The Campaign Spot

Obama Administration Advocated ‘Social Justice’ Response to Boko Haram

As noted in today’s Jolt, the worldwide concern and outrage over the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls is putting the spotlight on an awkward decision on the part of the U.S. government in the not-so-distant past:

The State Department under Hillary Clinton fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years.

For what it is worth, Hillary Clinton called the perpetrators’ actions “terrorism” in a tweet a few days ago:

And then there’s Michelle Obama’s contribution to the effort to recover the kidnapped girls:

Recall that Hillary’s persona, from 2008 to today, supposedly featured toughness and military hawkishness. But if you wanted to argue that the State Department under Hillary was . . . reticent and all too lax about gathering threats, you can point to Benghazi and now this:

The Obama administration has been critical of the military approach of the Jonathan government, which is dominated by Christians from the country’s south, in dealing with the insurrection in the predominantly Muslim north.

Washington has advocated a wider economic and social-justice agenda to counter the dogmatic Islamists and increase national loyalty among disaffected northern Nigerians. Jonathan has mostly ignored the advice, [Johnnie Carson, who was assistant secretary of state for Africa until last year] and others said.

Would “a wider economic and social-justice agenda” really have proven effective against a ruthless Islamist leader who issues taunting videos declaring, “I abducted your girls. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell”?

Carson tells the Post:

There has always been a security response to these problems, and that security response generally has been very, very heavy-handed — brutal in many instances.

A reminder of what Boko Haram is doing besides kidnappings:

Boko Haram members had gunned down or bombed worshipers in at least 16 church services in 2012. The group also burned schools, bombed newspaper offices, and assassinated Muslim clerics, politicians, and traditional leaders. In the first 10 months of 2012 alone, more than 900 people died in suspected attacks by the group — more than in 2010 and 2011 combined.

With foes like this, can you blame the Nigerians for being “heavy-handed”?

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