Thursday, May 8, 2014

Boko Haram

The president is responding to the atrocity committed by the Islamist Boko Haram in Nigeria in what is probably the most appropriate fashion. Boko Haram kidnapped and is selling into slavery almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, most of whom are Christian.

One would like to see a couple of teams of special ops sent there to hunt these savages down and rescue the girls, but Nigeria certainly isn't the only place in the world where atrocities are being committed against children. In Syria they're being gassed and murdered every day by their government, and yet I think it would be a grave mistake to get involved in Syria, so how would we justify getting militarily involved in Nigeria?

One difference, of course, is that we have a chance of succeeding in Nigeria in a way that we don't in Syria. In Syria whichever side wins we lose. There are other powers - Russia, Iran - supporting the government in Syria who would have to be confronted should we help the rebels. Moreover, the rebels are aligned with al Qaeda, so helping the rebels would be helping al Qaeda. It's a mess. In Nigeria it's much more clear-cut. No one supports Boko Haram except al Qaeda.

President Obama is sending forensics resources to assist the Nigerian military in tracking down the perpetrators of this and other horrors in Nigeria, but he's not sending troops (as far as we know) and at this point that seems about right, at least to me.

What's not right, and, in fact, is very unfortunate, is that several years ago the FBI, CIA and others in the intelligence community urged the State Department under Hillary Clinton to place Boko Haram on the list of terrorist organizations, but Ms Clinton refused to do it. Had she done so, more resources would have been brought to bear earlier to curtail the activities of this group.

Her failure to see the threat posed by this organization is not unlike her failure to see the threat posed to our embassy personnel in Benghazi.

Now Ms Clinton is going around calling for an international push to find these girls. One might ask, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"