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What, If Anything, Should The United States Do About Those Nigerian Schoolgirls?

Nigeria

National Review’s  Jim Gerghaty lays some snark down on President Obama over recent comments by President Obama about the missing schoolgirls in Nigeria being held by Boko Haram:

In between Democratic Party fundraisers in California last week, President Obamatold an audience, ”Every day when I wake up and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria, when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids.”

You might think the president who joked about his authority to kill the Jonas Brothers with a drone strike if they got too close to his daughters might have an actual ability to “reach out” and, if not save the abducted girls, rain a little hellfire upon their captors. After all, during Obama’s presidency, he’s authorized roughly 400 drone strikes that have killed an estimated 2,700 to 4,100 people.

Now, Geragthy obviously has a little tongue-in-cheek here with these comments, but he raises a point that I’ve seen made by others on the right in the week or so since the story of these missing girls has, finally, become national news story. Boiled down to its essentials, that argument appears to be that President Obama is once again displaying weakness to the world. To some degree, of course, much of this is little more than the same type of partisan reaction we’ve seen from the right pretty much since the beginning of the Obama Presidency. However, along with issues such as Benghazi and the rise of a more aggressive Russia, it also forms part of what it likely to be a large part of the GOP attack on the Obama Administration for the remainder of its term as well as Hillary Clinton’s anticipated run for the White House. For example, last week it was revealed that, while she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton refused to designate Boko Haram, the group responsible for the abduction of these girls, as a terrorist organization. Now, it turns out there were some rather valid reasons why the State Department did this, including the desire not to elevate the group’s importance inside Nigeria or in Africa as a whole, but that hasn’t stopped Republicans from attacking her and the Obama Administration for it. Left unstated, of course, is the question of just how designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization could have prevented them from pulling off a kidnapping that isn’t all that dissimilar from actions they’ve taken before, although on a smaller scale.

Overriding all of this criticism, though, is the unstated assumption that there is “something” that the United States could do to save these girls, if we only had a President with the intestinal fortitude to take the right action. As is usually the case when dealing with this type of criticism, though, it quickly becomes apparent that the solutions aren’t quite as simple as they seem on the other end of a web browser.

Obviously, the drone strikes idea that Geragthy puts forward is entirely impractical under present circumstances. Assuming for the moment that we even had a good idea of where the leaders of Boko Haram were located, any attempt to strike at them would likely result in the immediate death of most or not all of the girls, or their removal to a location even deeper in the jungle than where ever it is they’re currently located. Additionally, any such strike would likely result in civilian casualties and, much as it has in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, create more American enemies. Drones are excellent tools for surveillance or for taking out individual targets. They are, it seems to me, completely useless in a hostage situation such as this.

The larger problem of any rescue mission, though, is that we likely don’t even know where these girls are. By all accounts, the Nigerian Army’s control over the area where this happened is minimal at best, and Boko Haram exploits this by striking their targets and then retreating to safety in the vast forests in the area, and indeed even crossing over the border into nation’s such as Cameroon where their presence is, apparently, tolerated to some degree. Some reports have indicated that the girls have most likely been broken up into small groups, which would further complicate any kind of rescue operation. In that type of scenario, unless we knew exactly where all or most of the girls were and grabbed them before their captors were able to communicate with others, the remaining girls would either be immediately killed or moved even further into the wilderness, or out of the country where retrieval would be next to impossible.  I don’t think anyone would consider that a “successful” operation.

It’s also worth noting that, in the end, this matter is an internal Nigerian one. While the government has asked the United States for assistance in this matter, and we’ve seen FBI and military officials to Lagos to assist in the search, it seems unlikely that they’d be all too thrilled with the idea of the U.S. military conducting operations on their soil. And, of course, it would be completely improper for the US to take any such action without the authorization of the nation’s leadership. Given that, it strikes me that we ought to be careful about just how much we want to get involved in what is, in the end, a Nigerian civil war. Outside of rhetoric, Boko Haram and its allies have not made any real effort to strike against the United States or American interests in Nigeria, of which the oil industry is a large part. Were we to become more directly involved because of this tragedy, that could change, and that could lead us down a path of involvement against yet another terrorist group in yet another part of the world.

In the end, this may be one of those tragedies that has to be resolved via negotiation rather than military action. Indeed, Boko Haram hinted at that today in a video purporting to show at least a portion of the kidnapped schoolgirls in which it offered to swap the girls for men being held in Nigerian prisons. That may or may not be a sincere offer, but it seems worth exploring, and it may be the only way to get these girls home safely.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    Oh, if only those schoolgirls controlled a vital supply of oil or other valuable industrial materials! Then we’d rescue them double-quick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Nothing. It’s a job for Nigeria first, the African Union second.

