Congress Issues Report Urging More Action Against Boko Haram

Despite admitting a total lack of evidence for any real threat posed by the Nigerian militant group, Washington is getting more involved

by John Glaser, December 01, 2011

A Congressional report says Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram is an “emerging threat” to the US and its interests, and justifies entrenching military and security interests with the Nigerian government.

“We ought to put much more into developing local intelligence and relationships, and more into cooperating with Nigerian authorities to encourage them to help us work together to understand the nature of the threat,” said Patrick Meehan, chairman of the US Congressional committee that drew up the report.

The report contains trumped up conclusions about Boko Haram, in a conspicuous effort to justify greater military intervention throughout Africa. “Boko Haram has quickly evolved and poses an emerging threat to US interests and the US homeland,” it said.

“While I recognize there is little evidence at this moment to suggest Boko Haram is planning attacks against the [US] homeland, lack of evidence does not mean it cannot happen,” Mr. Meehan is quoted as saying.

That didn’t stop the committee from inflating the threat from the remote and insubstantial militant group. Boko Haram, it said, “has the intent and may be developing capability to coordinate on a rhetorical and operational level” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Any tenuous aims by Boko Haram have come only after aggressive U.S. interventions in Nigeria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed in October to take action against the group, which had previously been concerned only with a narrow set of domestic issues. Then in November it was revealed that the U.S. army was sent to Nigeria and provided counter-insurgency training to Nigerian troops battling Boko Haram.

The aggressive postures and increased security partnerships with African tyrannies is indicative of Washington’s new war in Africa, following familiar foreign policy conventions applied previously, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East, to ruinous results.

The strategy is characterized by military aid to and reliance on brutish, undemocratic regimes, proxy militias, and targeted special operations as opposed to invasion and occupation. New war fronts in Somalia, Uganda, and Libya are a part of a renewed focus on Africa.

Through the Pentagon’s Africa Command, the US is training and equipping militaries in countries including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia in the name of preventing “terrorists from establishing sanctuaries.”

The pretext for the prominent escalation of military imperialism in Africa are these militant factions like Boko Haram, which pose virtually no conceivable threat to the U.S. Notably, the chairman of the committee that issued this latest report was rather blatant about the lack of threat posed. But signs are Washington is undeterred.

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