In episode 70 David talks to former soldier John Dowe whether the drug Mefloquine (see Episode 67’s interview with Dr. Remington Nevin) could have played a role in the so-called Somalia Affair. In 1993, the same year as the Battle of Mogadishu and Black Hawk Down, soldiers from the elite Canadian Airborne Regiment were also in a restless and violent part of Somalia. Frustrated with locals sneaking in to steal and sabotage, someone ordered them to start “roughing up” anyone they caught. One group of soldiers interpreted this as setting up a trap. When the searchlight was suddenly turned on the soldiers literally blew one Somali into pieces, and severely injured another. In a second incident, a Somali was captured and beaten to death by two other soldiers.
When photos were released, a public inquiry and criminal investigation were launched, resulting in one soldier trying to commit suicide, one being sentenced to five years, and several others disciplined. The head of the military was forced to resign due to the scandal, and his successor. The Minister of Defence also resigned. Most significantly of all the entire Canadian Airborne Regiment was disbanded.
John Dowe, like many others, has noticed severe personality changes after taking the weekly malaria drug Mefloquine, and he believes that this, along with other factors such as stress, alcohol, boredom and poor leadership, allowed this scandal to occur. In fact, when he walked into the bunker where the Somali was being beaten to death, one of the soldiers doing the beating came up to him and said that “This is not who I am, John”.
John became an activist only in 2014, when he discovered that this drug is still in use by Canadian and other militaries. He is part of a small group of Canadians trying to raise awareness, in cooperation with similar groups around the world.
For more information on the Somalia affair, please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia_Affair
In Episode 69 David interviews professor Adam Lankford who recently published research, at an American Sociological Society conference, showing that the strongest factor that he studied that correlates with the number of mass shootings in a country is the rate of civilian gun ownership. David and Adam talk about whether mass shootings are important, as they represent only a small fraction of total gun deaths, and what some of the characteristics of gun shooters are, compared to other murderers, and how they differ between the US and other countries.
Some of the surprising statistics is that mass shooters are almost all male, whereas a small but significant fraction of other gun murders are by women. Mass shooters in the US on average kill fewer people, perhaps because of faster and more effective police response. Mass shooters outside the US are more likely to target military facilities, whereas American mass shooters are more likely to target civilian areas, such as schools, shopping malls and movie theaters. Mass shooters do tend to be loners, and they often focus their feelings of despair on a specific group, but this targeting does not appear to be the main reason for their violence.
Professor Adam Lankford’s website is: http://adamlankford.com