    Here’s Pat Lang’s assessment of the operational requirements if we attempt a military solution:

    No, to do the job properly would require something like the commitment of much of US Eighteenth Airborne Corps (the 82nd Airborne Division, additional air assets, logistical assets, etc.), a lot of SOF and the redirection of a lot of US satellite reconnaissance, UAVs and SIGINT assets. All these intelligence means are exactly the activities so thoroughly reviled by the press.

    A major logistical base would have to be built, local contracts let and the whole cycle of corruption that has infested Iraq and Afghanistan would begin anew.

    A major campaign would be fought across NE Nigeria. The expense, born solely by the US would be immense.

    That’s an argument for maintaining a low profile rather than mounting a public relations campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. EddieInCA says:

    This whole Boko Haram thingy is just a Obama ploy to distract the American People from Benghazi.

    Or so says Allen West: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/05/12/foxs-allen-west-fishy-focus-on-boko-haram-is-me/199263

    Wow. Just wow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  4. Yea but Allen West is nuts

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    There was a French National and three American Nationals being kept as hostages by FARC in Colombia. Neither France nor the United States sent troops there. It´s very common to see French and Spanish National being kept as hostages in the Maghreb and in Sahel region of Africa.

    There is little that can be done in these situations. Ironically, had the Europeans be more interventionist on the Maghreb they would be less dependent from energy from Russia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. stonetools says:

    Not much the US can do, other than behind -the-scenes support.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. mantis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yea but Allen West is nuts

    The difference between West and the people you read at National Review is minimal at most.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  8. @mantis:

    The difference between West and the people you read at National Review is minimal at most.

    Now, now. Most National Review writers aren’t actually war criminals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  9. I felt bad about the victims of the Taliban too. But 10 years, a trillion dollars, and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, nothing has really changed. Intensity of feeling alone doesn’t grant capability, and absent capability your attempts to do something often just makes the problem worse.

    One of the hardest parts of life is having to live with tragedies that make seeth with rage but which you can ultimately can do nothing about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    The bottom line is we can no longer afford to be the worlds policeman and when come right down to it we were never that good at it anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  11. C. Clavin says:

    What, If Anything, Should The United States Do About Those Nigerian Schoolgirls?

    Ask Bill Kristol…then do the opposite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  12. mantis says:

    Here’s the Republican script when any troublesome event happens in a foreign country.

    Before any action by the US: The president must do something about X! What is he waiting for?!

    Following any nonmilitary action (statements, sanctions, diplomatic overtures, etc.): The president is a feckless, ineffectual weakling and his lack of forceful action is harming the image of the US!

    Following any military action, including military aid: The president is a lawless tyrant with no respect for the Constitution! Impeach!

    This script can be applied to any foreign policy situation. Heads I win, tails you lose.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  13. Lounsbury says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Ironically, had the Europeans be more interventionist on the Maghreb they would be less dependent from energy from Russia.

    Eh? What?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  14. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Most National Review writers aren’t actually war criminals.”

    Only because it’s really hard to commit war crimes when you spend the entire war cheerleading other people’s deaths while hiding behind your computer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Let’s see: Boko Haram is more properly known as “Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad,” and claim to represent a (perhaps “the”) legitimate expression of Islam. But as many here have said over and over, they really don’t represent “true Islam.” So we should exploit that.

    Here are a few ideas:

    1) Persuade Nigeria to accept outside help — but not necessarily from us.

    2) Identify Imams and other Muslim leaders who have condemned Boko Haram, and widely disseminate the fatwas that have been issued condemning Boko Haram.

    3) Offer logistic and intelligence support to Muslim military and paramilitary forces to actively engage Boko Haram so they can properly address this insult to Islam.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

  16. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Identify Imams and other Muslim leaders who have condemned Boko Haram, and widely disseminate the fatwas that have been issued condemning Boko Haram.

    And of course here’s Jenos to repeat the blood libel that Muslim leaders have not condemned groups boko haram when 30 seconds googling will demonstrate this accusation to be false.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  17. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Ignoring your bait and switch attempt which you surely believe is quite clever, I’ll treat your suggestion as a serious one. The US should not really be injecting itself into, or attempting to ignite, internecine religious struggles in other countries, by proxy or directly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: And of course here’s Jenos to repeat the blood libel that Muslim leaders have not condemned groups boko haram when 30 seconds googling will demonstrate this accusation to be false.

    I’ll ignore the appallingly tasteless irony of your use of the term “blood libel” here and merely point out that what you said bears absolutely no relation to what I actually said. in fact, your assertion quite nicely dovetails with my suggestion — you’re doing the first part of it already.

    One of Boko Haram’s strengths is that there aren’t many dissenting voices as to their interpretation of Islam (largely because they tend to kill those who disagree with them). Perhaps if we give the Nigerian Muslims an alternative interpretation of Islam, they will reject Boko Haram’s views.

