Sharlet: In Rwanda and Burundi, the American press saw “tribal warfare” — ancient and savagely natural — in massacres that were the result, in large part, of 20th-century colonial manipulations. That’s how it is in Africa, according to the American press. Where Americans and Europeans have “politics,” they have “tribes.” Or, in the case of Somalia, “clans.” “Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since 1991,” reports The New York Times‘ Jeffrey Gettleman, “when the government collapsed in clan warfare.” (Emphasis mine.) Were there clans involved? Of course. But there could not have been a war without the Somali arms build-up paid for first by the Soviets, who saw in the late dictator Siad Barre’s “Koranic Marxism” an acceptable ideology for subsidy, then by the U.S., which found in Barre’s sudden willingness to pray to Jesus — he joined a prayer cell with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley — evidence that he had seen the light, and would need his military budget nearly doubled to help him keep seeing it. Tribal warfare, indeed — Moscow vs. Washington. Mogadishu, the unlucky host city, is paying for the fight to this day.