Looks like US soldiers will be on their way to Nigeria. President Jonathan accepted the offer.
Since this is really going to happen, I truly hope the US is in and out. However, going by history, I know that the US rarely ever enters and leaves. They occupy.
It’s a matter of wait and see now.
Before I was open to this given the disastrous state of our military but after reading this great Compare Afrique article, “Dear Americans, Your Hashtags Won’t #BringBackOurGirls. You Might Actually Be Making Things Worse" and remembering the history of US military "intervention" globally, I’m very much disturbed now. The US military are also likely sending more drones into Nigeria and perpetuating the neo-imperialist cycle that we all know too well. This IOU will have to be "repaid" a million times over, and, as Jumoke Balogun of Compare Afrique pointed out, the mission of AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) is explicitly to “advance U.S. national security interests.”
There is no altruism there. There is nothing about the cherished, sentimental Western saviordom many people are clinging to right now. AFRICOM is there for the US and the US only at the end of the day.
Moreover, this is decentering the conversation away from accountability from the Nigerian government, which is now facing the largest mass protest movement we’ve seen in many years (that do not have to do with fuel subsidies).
[image description: Recent #BringBackOurGirls protests in Ibadan, Nigeria. There are thousands of women packing the streets wearing red geles and holding signs outside of a government building]
These protests are a watershed moment in Nigerian democracy, which directly confront the endemic corruption and the moral bankruptcy of our political leadership in Nigeria. But of course, just as momentum is continuing to build for accountability and reform, the “Western saviors” swoop in from above to #bringbackourgirls.
So not only are we making a deal with the devil who is sending AFRICOM in to “advance U.S. national security interests" with more drones and an increased US military presence on the ground in Nigeria as well, but we are also watching the West co-opt and decenter the conversation around #bringbackourgirls as well.
Teju Cole put it perfectly and succinctly here:
[image description: Tweet from Teju Cole @tejucole, “Remember: #bringbackourgirls, a vital moment for Nigerian democracy, is not the same as #bringbackourgirls, a wave of global sentimentality”]
Westerners across racial lines are missing the point. They are promoting terrible petitions to push even more US military assets into Nigeria, ignoring the brutal history of the US military industrial complex and pushing an agenda which in the long term will hurt Nigeria far more than it might “help” in the short term. They are ignoring the fact that Boko Haram (which loosely means, “Western education is sinful”) in its rhetoric is explicitly anti-imperialist, so adding Western military into the geopolitical mix just destabilizes the situation further and advances their long term goals as a terrorist organization. They are ignoring the actual needs of Nigerian activists on the ground in Nigeria, undermining this crucial moment for Nigerian democracy and making it about them and their sentimentality.
This is becoming #KONY2012 on steroids, with Western feelings and long term US military interests again taking center stage ahead of the needs and interests of Africans. The fact that the creator of Kony 2012 is now being interviewed by major news outlets about the NIGERIAN crisis is incredibly telling and should be a major red flag to many observers, especially given how incredibly problematic that campaign was and how quickly it was discredited by many Africans directly involved in the conflict.
All of this shows the incredible narcissism that lies at the heart of Western hegemonic power, that people across racial lines are making #bringbackourgirls about them and providing an excellent pretext and manufactured consent to push US neocolonial military interests in the region. The US military are not the bed fellows we want to keep under any circumstances. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. put it brilliantly when he said:
“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.”
As a Nigerian-American, I also am easily seduced by Western hegemonic power and dominance. I previously welcomed the movement of “limited” US military and intelligence assets into Nigeria, but I now remember so clearly that there is never any such thing as “limited” anything with the US military. And we are again watching the West and Westerns of all races co-opt and disrupt a crucial moment in Nigerian democracy and political activism for their own ends with their brazen militarism and advocacy for America’s global neo-imperialist agenda.
So, as Jumoke Balogun of Compare Afrique ends his piece, I will end mine as well:
If you must do something, learn more about the amazing activists and journalists like this one, this one, andthis one just to name a few, who have risked arrests and their lives as they challenge the Nigerian government to do better for its people within the democratic process. If you must tweet, tweet to support and embolden them, don’t direct your calls to action to the United States government who seeks to only embolden American militarism. Don’t join the American government and military in co-opting this movement started and sustained by Nigerians.