    @mantis: Are you happy with the current round of “hashtag diplomacy?” Do you acknowledge just how stupid, impotent, and irrelevant it makes us look to post pictures of our top leaders holding up signs on the internet, especially when dealing with a group that rejects Western technloogy?

    Or would you be more inclined to help if the victims weren’t female, black, and (in many cases) Christian? Are you sexist, racist, or religiously bigoted?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  19. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    Yea but Allen West is nuts

    Please point me at the conservatives who don’t say crazy things…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  20. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’ll ignore the appallingly tasteless irony of your use of the term “blood libel” here

    I see it as perfectly appropriate, given that like the original, your lies spread fake stories in order to justify your desire for religious violence.

    One of Boko Haram’s strengths is that there aren’t many dissenting voices as to their interpretation of Islam (largely because they tend to kill those who disagree with them). Perhaps if we give the Nigerian Muslims an alternative interpretation of Islam, they will reject Boko Haram’s views.

    And again, this is a lie. The actual spiritual leaders of the majority of muslims in Nigeria have repeatedly condemned boko haram even before the recent kidnapping. Which again is easily verifiable by anyone interested in truthfulness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  21. anjin-san says:

    the current round of “hashtag diplomacy?” Do you acknowledge just how stupid, impotent, and irrelevant

    Hmm. Michelle Obama puts a photo up on the internet, and tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people see it. Seems like a pretty easy way to put a problem on the front burner. If it was one of my family members that had been taken hostage, I would be very happy to get support from the first lady.

    Poor Jenos. The little boy who cried, and cried, and just could not stop crying.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  22. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Are you happy with the current round of “hashtag diplomacy?”

    Don’t care. Harmless.

    Do you acknowledge just how stupid, impotent, and irrelevant it makes us look to post pictures of our top leaders holding up signs on the internet

    The only people thinking that are American wingnuts like yourself, so no, I don’t acknowledge that. If it bothers you so much, why don’t you post pictures of yourself shooting a machine gun in the air or some other such image to project our immense power that you don’t feel confident enough about? I’m sure that will fix things right quick.

    especially when dealing with a group that rejects Western technloogy?

    My guess is the effort is about rallying people to the cause, not actually convincing Boko Haram to release their hostages.

    Or would you be more inclined to help if the victims weren’t female, black, and (in many cases) Christian?

    Any criticism of your dumbassery should not be interpreted as a lack of desire to help.

    Are you sexist, racist, or religiously bigoted?

    No. Any other dumbf*ck things to say?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  23. Tyrell says:

    @stonetools: What they need to do is send a team in to quickly take care of the leadership of the thugs who kidnapped the girls. That would solve the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  24. mantis says:

    @Tyrell:

    Who, where, and how?

    Enough of your cartoonish Team America foreign policy prescriptions. Join us in the real world, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  25. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: For God’s sake, even Al Qaeda condemns these people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  26. Rick Almeida says:

    @Tyrell:

    Form one up with your fellow conservative internet tough guys and have at it. Maybe Erick Ericson can bring his wife’s shotgun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The amount of stupidity and utter ignorance that you routinely pack into any given post is almost impressive.

    Let’s see: Boko Haram is more properly known as “Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad,” and claim to represent a (perhaps “the”) legitimate expression of Islam.

    Their founder is well known for having denied the Prophethood of Mohammed and having made any number of absolutely… lunatic declarations.

    There’s not reason to think of these lads as being “true” Muslims any more than the loony-tunes of The Lords Resistance Army are good Xians. They’re both a set of addled back-woods lunatics whose access to ignorant young lads and cheap crappy AKs has gotten them a wee bit of fame.

    2) Identify Imams and other Muslim leaders who have condemned Boko Haram, and widely disseminate the fatwas that have been issued condemning Boko Haram.

    That would be just about every leader in bloody Nigeria you stupid git, include the Sultan of Sokoto (aka Commander of the Faithful and leader of the Jamaat Nasr Islam – i.e. the biggest bloody Nigerian Islamic community).

    Your gross ignorance really is outstanding, more outstanding is the utterly mendacious and idiotic manner which you spew out completely invented assertions, such as:

    One of Boko Haram’s strengths is that there aren’t many dissenting voices as to their interpretation of Islam (largely because they tend to kill those who disagree with them). Perhaps if we give the Nigerian Muslims an alternative interpretation of Islam, they will reject Boko Haram’s views.

    This is pure fiction. Utter and pure fiction (or rather something you just invented out of your active internal fantasy world).

    Boko Haram is staggeringly unpopular. However, they’re also basically a criminal gang hiding out in remote backwoods that are really bloody hard to access and they’re involved in all kinds of queer trafficking (it’s no accident one must add that they’ve become a more serious problem of late – arms trafficking from Libya).

