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Terror in Nigeria
Boko Haram and the Great Famine

A terrible famine is coming to Nigeria, the New York Times reports:

Nearly a quarter of a million children are severely malnourished because Boko Haram has disrupted trade and farming, U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer warned at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday. About 2 million people in the region have not been reached, “and we can’t assess their situation. We can estimate that it’s awful.”

With Nigeria in a recession and without speedy outside help, “we will see, I think, a famine unlike any we have ever seen anywhere,” he said.

When Boko Haram abducted the 200 Chibok girls in April 2014, the kidnapped schoolgirls became a cause célèbre the world over. The international news media posted story after story on the schoolgirls. Editorials called for a muscular American military response to Nigeria’s worrisome terrorist threat. Michelle Obama even tweeted a picture with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

To date, only two of the Chibok girls have been found. But as it is becoming clear, the missing girls represent only the most publicized of Boko Haram’s many crimes.

Nigeria’s security forces are behind a bloody and haphazard war of attrition that is pushing Boko Haram out of its old stronghold in Borno, a majority-Muslim state in Nigeria’s northeast. As Boko Haram withdraws, the full extent of the devastation it has wrought is now coming into full view.

Nigeria’s economy is slipping into recession and Boko Haram’s resilience means that even “liberated” areas may be too dangerous for aid to be distributed.

This much is clear: Nigeria does not have the resources to cope with a famine affecting millions, and those with the resources—leading world powers, the UN, and NGOs—have yet to give this crisis the attention it deserves. Failure to alleviate the suffering in Borno would mean squandering the gains of liberation from Boko Haram. The longer the people of Borno starve, the less they will blame the militants of Boko Haram (who started the famine) and the more they will condemn the elites in Abuja and Lagos who could have marshaled international support to end the famine.

And a famine in Borno is not just a Nigerian problem. Refugees from Borno could stream into Chad or Cameroon. But even outside Nigeria, things wouldn’t be much better. Weak state structures, corrupt state officials, absentee teachers, and bad roads are the norm in the parts of sub-Saharan where Muslims and Christians live together, sometimes quite happily, but often in constant tension. The Sahel is very difficult to police, harder to develop, and increasingly subject to radical insurgencies. Some are religious in nature, some ethnic, but clear across Africa there are ominous signs of growing conflict and instability.

Famines like the one shaping up in Nigeria are a consequence of these insurgencies. In many cases, famine strengthens insurgencies, as hunger weakens those who might otherwise resist insurgent rule from within occupied territory. Faced with starving families, desperate fathers and brothers may even enlist in groups that promise a bit of pay and food—even if they don’t really believe in the ideological slant. Hunger is one of the oldest forms of social control.

A weak Nigerian state with a starving periphery isn’t in anyone’s interest. It’s a recipe for refugees and continued rebellion, whether under the guise of Boko Haram or another group. Famine by itself is terrible enough and worthy of our attention for purely humanitarian reasons; but the engagement of international jihadi networks in the region should make doing something a priority.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Strange, I thought that Black Lives Matter. You would expect the glitterati to be making a fuss about this, wouldn’t you?
    Oh wait, that doesn’t do anything to buttress the Democrats….never mind….

  • FriendlyGoat

    An illuminating example of Islam in practice.

    • Anthony

      And some want to imply you’re a “Socialists” – check this out: thefederalist.com/2016/09/09/alt-right-indicates-extreme-socialism/

      • FriendlyGoat

        Conservatism majors in “up is down, in is out, right is left, hot is cold, good is bad, forward is backward” and the rest of obvious opposites. You found an ideal example here.
        The thing is, we need to counter the message that Trump is not a conservative and does not represent conservatism. He got more votes from conservatism than 16 other candidates who sought to be its voice. He and the GOP voters have defined what it is in 2016. There is no other answer.

