Suddenly, everybody loves us—or at least, wants our help. The Wall Street Journal reports:
With his oil-powered economy faltering and just five weeks to go before he faces a close election, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is appealing to the U.S. to send combat troops against his country’s most intractable problem: the Islamist insurgency Boko Haram.The 57-year-old president of Africa’s largest democracy said in an interview that he has been asking the U.S. since early 2014 to send combat soldiers along with military advisers to Nigeria to battle Boko Haram. Citing intelligence reports, he said the militants were receiving “training and funds” from Islamic State, the jihadist group whose leadership is based in Iraq and Syria.
Calls like this are likely to grow, and it’s going to get harder to stay out of these conflicts. As even the NYT seems to acknowledge, the terror threat that has managed to pull itself together on President Obama’s watch while he mocked them as JV is deadlier, more capable, and more widespread than the original al-Qaeda.There are no easy answers to what is likely to be a longterm problem, in part because the forces driving the rise of the terror war are outside the control of our policy makers. We can’t create either jobs or democracies in the Muslim world at anything like the rate that might cool down the passions rocking it from side to side. We can’t do anything about the historical bitterness that causes some people to see everything from the First Crusade to the Gaza War as part of a cosmic war against Islam. We can’t undo the brutalization and fanaticism that leads ISIS to upload grotesque snuff films on the web even as it opens slave markets for captured women and girls.In the absence of a solution to the terror problem, and there are no signs of anything like a solution anywhere on the horizon, expect more bloody movements to spring up in more poorly-governed countries. expect more linkages to grow as allied terror groups build better networks of their own. Expect a more effective division of labor between those waging the two complementary elements of contemporary terror campaigns; attacks on both the “near enemy” in their homelands and the “far enemy” in Europe and North America. Expect also a continuous and even growing trickle of vulnerable young people from within the West to be caught up in what to unstable minds can look like the glamor and élan of fanaticism and violence.The ugly truth of this fight—something we didn’t ask for but something we cannot avoid—is that it isn’t going away. We can’t wish it away, apologize it away, appease it away, charm it away, or even drone it away. We can’t get rid of it by fixing the underlying conditions that help cause it, and no act of intercultural understanding on our part can “heal” the ‘wounds’ in the twisted spirits of the fanatics.The road before us is long and dark, and unless we are extremely fortunate, we are likely both to suffer and to commit great horrors before we reach the end.