    The fact they’re not easily hammered out is … well no surprise. Look at the crazed Uganda outfit The Lord’s Resistance Army – and they were put on the US terror list back in 98 as I recall.

    Regardless, your spewing bizarre invented fantasies about Boko Haram’s supposed broad appeal shows nothing more than it is difficult to know if you’re simply a troll or a deluded mendacious loon. Or both I suppose.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  28. Lounsbury says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Quite, quite….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Neil Hudelson says:

    Wow. I don’t believe Jenos has ever been so thoroughly spanked. That was just painful.

    *Applause*

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  30. Hal_10000 says:

    Oh, if only those schoolgirls controlled a vital supply of oil or other valuable industrial materials! Then we’d rescue them double-quick.

    Um, Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers. But I still don’t think we should get involved other than in an advisory capacity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. Matt Bernius says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Kudos, on the well reasoned and balanced response. Unfortunately, I must also welcome you to the “Jenos Anti-Muslim Anti-Logic Bigot Ride.”

    Here’s the general flow that the rest of your interactions with him will go:

    Stop 1:
    Jenos: Let me point out how *bad* Islam is using the Koran.
    Us: Ok, fair. How do you reconcile that with the *bad* passages in the Bible or Torah.
    Jenos: Silence.

    Stop 2:
    Jenos: Ok, well lets look at the *bad* history of Islam.
    Us: Ok, fair. How about lets look at the *bad* histories of other religions.
    Jenos: Silence.

    Stop 3:
    Jenos: Ok, who said history. Let’s talk about the present, Islam is bad everywhere!
    Us: Really, because lets look at Muslims in X, Y, Z, locations, they aren’t behaving the way you describe.
    Jenos: Well those aren’t “real” Muslims. What about what Muslims are doing *here.*
    Us: Ok, what about present Jews/Christians/Hindus/Buddhists taking similar bad actions *here.*
    Jenos: Those are “some” Jews/Christians/Hindus/Buddhists, they don’t count.
    Us: Wait, why are only the “bad” Jews/Christians/Hindus/Buddhists not real Jews/Christians/Hindus/Buddhists, yet the “Good” Muslims are not the “real” Muslims.
    Jenos: Silence.

    And in the end, there will most likely be one of two final paths:

    Jenos: Let’s go back to all the bad things in the Koran…

    Or Jenos will simply ignore everything you write and continue on in his bigotry unabated (all the while complaining that we dare to call his bigoted behavior on this topic bigoted).

    Like I said, welcome to the ride. Looks like you entered at stop 3. Rest assured, you will most likely be visiting the other stops now or in the near future. At least you are in good company — most of us have taken this ride before.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  32. bill says:

    it’s been about a month now, there’s not a whole lot we can do or even could if we were asked to intervene. nigeria wished it away and really don’t want us upstaging them on their own turf, plus the jungle is pretty dense so forget about drones and such.
    i heard they’re asking for an exchange now, release some prisoners for the girls- might as well as there’s not much left to do.
    sad that the media doesn’t report that the boys were killed at the school, just for getting a western education- and they’re muslims.
    now the dreaded “hashtag”crap is weak, like that’ll do anything aside from make them feel good about maybe even caring a little.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Um, Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers.

    Um, yes. But the schoolgirls aren’t. That’s rather the point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  34. PAUL HOOSON says:

    Nigeria has been our strongest ally in Africa, recruiting other African nations to support our war on international terrorism. The U.S. needs to hit this terrorist organization hard with military force to set back their efforts to turn this country backward. Emerging African states like this are important markets for American goods, as well as goods from Asia. The U.S. needs a unified front with China and other nations to keep Africa moving ahead socially and as a marketplace for trade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  35. Grewgills says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Nigeria has been our strongest ally in Africa

    That seems an argument in favor of not forcing ourselves into a domestic situation they don’t want our help with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Tyrell says:

    Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  37. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @Grewgills: It wasn’t that many years ago that the U.S. sought to protect the people of South Korea and South Vietnam from a growing Communist menace. Protecting the people of Africa from a growing terrorism and fundamentalist Islamic menace is the new battleground. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan because of growing problems in that country we supported the wrong side under Reagan. The result was Osama Bin Laden and eventually 9/11. A growing Islamic menace in Africa will oppress women and eventually result in terror against Americans in the future. I had a high hope that this president would be good for foreign policy in Africa and help to cement their increasing importance in the world as emerging markets and the need to trade with these oil and mineral rich nations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  38. Andre Kenji says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Nigeria has been our strongest ally in Africa

    I would not say that. I know that the definition of “ally” is murky(I would say that there are very few countries that could be really considered US allies), but the United States has air bases in several countries, and Nigeria is not among them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  39. C. Clavin says:

    @Lounsbury:
    You should really go a little easy on Jenos…he’s only repeating what the wing-nut websites tell him to repeat. Which is no excuse…but it’s not like the opinions he states are actually…you know…his own.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. Lounsbury says:

    RE American allies in Africa, I would say either RSA or Ghana are rather farther ahead on actual practical friendship with USA, although Kenya would get an honourable mention. Nigeria….

