If the Obama Administration is serious about making progress in defense of America’s best interests, the President and his national security team will forthwith request resources from Congress to rid Nigeria of the scourge called Boko Haram, while also swiftly implementing a robust plan to crush the Islamic State, what remains of Al Qaeda, and other adherents of radical Islamist jihad.
Horrific as reality now appears inside Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen (places where America so far has intervened without achieving victory), Nigeria and Boko Haram present another vexing set of threats that America and what remains of the civilized world cannot ignore for much longer.
The case against Boko Haram is not nuanced. It is unambiguous. This band of Islamic rejectionists denies all benefits from modernity and commits unspeakable atrocities. In doing so, Boko Haram is already a potent threat to oil-exporting Nigeria, to neighboring African nations, and potentially to the entire world.
Why expunging Boko Haram matters
Last year on April 15th, hundreds of schoolgirls in northeastern Nigeria were brutalized at the hands of murderous brigands united under a single mantle.
The organization proudly claiming credit for these and other atrocities calls itself “Boko Haram,” which some translate as “western civilization is forbidden”. Another translation of its formal name, rendered in Arabic, is “group of the people of [Sunni Islam] for preaching and jihad”.
The crimes against humanity committed then and continuing now are so despicable that many have been moved to speak up–still, almost one full year later, little progress has been made.
The unresolved case of abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, the social media buzz that erupted subsequently only to subside, and the plain fact that few of these precious young women have yet been rescued seems to prove that the Obama Administration cannot recognize a real “War on Women,” which only a force galvanized by American example and military power might win.
Americans disagree concerning many things, but no thinking person believes it makes sense to let this dread enemy go unpunished and gather force–it and like-minded groups must be wiped from the face of the earth while the ideology that animates them gets fully exposed and utterly discredited–just as Nazism ultimately was 70 years ago.
“Harf-truths” on defeating jihad with jobs
Facts on the ground in Nigeria, while challenging, also offer excellent context to explain why ignoring the ideological threat posed by radical Islamist jihad to concentrate upon creating theoretical employment opportunities is beyond foolish. The number of persons terrifying Nigeria and threatening that country’s neighbors is much smaller than the gigantic number of underemployed Nigerians, who are not likely to get absorbed soon into the globally connected and increasingly machine and software driven global economy.
According to most recent data in the CIA World Factbook, Nigeria’s labor force of 51.5 million persons was 54.7% of its population aged 15 to 64 (94.2 million), a “labor force participation rate” that was well under comparable participation rates for America and for the European Union of 73.3% and 67.6%, respectively.
Moreover, unemployment in Nigeria was 23.9%, so that only 39.2 million persons actually worked. Of these, only 30% of the country’s workforce were employed outside its agricultural sector, even after decades of development harnessing Nigeria’s vast array of natural resources.
All told, Nigeria’s employed, non-agricultural workforce of 12.4 million was just 13.1% of its employable population; whereas the comparable figure was 67.5% for America, and 57.4% for the European Union.
If Nigeria moved to non-agricultural employment rates at levels seen in the European Union, 41.7 million underemployed Nigerians might be tapped to manufacture goods and services, but many of these workers likely would replace other employees located here in America, and in Europe.
Like the shovel-ready jobs that were not ready in 2009 and never materialized, and like so many other assertions made by Obama Administration officials that are not true, thinking that dangling imaginary jobs will defeat determined jihadists is futile and dangerous.
Traditional Obama supporters are justifiably losing hope
In Nigeria and in many other conflict zones, jihad advances while the Obama Administration pontificates and prevaricates. In their latest attack this weekend, Boko Haram is believed to be responsible for a bombing killing six that witnesses say was triggered by a female suicide bomber who looked no older than eight years old.
The time for blather and platitudes is long past–if Barack Obama cannot bring himself now to recognize evident reality, and then to act decisively, he need worry little about the contours of his legacy, having defined it and deviancy down, irreparably. Allowing Boko Haram to expand permits the possibility of the African jihadist group expanding and cooperating with the Islamic State in the Middle East, a threat much greater than the situation currently in existence.
No one inside the United States will agree that any of us would be better off in the chaos that surely comes should western civilization be overrun by vandals again, of the kind now running rampant in northeastern Nigeria.