Failure of Intelligence As Foreign Policy
On Easter Monday at a CSIS event in Washington the top US diplomat on Africa declared, “I want to stress that religion does not drive extremism in Jos or northern Nigeria.” The 38 innocent Nigerians killed in terrorist bombings the day before during Easter celebrations would have turned in their graves but for the fact that their body parts were still largely strewn on the streets.
This is not the first time Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson has made outlandish claims that have no resemblance to any characters dead or living. Just a week before, ambassador Carson told a senate committee the same thing. The real newsy item was if he would revise his position given the multi-city Easter Sunday bombings that reprised the multi-city Christmas Day bombings. But “don’t interrupt me with the facts,” was apparently the good ambassador’s response, “while I stand my ground.”
The larger concern is not however the grotesque or morbidly un-empathetic tenor of the diplomat’s treatise. It is actually the more worrisome spectre of how the US could come to such a stunningly erroneous assessment of potentially the worst civil war that could conceivably emerge from Africa.
The summary of US policy is this: Firstly the US seeks to appease the aggressors that have unleashed mayhem on Christians and southerners living in the north by rewarding them for the violence. Secondly the US is petrified of rightly designating a terror group as a foreign terrorist organization for fear of offending the Muslim population. Thirdly, the US is pandering to and perpetuating a centuries old tribal hegemony that has been responsible for ruthless and cold-blooded jihads against minority tribes in pre-colonial times, in the modern era has suppressed democracy through brutal dictatorships, and presently seeks to abort the country’s nascent democracy. Fourthly the US is deepening the national debt to put American lives in danger by opening a new consulate in a violence-prone region.
For the US to do such horrid things as a foreign policy strategy, there has got to be something in it for the US right? More access to oil, right? Wrong. The current US policy direction seeks only to push Nigeria towards a Sudan-like split but with the US alienating the Nigerian South that actually has the oil.
“This couldn’t be,” you query.” You must be making this up. The US would never do something so unbelievably asinine, anti-democratic, unAmerican and most importantly counter productive to US’ strategic interest.” Well listen to the evidence yourself.
“Life in Nigeria for many is tough, but across the North, life is grim. A UN study shows that poverty in the 12 most northern states is nearly twice that of the rest of the country… While ninety-one percent of Nigerians across the country considered the April 2011 elections to be fair and transparent, most people in the far north backed opposition candidates that did not win. The post-election violence that occurred in several northern cities reflected strong dissatisfaction with elites who protestors thought controlled the election process… By becoming more responsive to the people, the government can put distance between itself and the accusations that it is blind to the needs of northern Nigerians,“ says Carson.
This would be nice but for the fact that he conveniently fails to mention that the very 12 states that he sheds tears for were they very same 12 of 36 states where hundreds of people were slaughtered and hundreds of churches, businesses and homes destroyed. Not once did Carson spare a thought for the dead (whom he falsely tagged as “elite”) as he was consumed with rewarding the aggressors. Nowhere in his comments did he indicate that the same 12 states imposed Sharia law – with amputations for theft – a dozen years ago instead of investing in quality of life improvements, possibly explaining the pervasive poverty.
Similarly Carson disingenuously posits that the federal government is blind to the needs of northern Nigeria. The same week Nigeria’s President Jonathan commissioned the first of 400 Islamic madrasas built with public funds in violation of the constitution in an effort to appease the north. This in a country where the federal government has historically confiscated Christian schools built by American and European missionaries and turned them into public schools.
But wait there is more. “To fix the Boko Haram problem, the government will have to develop a new social compact with its northern citizens. It will have to develop an economic recovery strategy that complements its security strategy. It will have to draw on the support of northern governors, traditional Hausa and Fulani leaders and local officials and organizations. The Nigerian government should consider creating a Ministry of Northern Affairs or a development commission,” he says.
Rather than suggest that Nigeria establish a ministry of homeland security modeled on the US’ own response to terrorism, Carson suggests that the Nigerian government should create the equivalent of a Bureau for Native America Indian affairs for Quebec even though they have produced more Prime Ministers in Canada! Carson in particular zeroes in on two tribes out of literally hundreds in Nigeria who have dominated political power in that nation over ¾ of its post-independence history.
“We want to elevate and expand our dialogue and are ready to work with Nigerian authorities at the national and state level and to expand our programs in states with high performing executives, particularly in northern Nigeria where the need is greatest.”
Finally, Carson indicates that US is opening a consulate in Kano to achieve closer ties. Nice huh? Well, problem is the US embassy in Abuja is not allowing ANY American officials travel outside the capital for fear of attack. It routinely issues advisories to American visitors that the cities prominent hotels are under threats for being “western.” Isn’t it a brilliant idea to place more American lives and property at great expense in grave danger at the height of a low-grade insurgency that has claimed more lives in one day than in either Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria in 2012?
The US scorescard in its own battles with Islamist terrorism is telling. US overthrow and occupation of Iraq has led to the decimation of the Christian minorities in that country – by about half of their population; in Afghanistan US tax-payer funds and arms have gotten into the hands of the Taliban and US-trained forces have killed American soldiers; in addition Muslim women continue to suffer under harsh Islamic laws.
Speaking on the real likelihood that Christianity could be wiped out in Iraq in this generation, the Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom in December 2011 admitted, “One of the big problems from the very beginning was that our country and others were unwilling to acknowledge that the fight in Iraq was largely a sectarian conflict and there wasn’t enough emphasis placed on the flight of Christians and other religious minorities, particularly in the northern part of Iraq,” to CNSNews.com
If failure of intelligence is an Olympic sport, then the dreamy team at Foggy Bottom have earned their tickets to London’s summer Olympics. If America’s appalling track record on the plight of Christians in Iraq is anything to go by, northern Nigerian Christians and moderate Muslims alike are on the endangered list.