On this day, the 3rd of October 1993, a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Mogadishu by gun-toting civilians. The mission of the American Army’s Delta Force and the Ranger Infantry was to capture two top men working under the Somalian warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

But the mission went terribly wrong. In what was estimated to take half an hour, the shooting down of two helicopters extended their time to well over the following day. A Somali man with a camcorder recorded American soldiers tied at the feet being dragged in the streets of Mogadishu.

What happened in Somalia, in what began as a humanitarian effort to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population from starvation and poverty under Aidid, resulted in a cautionary stance in America’s foreign policy with regards to intervening into foreign local war zones.

One might now question the reason for America’s intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan, as if the lesson in Somalia went unheeded. While the mission in Mogadishu was a humanitarian effort by both the United Nations and the United States, there is a sinister reason for that of Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Defining Battle, by Mark Bowden