    However this is just deluded in its entirity:
    @PAUL HOOSON

    Protecting the people of Africa from a growing terrorism and fundamentalist Islamic menace is the new battleground. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan because of growing problems in that country we supported the wrong side under Reagan. The result was Osama Bin Laden and eventually 9/11. A growing Islamic menace in Africa will oppress women and eventually result in terror against Americans in the future.

    The level of idiocy here really is extraordinary.

    (i) Internationalising conflicts like Boko Haram, if anything what you cite rather is an argument against (and a support to not having international labels on primarily local loony-tune movements like Boko Haram and Lords Loony Army – i.e. Mrs Clinton made a proper call). Western intervention re Boko Haram would only serve to give them a veneer of legitimacy in their opposition (that is help them in their agit prop).

    Why one would wish to do so when said organisation is busily scoring own-goals on the PR front among the N. Nigerian Muslim population rather escapes. Messianic Action Movie thinking on the part of a certain ignorant segment of Americans one supposes.

    (ii) What the bloody hell are you on about re USA intervening on the wrong side re Afghanistan? The Sovs invaded Afghanistan because of the TWO Left parties that executed a coup d’état, the Sov aligned party was having a nasty go of it, and the Sovs wanted to set up a client state. There wasn’t a particular Islamic insurgency until the Sovs CREATED IT by their massive and horrible brutality.

    As it happened their 1920s-1930s template from their Central Asian captive nations worked really poorly in Afghanistan for many reasons.

    The Taleban only emerged post-Sov exit and the collapse of the interim government.

    US supporting the Moujahidin wasn’t a bad call. Not trying to prop up a coalition government afterwards was a bad call, but one can forgive to an extent.

    However, the utter insanity of the Taleban was very much a product of the Sovs utterly destroying old-school traditional power structures in Afghanistan. They didn’t intervene because of Islamist blah blah blah – they BLOODY CREATED IT you ignorant provincial git.

    (iii) There’s not a ‘growing Islamic Menance’ in Africa, there’s a marginal menace on the desert steppe fringes on the south end of the Sahara…. That’s it. Not Africa, a narrow band. It’s called the Sahel by the way.

    And of limited real strategic important to Americans (ex-Niger, now Niger…. Uranium mines, one shouldn’t want those falling into the wrong hands, but the French, who are rather more sophisticated about Africa than USA, they’re on that dossier so no need for loony theories).

    If you want interventions, you’d do best to pay the French. They’re experienced, better at it than USA is (contrast their interventions – bilateral or UN driven – with your buggered idiocy in Somali a wee bit back), and have a vastly better network of political connections in the relevant regions (ex. Somalia on the far east end of the ‘Saharan shore.’) . No sweating, everyone has their skill sets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  41. Lounsbury says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Well I did forget to clarify that denying the ultimate Prophethood of Mohammed – as Boko Haram’s founder did (mental illness one expects) is in any legitimate Islamic context …. well not a trivial transgression and a fair reason to be held to be non-Muslim as such.

    That is, quite far out there and nothing your usual Salafist crowd would turn a blind eye to. Rather indicates what a loony-tune group they are (and perfectly fits with the weirdo bucket of the Lord’s Loopy Army in Uganda).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. Matt Bernius says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Well I did forget to clarify that denying the ultimate Prophethood of Mohammed – as Boko Haram’s founder did (mental illness one expects) is in any legitimate Islamic context …. well not a trivial transgression and a fair reason to be held to be non-Muslim as such.

    Exactly. This is akin to a formulation of Christianity where Christ is not divine or denies the resurrection.

    It’s also worth noting that whether we’re talking about Islam or Christianity, in places like Africa, the expression of these religions often bares little resemblance to what westerners are familiar with. Often that’s because local belief systems are integrated into religious practices.

    It’s one of the reasons that those who know hesitate to draw direct comparisons between Christian communities in these nations and those in this country (or Islamic communities for that matter).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ PAUL HOOSON

    The U.S. needs to hit this terrorist organization hard with military force

    Emerging African states like this are important markets for American goods

    Well stud, are you ready to saddle up and risk getting your ass shot off for corporate profits?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Grewgills says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan because of growing problems in that country we supported the wrong side under Reagan.

