Friday, May 10, 2013

Nigeria's "Dirty War"

When counterinsurgency becomes too much counterinsurgency, it becomes a war - a dirty war that claims far too many innocent lives and leaves a legacy with the country it takes place in that is often difficult to erase. Such is the case with Argentina, whose "dirty war" in the 1970s led to over 10,000 civilians "disappearing", and such is the case right now in Nigeria. Boko Haram, the nefarious group of Islamic radicals who have targeted Nigeria since 2009 have finally struck a nerve with the Nigerian government, who is now fighting back just as hard, if not harder. The saddest part of all this is that neither group has benefited the Nigerian population at all - both of them are killing innocent civilians, and the fighting seems to be far from over.

The war between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military has claimed nearly 4,000 lives since 2009. The Islamic terrorist cell is an interesting study, as they are, unlike most terrorist organizations in their class, hell bent on attacking Westerners. In fact, the only purpose Boko Haram serves is to overthrow the Nigerian government, whom they perceive as being "false muslims"; the goal is to replace the government with one that will impose strict Sharia law.

The Nigerian military has been anything but productive in countering Boko Haram. Recently, extrajudicial killings have become the norm, and scores of dead bodies are being dumped at morgues all over the country every day - whether or not these individuals were part of the terrorist organization is never proven, but the military shoots and kills anyone deemed "suspicious" and experiences no repercussions from the government.

Unfortunately, this is the efficacy of terrorism at work. The military is very easily able to justify the recent slaughtering of civilians by claiming that Boko Haram members blend into their surrounding environment - a true statement. But while Boko Haram continues their bombing campaigns and moves forward with their terrorist agenda, it is apparent that, inadvertently or not, the military and Boko Haram are not waging a war on one another - they are joining forces and waging a war on the Nigerian population.

Counterinsurgency is something I'm often a major proponent of. With counterinsurgency, there are usually less civilian casualties than in conventional warfare, and by understanding the culture of a particular community, it is significantly easier to permeate that community and root out the insurgency without a whole lot of bullets being used. Counterinsurgency, when used right, has almost always been a markedly better tactic than simply dropping thousands of troops on the ground and waging full-scale war against an insurgent group.

However, there is such a thing as too much counterinsurgency. Nigeria is clearly tired of the incessant violence that is unwarranted and brought on by Boko Haram. It goes without saying that they have killed far too many innocent civilians in their attempt at a backwards government which would only further stymie development and would openly persecute females and gays. However, Nigeria's lack of patience and inability to successfully execute a counterinsurgency is cause for concern. Argentina is still reliving the nightmare of its 1970s - it would be a shame to see Nigeria go down the same path.

No comments:

Post a Comment