Bosnia, Somalia, or wherever—we’re making a negative statement about the values that we supposedly hold so dear.

What were the conditions in Somalia prior to the arrival of U.S./United Nations forces?

When I was there a few months before the troops arrived, things were deteriorating rapidly. Infrastructures had been totally dismantled, bit by bit. Everything was shut down. Banditry and violence among warlords were to the point that it was almost impossible to get food delivered to people who needed it.

Was the military intervention a good idea?

Initially, I could not see how an outside party armed to the teeth could help. But by December of last year, I’d changed my mind because security within the country had deteriorated so. When forces did arrive, I was disappointed that they landed only in Mogadishu. This put relief workers in other parts of the country at risk.

Has intervention had a positive effect?

Without question, it has. Thanks to armed forces and relief organizations, starvation has been eradicated. Except for southern Mogadishu, where ...

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