    So we should have supported the Soviets? But, just before this you said there was a growing communist? You aren’t making much sense here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Just a quick question: did you ever realize that I didn’t follow your script, and your comments were a complete non sequitur to what I wrote?

    I’m trying to decide if you were dishonest or just plain stupid.

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  46. anjin-san says:

    Ah, Jenos is back. And I thought that Lounsbury was still scraping what is left of him off the bottom of his shoe…

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  47. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    My answers to your direct questions were non sequitur? Only if you lack understanding of that term.

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  48. Neil Hudelson says:

    This is another tactic of Jenos. If he disappears of long enough he then doesn’t have to respond to everyone pointing out his inanities. He just argues against some minor insult leveled by Clif or Anjin.

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  49. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @Lounsbury: @Lounsbury: @Grewgills: It wasn’t that many years ago that the U.S. sought to protect the people of South Korea and South Vietnam from a growing Communist menace. Protecting the people of Africa from a growing terrorism and fundamentalist Islamic menace is the new battleground. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan because of growing problems in that country we supported the wrong side under Reagan. The result was Osama Bin Laden and eventually 9/11. A growing Islamic menace in Africa will oppress women and eventually result in terror against Americans in the future. I had a high hope that this president would be good for foreign policy in Africa and help to cement their increasing importance in the world as emerging markets and the need to trade with these oil and mineral rich nations.

    I stand by my statements here. One of the best things for Afghanistan was the Soviet invasion. This would mean that the Russians would have to pour foreign aid into this nearly prehistoric nation and build hospitals and schools as well modernize and secularize this society into one of equal education for girls and women. Instead, Reagan’s flawed foreign policy which was based more on 1950’s Cold War thinking that looking at modern reality in the 1980’s funneled massive amount of arms and cash through Pakistan to Mujahedeen elements, Taliban elements as well as the early supporters of Bin Laden and al Qeada. The fact of the matter is that Afghanistan is such a breeding ground for fundamemtalist Islamic terrorist threats that some superpower nation needed to be present in that country, whether it be the Soviets or the United States. It hardly mattered if such an insignificant country had a Communist government or not, because the country is too much of a breeding ground for terrorism unless brought under a government at least more advanced socially than what the Taliban or al Qaeda would bring. – Publicly, the U.S. should have condemned the 1979 Soviet invasion, as it did with Jimmy Carter, but privately the U.S. should have recognized that invasion did have some important advantages in neutralizing a serious threat almost in the same way that the Soviet partition of Berlin prevented any further wars caused by Germany until their culture had evolved as well.

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  50. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @Grewgills: No. Publicly we should condemn the invasion as we did under Carter, but Reagan took it to the next level by funneling arms and money through Pakistan to elements that included the Taliban, al Qaeda and the Mujahedeen. – This was much worse than doing nothing because these fundamentalist Islamic elements breeded in Afghanistan, and spread their terrorism worldwide. – The Soviets would have at least made the country a secular, if not Godless state, with new schools and hospitals, equal access to education by girls and women, and other important differences from what the Taliban brought to the nearly prehistoric nation. Afghanistan was one of very few nations in the world that was probably better off under Soviet-style Communism than under the control of the Taliban. – The nation is so unstable and so dangerous to the Western world that Soviet control was preferable to what the alternative would be.

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  51. PAUL HOOSON says:

    @anjin-san: Bikers don’t back down. – The U.S. has so many high tech weapons and aircraft that we can hit these poorly equipped Islamic extremists with enough bombs to set their organization back without any real risk to American lives. Cruise missiles probably can’t be used, but most other air weapons including drones with rockets can do serious damage to this terror group. – If the U.S. could weaken this group and train and arm the Nigerian army to mop up, this would be one alternate that would not really risk U.S. many lives.

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  52. mantis says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    most other air weapons including drones with rockets can do serious damage to this terror group.

    I’ve been given some aerial survelliance images of the area where Book Haram operates. Please take a look and identify their location for air forces to attack.

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  53. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: manatee, I said that the US should support Muslim groups and nations in dealing with this. You seemed to just see my name and pop off your generic “bash Jenos” rant without noticing that it had no connection whatever to what I had just said.

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  54. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    @Lounsbury: thoroughly dismantled that argument of yours. Your attempt to divert attention from your spanking has been duly noted.

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  55. Lounsbury says:

    @PAUL HOOSON:

    Your gross ignorance on Afghan and Central Asian history borders on the comical.

    Insofar as the two Communist factions overthrew and assassinated a popular, Westernizing secular President (Mohammed Daoud Khan) who was leading liberal reforms… Well let’s just say your argument for the Sovs becomes grotesquely comical in its blithering ignorance.

    All the Sovs did was ruin and wreck the country and send it into a horrible tailspin from which it has never recovered.

