Department/School of the Primary Author

History and Government


Battle of Mogadishu, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Gothic Serpent, Special Operations, Somalia, 1993, Mogadishu, Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda, genocide, foreign policy, Clinton, Bush




The Battle of Mogadishu, more commonly referred to as “Black Hawk Down,” was one of the most controversial conflicts in the second half of the twentieth century. It left a lingering question in people’s minds: was it a success or a failure? While certainly there were many failures and casualties throughout the mission, based on a military definition, it was a clear cut success; Task Force Ranger (TFR) accomplished the objective of the mission, despite significant losses, by retrieving the two targets assigned them. Both the failures and successes of the mission, as well as the overarching Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, however, have impacted U.S. foreign policy and strategies for three presidential administrations. The question is not whether the events throughout the battle impacted foreign policy and strategy. Rather, the question is how significantly they were affected. Arguably one of the largest American special operations missions in recent history, the events of the battle have been thoroughly examined by the United States government and military in order to effect change in both realms. Examples found in places such as Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur point to a refusal by the United States to commit ground troops in an unstable situation, providing air support at a maximum. Following the foreign policy failure within Somalia in the early 1990s, except for the situation in Iraq/Afghanistan, the United States has refused to act as the global police force it was so well known to be in the 20th century. This paper will attempt to prove that both the successes and failures of Operation Restore Hope and Operation Gothic Serpent directly caused this change in foreign policy.

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© 2016 Philip Dotson. All rights reserved



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