#BringBackOurGirls: Obama sends in the drones
The United States has deployed 80 troops to Chad to assist in efforts to find the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, who are believed to have been absconded across the border. "The force, made up largely of Air Force personnel, will conduct surveillance flights and operate drone aircraft but will not participate in ground searches," the Washington Post informs us. While the deployment was announced by President Obama in a "War Powers Notification" letter sent to House and Senate leadership, the troops are actually there to maintain the drones—not to actually tramp through the forests in search for the missing girls. The drones are ostensibly unarmed and only for surveillance purposes. (Mashable, May 21)
Defense News reports that the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee has approved a provision in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) clearing the Pentagon to target Boko Haram—although it seems rather superflous, as Obama already has the power to do as commander-in-chief, and seems to be inching towards it (at least). We are told that the new NDAA also lays out $7.7 billion "for elite special operations forces," and "shifts funds from some programs to improve the readiness" of these forces. Although, the subcommittee added $20 million, shifted from other parts of the Pentagon budget, into the Southern Command—not the Africa Command—signalling a renewed focus on the traditional US "backyard" of Latin America. But the abducted girls and the Nigeria/Chad deployment are what's in the headlines, and therefore getting attention—including from the "anti-war" left.
The abduction of some 280 Nigerian schoolgirls in mid-April by the extremist group Boko Haram has been seized upon by the US, which has been planning military intervention in Nigeria for years, to ramp up its military presence in a country that is home to vast untapped oil reserves... The #BringBackOurGirls campaign, promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama in response to the abductions, is only the latest attempt to use humanitarian pretexts to further the strategic agenda of the US in Africa.
There's nothing untrue about this, but it is the most obvious, unimaginative thing you could possibly think of to say. Typically, the "anti-war" left displays no concern with the abducted girls—or, even more significantly, the terrifying rise of political Islam in the Sahel (and the Greater Middle East). And the WSWS statement does contain one egregious distortion: The #BringBackOurGirls campaign may have been "promoted" by Michelle Obama, but it emerged as a popular meme from below, by desperate and angry Nigerians—with whom the "anti-war" left demonstrates no solidarity.
The people of northeastern Nigeria, meanwhie, are organizing self-defense militias to fight Boko Haram. The militias have already killed 200 Boko Haram fighters, according to an account on Voice of Russia. Can progressives in the West possibly think of anything better to tell these folks than "Tough luck, shift for yourselves"?