    But I am sure all the dead Afghan women killed by Sov bombing and ratissage operations should be grateful for your “concern” for their liberties.

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  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: There are a lot more Muslims than just those in Nigeria. And there are a lot of Muslims who feel pretty aggressive and want to avenge insults to Islam’s honor. These Boko Haram types seem like a pretty good target for their hostility.

    You see, that “spanking” you referred to is based on the assumption that I was speaking strictly about efforts strictly native to Nigeria. I thought everyone agreed that Nigeria can’t handle it on their own. So bring in outside Muslims to do the heavy lifting, AND widely disseminate the condemnation of Boko Haram by a wide assortment of authoritative figures.

    Go after Boko Haram both on propaganda grounds and physical grounds — Muslim authorities (Imams and the like) denouncing them on US-supported communications, Muslim fighters going after them with US logistical support.

    And as for my less-than-timely responses… I’m currently participating in… let’s see… at least four other fora, none of which have anything to do with politics or current events, and I actually have a life. I comment when I have the time AND inclination.

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  57. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Go back and read what Lounsbury and others have pointed out about Boko Haram. Your current argument leads me to believe that you either didn’t read, didn’t understand, or chose to ignore what has already been pointed out about Boko Haram and other Muslims both within Nigeria and throughout the world.
    I didn’t say anything about the timeliness of your response, so I don’t know where that comment came from. I did note that you didn’t address the substance of the arguments against you and tried to distract by focusing on trivia. You have again ignored the substance of argument against you and repeated points that initially exposed your ignorance of the situation.

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  58. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Listen you droolingly stupid git, Primo you were the one on about supposed Nigerian Muslim support / popularity of Boko Haram and supposed non-denunciation.

    Pretending otherwise is transparently a sad attempt to weasel.

    Secundo, American channeled AgitProp against Boko Haram will (i) have zero bloody credility (ii) rather the opposite effect re domesti ccritics street cred, (iii) give Boko Haram vastly more street cred than they have.

    Nigeria in many ways is fully capable (as much as anyone is) of dealing with Boko Haram. A decade of foreign assistance (including your USA doing all its usual manouevers on terrorist listing and other oddly irrelevant actions, as well as boots on the ground) on hasn’t been magical in Uganda re the Xtian “Lords Resistance Army” in rather similar circumstances, there is no reason to think that it will be in rather similar territory – ideological and physical.

    The Nigerians are presently crippled by the fact that they have have a really incompetent administration at present via a nobody VP who became President because the old guy died (legit health issues), that seems more exercised by the (truly excellent and honest) Central Bank Governor uncovering massive oil fund fraud than by these events (they seem to have spent more time finding ways of trying to arrest the CB Governor (including seizing his passport) than this tells you what Goodluck is all about.

    Elections are coming up. With luck he’ll be brutally spanked in the voting.

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  59. Matt Bernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    Go back and read what Lounsbury and others have pointed out about Boko Haram. Your current argument leads me to believe that you either didn’t read, didn’t understand, or chose to ignore what has already been pointed out about Boko Haram and other Muslims both within Nigeria and throughout the world.

    Again, welcome aboard the Jenos ride. You’ve entered at Stop 4 — where Jenos simply ignores all counter argument. Give it time and you’ll cycle back through steps 1-4 on this particular topic.

    Have no fear about getting lost, the stops never change and Jenos never changes on this topic.

    Here’s the general route map again, if you are interested:
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/what-if-anything-should-the-united-states-do-about-those-nigerian-schoolgirls/#comment-1923363

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  60. Matt Bernius says:

    @Lounsbury:
    Again, thanks for your analysis. For the record, don’t bother reasoning with him. His long history here has demonstrated that Jenos is about as interested in substantive discussion or debate as the average right wing radio host (whose styles he largely parrots). All he’s interested in doing is earning points for “his side.”

    It’s his schtick. He does it well. He doesn’t deviate.

    Post corrections if you want for others who are reading this. But if you are posting to change his mind, good luck.

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  61. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Lounsbury: BTW, did you ever notice your chosen name is an anagram for “Unruly SOB?” Just struck me as amusing. Anyway…

    OK, I’ll stop talking in shorthand — I’m not used to actually engaging in details with the Usual Gang.

    Boko Haram’s “support” was an abbreviated observation that they embody Mao’s observation that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” They have the superior power in large swaths of Nigeria, and as such they handle potential challengers the same way the Palestinian thugocrats do so — by kililng them, usually in a very public and demonstrative fashion.

    The suggestion I was trying to make was a two-pronged approach. The first would be purely physical — aiding Muslims interested in justice and stomping on these guys who are giving Islam such a bad name in going into Nigeria and kicking their asses. The US role, as I see it, would be in assembling and transporting these Muslim Warriors, leaning on the Nigerian government to go along (perhaps even persuading them to act as if this was their idea), and intelligence towards finding the Boko Haram jerks.

