More than 200 school girls in Nigeria were abducted en masse more than a month ago by the terrorist group Boko Haram, and despite verbal and military support from the US and other countries around the world, they are still missing. The US, of course, should help bring these girls home, but our past behavior has shown Nigeria that it would be wise to think twice before giving our military wholesale access. Our track record shows that once we infiltrate a country, it is next to impossible for the host nation to get rid of us unless we want to go. Nigeria must be empowered to solve and prevent catastrophes like this one with its own resources. The lack of trust on both sides is a tragic by-product of decades of bullying by the corporatocracy.
How can we help and not become an oppressive force in yet another country? The US is too quick to use firepower and military might to solve humanitarian problems, escalating violence in countries where we should be promoting peace. The military response only increases the harm to those people who suffer the most from war, such as the children, as in this case.
Nigeria has good reason to be very concerned about the possible ulterior motives of the US military and their predator drones. Those drones may be helpful in finding the missing girls, but Nigeria has to ask itself what else they will be doing there. While Nigerian President Jonathan has accepted US help (including intelligence agencies and predator drones) in rescuing the girls, the question arises about how much choice he really had in that decision. What kinds of pressure were put on him by economic hit men to induce him to allow the US to gain another foothold?
These are tricky issues and there are no easy answers – except to tell Washington to do the right thing. Help those girls. Help African countries develop the means for dealing with bandits and rapist militias. But don’t use these tragedies as an excuse for becoming involved in the politics of other countries. The Nigerian government and military should be allowed complete control over international forces acting within their borders.
Nigeria faces difficulties within its own government in the efforts to rescue the girls, including wide-spread corruption and poorly maintained equipment that impede efforts to solve this problem internally. Boko Haram has caused havoc in Nigeria and threatened neighboring countries for five years, demonstrating that no one, so far, can stop them. It would be ideal for Nigeria and neighboring countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, to work together with minimal support from US and UN troops.
Speak out. Let your email and Facebook friends, your local newspaper, and your elected officials know that the US should help bring back these girls and at the same time Nigeria’s national sovereignty must be upheld and strengthened, not undermined, by the US and the rest of the world. Tell our leaders we want to be part of the solution this time, not another problem for a vulnerable country.
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