        • Anthony

          Outside of folks like Yuval Levin, et al., I think the term has been conveniently appropriated for those who are unsettled by change (demographic, cultural, gender, religious, racial, etc.) generally and gives institutional (conservatism) space where examining what motivates disappears beneath the overriding term. If Trump is it (conservatism), then what is Conservatism.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Conservatism is the wealthy seeking to become or actually becoming further removed and more insulated from everyone else and everything else. It uses church issues like opposition to abortion and gays plus appeals to racism, social exclusion (blaming immigrants) and gun enthusiasm to assemble enough votes in coalitions for elections.
            WHAT is Donald Trump if not the epitome of a person far, far removed from the hoi polloi—–in his lifestyle, women, dress, and PRESUMED intelligence? He has convinced a LOT of people that his apparent success can somehow be rubbed off onto them. He has convinced another group of already-wealthy people that he might—might—-be able to pull off the trick of assembling the herd of a such a ballot-box coalition for their (tax-cutting) benefit.

          • Anthony

            Self-deception, FG, is an exotic place! And as you know, people take their cues on how to behave from other people – groups can breed a number of pathologies of thought.

            Also what you identify as “driven” conservatism, some have labeled “The Plutocratic Culture” and socialization into orthodoxy – by the way, the worst forms of tyranny are those so subtle, so deeply ingrained, so thoroughly controlling as not even to be consciously experienced. So there are some citizens who conform unswervingly to the influence you cite.

            Furthermore (knowingly or unknowingly), those who want to maintain or further (in their mind’s eye) their position within the social hierarchy become committed to the hierarchy’s (your conservatism of plutocratic culture) preservation (wittingly or unwittingly). To your point perhaps, they fear that they might be overtaken by those below thus making all their toil (both physical and psychological) and sacrifice count for little.

            Whether you deliberately intimated this orthodoxy or not, those (citizens) possessed by the psychology will somehow convince themselves of the inferiority of deprived groups. Regrettably, the racism, sexism, class bigotry, etc. thereby activated militate against working people understanding their common interest (your real point, I presume).

          • FriendlyGoat

            Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. What we face in the 21st century is that we have a LOT more people in this country and in all countries than we once had. But at this point in time, we hope and believe they are educated enough to understand that public policy can either marginalize most of them—–or NOT, depending on what policies they choose in elections.

          • Anthony

            Amen! On a related matter, Peter Berger has an excellent essay today within your implied pluralism.

        • Tom

          “The thing is, we need to counter the message that Trump is not a conservative and does not represent conservatism. He got more votes from conservatism than 16 other candidates who sought to be its voice. He and the GOP voters have defined what it is in 2016. There is no other answer.”

          Give it up, FG. Most of Trump’s votes came from closed primaries in the Northeast–that well-known hotbed of conservate activism–and open primaries elsewhere.
          Meantime, y’all’s closed primaries elected–Clinton. Yeah, good on ya.

          • FriendlyGoat

            There is nothing wrong with closed primaries. If people aren’t voting in them because they are too “aloof” to join a party and imagining themselves above it all by claiming they are “independent”, they do not deserve a voice INSIDE EITHER OF THE TWO PARTIES. If people want to cross over in primaries and cast negative votes AGAINST certain candidates in the opposite party instead of voting FOR one of their own, we don’t need them either.
            Nice try on deflecting the blame for Trump away from conservatism itself, but you knew you were spinning before you even wrote it.

          • Tom

            Your failure to understand my points is as per usual. I LIKE closed primaries–they express the actual soul of the party, as you pointed out.
            And the fact is that your closed primaries voted Clinton into the nomination. She’s all yours, and there’s no way you can spin that.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Indeed, she is, and I’m not knocking her. She’s fine—–not as good as Obama—–but fine. So is Kaine.

          • Tom

            That you think that about Clinton explains quite a bit.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Nothing you haven’t known about me for years. I’m a liberal and a Democrat. So is Mrs. Clinton and the general direction of her administration will be along those lines. That’s why she is fine.