    The second prong would be going after Boko Haram’s very shaky theological underpinnings. Finding Muslim authorities (Imams, mullahs, and the like) who both disagree with Boko Haram and are willing to go on the record saying so, then transmitting their messages to the Nigerian Muslims in general. Radio, television, internet, leaflets, — anything and everything. (Hell, even a twitter hashtag like #BokoHaramIsHaram or something, if you like.)

    That was the gist of my suggestion, spelled out. Two prongs, utilizing areas where the US can actually excel, and NOT getting us entangled in a boots-on-the-ground (or even jets-in-the-air) fight.

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  62. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    As it is the storied Family name, no my dear dim git.

    As for your sad attempt to weasel into a less droolingly ignorant position:

    Boko Haram’s “support” was an abbreviated observation that they embody Mao’s observation that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

    No it wasn’t. That is more than abundantly clear you were blithering on making up ‘facts’.

    The suggestion I was trying to make was a two-pronged approach. The first would be purely physical — aiding Muslims interested in justice and stomping on these guys who are giving Islam such a bad name in going into Nigeria and kicking their asses. The US role, as I see it, would be in assembling and transporting these Muslim Warriors, leaning on the Nigerian government to go along (perhaps even persuading them to act as if this was their idea), and intelligence towards finding the Boko Haram jerks.

    That is just plain idiotic.

    Never mind utterly unfeasible.

    Sending random “Muslims” just because you see this is as some macro Muslim issue has zero sense as either a practical or an effective strategy.

    It’s pure Cartoon territory. As in Power Rangers.

    The second prong would be going after Boko Haram’s very shaky theological underpinnings. Finding Muslim authorities (Imams, mullahs, and the like) who both disagree with Boko Haram and are willing to go on the record saying so, then transmitting their messages to the Nigerian Muslims in general. Radio, television, internet, leaflets, — anything and everything. (Hell, even a twitter hashtag like #BokoHaramIsHaram or something, if you like.)

    Every bloody proper Islamic authority in Nigeria is already on the record against these clowns you ignorant daft fool.

    Just like in Uganda every proper Xian leader is on the record against the Lord’s Loony-Tunes.

    Your ideas are ignorant, facile and grossly ill-informed.

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  63. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Careful walking back so fast, you may trip.

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  64. anjin-san says:

    Seriously Jenos, get out of town for a few days, chill out, and avoid computers. This is like watching Muhammad Ali fight Pee Wee Herman. And guess what, you are the one with silly suit and the funny voice.

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  65. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Lounsbury: I can put up with a lot of insults, slurs, and denigrations, sir, but this time you go too far:

    It’s pure Cartoon territory. As in Power Rangers.

    I have NEVER had anything but contempt for the Power Rangers.

    Your seconds may contact mine for satisfaction.

    As far as the rest… you keep insisting that I limited the scope of aiding to within Nigeria. Since you keep miscasting my arguments, feel free to keep arguing with what I didn’t say. I don’t see any particular compunction to argue in defense of points that you made up and tried to put in my mouth.

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  66. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    As far as the rest… you keep insisting that I limited the scope of aiding to within Nigeria.

    No he did not. He and others have repeatedly pointed out that virtually every major Muslim group both in and out of Nigeria have condemned Boko Haram. Even fricking Al Quaeda has condemned Boko Haram. You are the only one here living in this fantasy world where Boko Haram has not been condemned by Muslims both within and without Nigeria.

    One of Boko Haram’s strengths is that there aren’t many dissenting voices as to their interpretation of Islam (largely because they tend to kill those who disagree with them). Perhaps if we give the Nigerian Muslims an alternative interpretation of Islam, they will reject Boko Haram’s views.

    The people of Nigeria, as has been pointed out several times before directly to you, already have MANY voices in opposition to Boko Haram and their wildly unpopular interpretation of Islam. You made an incredibly ignorant assertion. You have been trying to walk it back to more reasonable ground all the while mischaracterizing the arguments against you in an attempt to distract from your shameful ignorance.

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  67. Matt Bernius says:

    @Grewgills:

    You have been trying to walk it back to more reasonable ground all the while mischaracterizing the arguments against you in an attempt to distract from your shameful, willful ignorance.

    Had to do a slight, but important, build there. Given the countless times people have patiently attempted to correct his “ignorance” on this topic (through logic, outside references, etc), its clear that Jenos is intentionally and willfully choosing to maintain his ignorant views.

    The fact is any ground he gives up in this thread will immediately forgotten the next time he chooses to comment on the evil that is Islam in all of its true forms.

    Hence why, on this particular topic, he’s a bigot:

    a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

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