Kerry Brags About Raids: They Can Run But They Can’t Hide

Are Failed Somali Attack and Libya Kidnapping Worth the Hype?

Secretary of State John Kerry took time out of an economic summit in Bali to brag about the weekend raids against targets in northern Africa, saying they proved “members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations literally can run but they can’t hide.”

Kerry’s comments come after a failed effort to push a war in Syria, and interviews last week trying to “reassure” the world that the US military would remain aggressive abroad, and bragging about these raids seems to have been his chance to crow about America’s bellicosity in a way he didn’t get to after the recent outbreak of diplomacy.

But the two weekend raids had mixed results, at best. The attack on Somalia flat out failed, with the troops withdrawing after being unable to capture the targeted Somali. The Libya operation succeeded in capturing the target, who was hanging out in front of his home unguarded, but also sparked angry calls for “clarification” from the Libyan government, and charges of kidnapping.

The two raids were bizarre attempts by the US at flexing their muscles abroad, and the failure in Somalia suggests that they were orchestrated primarily around the perceived need to launch operations somewhere as opposed to an actual moment of opportunity. The raids were less about what they did (or didn’t) capture than about Kerry’s ability to brag about them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of