          • Tom

            Y’know, you’d think that you’d’ve learned by now that how you implement something matters.
            Let me explain what will happen: Clinton’s going to throw a sop to you–high-end tax increase. With appropriate carve-outs for campaign donors. She’s then going to spend the rest of her administration keeping her base appeased by waging the culture wars while selling favors to her campaign donors and donors to the Clinton Foundation.
            We’ll then end up with Libya and Syria repeating themselves, multiple times over. This, by the way, is based entirely on things she’s done that anyone who isn’t a partIsanti hack agreed she either did or supported.
            Yeah, she’s going to be fine, all right–if you’re an ammunition, paper, or body bag manufacturer.
            Look, you want to say she’s better than Trump, that’s open to question. Claiming that she’s objectively fine is an act of mind-killing self-delusion.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The reason she is more “fine” than Trump is the difference in their affiliated ideologies. It also helps that she has been around the public policy game for a lifetime. Donald, on the other hand, has been busy making money FROM counter-parties for a lifetime. Nothing against his free enterprise (for him)—-but EVERYTHING against his chosen party and its platform when he runs for this high office.

          • Tom

            She’s been around public office for a lifetime, and messed it up every time. Never mind the fact that, if you agree with her policies, that she’s going to betray you. Badly. And when you wonder why we’re so messed up, you’ll have no one to blame but you.
            Well, actually, you’ll find some way to blame Republicans, I’m sure.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I do realize that Hillary will do some compromising with the right. In some ways it will feel like betrayal and in some other ways I have to realize it is necessary. But the overall result will not be as bad as Trump giving the McConnell/Ryan crowd everything they ever dreamed.

          • Tom

            And if you think that last sentence was ever going to happen, I have a bridge to sell you.
            Kid, she’s going to betray us all, the whole way through her presidency.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Of course there is risk of Trump giving Republicans their wish list. That’s what he is there for and what he is promising. It is what every Republican is voting for. Why have you gone silly? I haven’t and you’re not taking me there.

          • Tom

            Because I’ve learned not to trust politicians, and because most GOP types are free-traders.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Indeed. So if you are skeptical of free trade, don’t vote for them. The idea that Trump is going to stop trade agreements or make them more people-friendly in any country is one of the silliest ideas that ever came down the pike. He is running in the wrong party for that kind of talk.

          • Tom

            Neither party is the right party for that kind of talk. Period. Dot.

          • Anthony

            FG, as a heads up, you’re interfacing with a declared under 25 year old!

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, I saw that the other day and found it a source of curiosity. As far as I have ever noticed, most people here are old—–or older yet.

          • Anthony

            I agree. Though precocity has virtue, life offers bountiful opportunities for the 20ish year old – beyond internet message board surfing, however enriching.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Truth be known, our comment sections could use more younger people. Most of them don’t have the time or inclination to be on these kinds of forums, it seems.

          • Anthony

            Not just TAI but our political and social engagements could be helped tremendously by the energy and enthusiasm of youth (not to mention fresh ideas -cutting edge perhaps). I’ve always been an advocate of involving young talent.

          • FriendlyGoat

            And then there was “Tom”, who either is or imagines himself to be the lobbying arm for Jerry Falwell, Jr.

          • Anthony

            How does it go: “from your lips to God’s ears”.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Perhaps. I have just spent a lot of time (probably too much) being hit over the head in these places by spokesmen from the Church of Politics. It’s enough at times to turn one (me) cynical.

          • Anthony

            I understand (truly I do) but you can’t turn cynical (then the cynics and naysayers neutralize a concerned voice) because your experience, wisdom, (and may I add religious conviction), passion, and insight (not here at TAI) leaves the field absent a contributing citizen in these most anxious and serious times!

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks for being kind. I’m not really going to become a real cynic. Figure of speech. I once worked for a couple, where the wife liked to say that certain things could make us “mental’. She meant mentally ill, but she always just said, “That’s enough to make you mental”.
            Maybe I’ll just go mental.

          • Anthony

            Again, I understand (and sensed that you were just venting but I seized the opportunity to underscore your value – and you’re welcome). FG, the sourness and paranoia (bred somewhat by economic stagnation and challenges of Globalization) reflected by the rancor at changes in our country’s way of life (for some) can be exasperating – and inducing of “mental”.

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