Debating on Success of the Kenya Counter Insurgency on the Shifta War: Between Double Success and Little Consolation

Xavier F. Ichani, Reuben M. Matheka, Halkano A. Wario


Military operations are undertaken to attain specific political and military objectives. However, what amounts to success in military operations remains unclear. Traditionally, operation success was narrowly defined in terms of objectives of the intervention. To ‘end human suffering’, ‘regime change,’ ‘capture a city,’ and ‘rescue captured troops.’ Modern definition of military success is human centric, based on tenets of just war principle of ‘do-more-good than harm.’ In this regards, operation success is achieved when and if in the intervention some people who would have died if no military assistance was granted, fail to die because the military intervened. Further, the restorative justice approach evaluates success of military operation in terms of state ability to repair harm committed by the military in the course of the war. The assumption is that military operations result in human rights violation. Using critical discourse analysis, this article interrogates the success of Kenya’s political and military objectives in the Shifta war against the four possible outcomes in war. First diplomatic and military success. Second, diplomatic and military failure. Third, diplomatic failure but military success and fourth, diplomatic success with military failure. The Shifta war having been resolved through a ceasefire, we conclude that decisive military victory was untenable for Kenya without diplomatic efforts. Kenya’s double victory and Somalia little consolation was majorly a result of Kenya’s successful diplomatic manourvoure over Somalia’s failed international charm.

Keywords: Counter insurgency, diplomatic manouvoure, military operations, Shifta war.

DOI: 10.7176/IAGS/71-04

Publication date: April 30th 2019

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