Why US Intervention Is No Answer to Nigeria’s Woes


US first lady Michele Obama tweets her support for freeing the kidnapped Nigerian girls. Pic taken from her twitter feed Flotus
US first lady Michele Obama tweets her support for freeing the kidnapped Nigerian girls. Pic taken from her twitter feed Flotus

Boko Haram is Africa’s problem. And it is a war which sub-Saharan Africa must fight alone. The US/Western intervention will only add fuel to the fire


[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a rare show of unity five sub-Saharan nations, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin have declared total war on Boko Haram. And the world, for a change, unconditionally extended its support for this war because this is one war the African nations need to fight no matter what it takes; this is one war, the world feels, is a just war; this is one war, we feel, must be fought until Boko Haram is completely eliminated and its last man is executed.

Yet, in our unconditional support for the war on Boko Haram we would toe the stand taken by Jumoke Balogun, a Nigerian American and co-founder of compareafrique.com. We will not insist “on urging American power, specifically American military power, to address this issue.” And, therefore, we do not endorse the high-pitched emotional appeal for the US intervention of a noted author from Africa, Dambisa Moyo.

In barbarity of its crime Boko Haram’s abduction of over 200 school going girls and its threat to sell them as slaves is outrageous. These girls have to be rescued if they have already not been sold away and Boko Haram certainly deserves complete elimination for the sake of humanity. But that does not warrant US intervention or involvement. France has already ruled out its intervention and the United States has remained noncommittal on the issue though it has already pressed its drones into service to trace out the abducted girls.

Senator John McCain has been demanding what he normally is best at. He wants the US President to send Special Forces to rescue the girls “with or without Nigerian officials’ permission because their abduction amounts to ‘crimes against humanity’ under the United Nations’ charter.” We know it is and a retribution should been in place already. But flagging another war against terrorism, we fear, would only turn Nigeria into another Afghanistan — this time in Africa.

Boko Haram may or may not be an Al Qaeda satellite but it is true that it is fast emerging as the biggest threat in Africa. Yet, we insist that McCain’s demand is cheap posturing. Any military involvement would lend justification to an unwarranted expansionist agenda of a super power.

Boko Haram is Africa’s problem, especially Nigeria’s. And it is a war which sub-Saharan Africa must fight alone. We can, at best, endorse logistic and intelligence support from the West and the United States. France has rightly offered logistic support and will coordinate the war. The United States has already pressed its drones in the search for the girls. Britain has offered ‘practical support’, whatever that may mean.

Moyo is myopic in her accusations against the United States that it is retreating from its engagements in the world. In fact, Western interventions, be it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere, have only worsened the situations. She is appealing for something which has actually been debilitating to the world.

Both Iraq and Afghanistan have been rendered moribund; Libya has been dilapidated beyond any quick recovery; Syria has virtually become decrepit and over Ukraine the West, with all its interventions, has reignited Cold War. Deaths have compounded everywhere the US and its Western cronies have intervened; millions have become homeless; millions more have lost their livelihood and society have paralyzed further.

The debilitation of the Western interventions has been particularly appalling in Afghanistan. War against terror has not achieved its objectives; Taliban has not been defeated; the world has not been made any safer. Former first ladies of the United States and Britain, Laura Bush and Cherie Blair, have been more than enthusiastic in supporting their husbands’ interventions in Afghanistan. They went overboard claiming that Western intervention will liberate the Afghan women, redeem society from its imprisonment and establish Western liberal ethos. We know what that intervention has done to the country after a decade.

Have British and French interventions in Mali been able to defeat Al Qaeda? Have the deeply embedded US drone operations in Somalia and elsewhere in central Africa been able to eliminate terrorism network? Has the situation in Libya been made any better? Has the extremism born out of the medieval age bigotry which the United States and Europe feel is threatening the world been eradicated?

Therefore, where is the guarantee, Dambisa Moyo, that another American intervention will work? On the contrary, we are afraid, fresh intervention or any US military operation in Nigeria against Boko Haram will lead to further deterioration of the situation. It will only open another front for the zealots and bigot extremists to reunite. Are we not seeing a same thing happening in Syria today?

Neither the United States nor any European nation should fight a proxy war in Nigeria; they cannot be cajoled into a war which is not their and must not be dragged into any military operation to compensate lassitude of the Nigerian government.

Its President Goodluck Jonathan has wasted precious time to act, his declaration of war on Boko Haram has come awfully late, he failed to launch hunt for the abducted girls when he should have and he waited like an imbecile for US and Western interventions. He wanted others to fight his war, gain political points and used the national shame only as a ploy to provoke foreign involvement.

Nigerian President may have good luck as his first name but on the nation this president has only heaped bad luck and mortification. Neither the United States nor the world has been slow in acknowledging Nigeria’s crisis; we have not been insouciant. It was Jonathan who has betrayed his nation and Nigerians.–Courtesy Times of Oman

All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

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