21 May 2014

Boko Haram and its enemies: the way it goes in our world

Although the northern populace mostly abhors the violence, there is considerable local sympathy and support for Sharia law, seen by many as the only way to end what is widely regarded as a corrupt and inept government.
And more blah blah blah... of the usual brain-melting variety.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, is less mealymouthed on the subject:
Mounting U.S. frustration with the case spilled into the open Thursday at a Senate hearing.
“It is impossible to fathom that we might have actionable intelligence and we would not have the wherewithal — whether by the Nigerians themselves or by other entities helping the Nigerians — to be able to conduct a rescue mission,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yes, dear Senator, the Nigerian army is not exactly up to scratch. And here comes one of the possible reasons, from about a year ago:
The United States Government has withdrawn military assistance to Nigeria citing various human rights violations by Nigerian security forces, particularly the military which is currently engulfed in a controversy over the killing of dozens and destruction of hundreds of residences in Baga, a town in Borno State during a clash with members of the Boko Haram.
There is little doubt that poorly equipped and poorly trained armies tend to fight dirty. However, the people who provide support to outfits of the Boko Haram kind, are usually more than happy to overlook any possible human rights violations (like, for example, kidnapping hundreds of girls or murdering dozens of sleeping students). More on the subject here.

And, while Hillary Clinton is indeed unjustly tied to the kidnapping of the girls, as David Francis laments in The Fiscal Times, the rest of his defense kinda stinks. At least on three points out of four. Lame support for a lame State Department is all it is.

But as lame as that was, you can make a step or two to the left and find an even more interesting interpretation of events:
CNN: Following Group's Designation As An FTO, Boko Haram Ended Peace Talks With Nigerian Government. According to CNN, Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau abandoned talks with the Nigerian government after the U.S. designated it as a foreign terrorist group.
Yep. Now, did anyone in US government - after Hillary Clinton left it - give a thought to the Boko Haram leader's sensitivity? His wounded pride? Nope - they just went and brazenly defined him and his gang of kind and smiley murderers a terrorist organization. That after thousands of dead. Speak about hypocrisy...

And, speaking about hypocrisy, here comes another brilliant example:
When congressional leaders asked the State Department to tailor American assistance to Nigeria in a way that would protect Christians from religious persecution at the hands of Boko Haram, an extremist group that kidnapped hundreds of Christian girls last month, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's team dismissed the idea on the theory that the organization was not motivated by religion.

"This religious tension, while real, should not be mistaken as the primary source of violence in Nigeria," David Adams, assistant secretary of legislative affairs, wrote to Congress in an Oct. 4, 2012 letter. "Similar to the United States, Nigeria's religious diversity is a source of strength, with communities working across religious lines to protect one another."
Yeah, Boko Haram, they are just like.... er... Amish, to take one example of kindly and non-violent folks.

No, indeed, I can't blame Ms Clinton for every foul-up that happened on her watch, although there is such thing as ministerial responsibility, but too much is too much. There were other departments, like intelligence, military etc. that should have been more proactive, but it's easy to assign blame with hindsight...

However, this:

coupled with statements like this one:
Clinton said that as Secretary of State she had numerous meetings with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and had urged the Nigerian government to do more on counterterrorism.
are just the thing to raise some food back up at my throat. Just like that publicity stunt, in fact.

All in all, I can't agree more with Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, who penned an opinion article Media turns Boko Haram into 'superstar monsters' on CNN. Saying, among other things:
My friend's eight-year-old daughter burst into tears while watching a Boko Haram video release on TV the other evening. The terrorist group has been receiving the kind of local and international media coverage that could make even a Hollywood megastar explode with envy. At the current rate, the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, might as well be given his own reality show.
Read it in its entirety, it's all good.

What Boko Haram needs is killing. Possibly with discretion and some compassion, but killing nevertheless. And less glamorous shots of superstars brandishing placards, politicians lying like there is no tomorrow and seeking electoral gains out of suffering, and media seeking as many bloody scoops as possible - and the farther the scoops are from their countries the better.