Saturday, May 10, 2014


We all have our biases and I'm certainly have mine.  I have studied Russia and the Soviet Union since my undergraduate days.  The Soviet Union was what the US military was focused on for the first 6 years of my career until the fall of the Soviet Union.  Hence the events in the Ukraine have been of particular interest to me but have diverted my attention from another major story.

Allow me to share it in the way that it first came to my attention.  About two weeks ago, a female friend posted on her page a request for prayers for the girls held hostage by Boko Haram.  The plea did not make any connections for me and I went on researching Russia's actions in the Ukraine.  A few days later, a different female friend posted a link about female veterans supporting the girls taken by Boko Haram.  Not recognizing the reference, I was looking over how many time Russian aircraft and subs had been caught new the US.

More postings on social media about Boko Haram still did not get my attention.  I peruse multiple news sites daily but Boko Haram just hadn't caught my attention.  Then I came across this article.  According to the article, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. State Department repeatedly refused to add the Nigerian al-Qaeda affiliate group Boko Haram – the organization responsible for the recent kidnapping of more than 300 young girls – to its official list of terrorist organizations.  Oops.  The article goes on, "in 2011, after the group's mass-murderers bombed the United Nations building in Abuja, Nigeria, Obama administration agencies and more than a dozen members of Congress begged Clinton to add it to its official list of designated terror organizations – but the State Department fought it and did nothing." --Daily Beast

Ah, now things are becoming clearer.  Hillary Clinton has avoided entanglements over the Benghazi incident thus far.  The kidnapping in Nigeria by a group that Hillary and the State Department failed to list as a terrorist group is not something she wants to deal with.  Hillary of course is the de facto Democratic presidential nominee in 2016.  To have deal with these latest allegations, plus Monica Lewinsky coming out with her memoir at the same time, is not what Hillary wants.

So first back to Boko Haram for a moment, what are they about?

Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam which makes it "haram", or forbidden, for Muslims to take part in any political or social activity associated with Western society. This includes voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or receiving a secular education. Boko Haram regards the Nigerian state as being run by non-believers, even when the country had a Muslim president.--BBC News

Okay, no brainer.  Sounds like a Nigerian version of the Taliban.  So why weren't they labelled a terrorist group?  Well that seems to be the question and perhaps why the American media has been rather silent on the matter thus far.

Details on the kidnapping are also elusive.  Somewhere between 180-300 school girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram but the Nigerian government has not been able to produce names.  I'm no Hillary Clinton fan but the timing of this kidnapping, the lack of consistent details coinciding with the release of Lewinsky's book just seems suspect.

Boko Haram has the track record to prove they are every bit deserving of the title "radical terrorist group" and are responsible for over 900 murders.  But the Nigerian government isn't helping the. According to Voice of America, Nigerian authorities have said 276 are still missing but have not provided a list of names or other identifying details. For the most part, the girls' families have not released the names, either due to the social stigma of the girls being potential raped and thus being viewed by Nigerian society as "dirty".  At least some of the girls are Christian which is how this story eked out despite being ignored by the American media.

After weeks of silence, Michelle Obama finally spoke on record about this atrocity.  Interesting given that Mr. Obama father is African.

Something doesn't feel right here but I can't put my finger on it.  But I suspect it has to do with oil.

In 1958, Shell discovered oil around the delta of the Niger River.  As of 2013 figures, Nigeria is ranked 13th in oil production.  Royal Dutch Shell owns the oil and the Nigerian people only get a fraction of the wealth.  But even that small fraction comes at a cost.

Amnesty International, in its report, said the hundreds of oil spills reported in Nigeria every year are ruining the environment and putting human lives at risk. It said spills in the Niger Delta are the result of pipeline corrosion, maintenance issues, equipment failure, sabotage and theft. (CS Monitor)

Remember how freaked out everyone was when the Deep Water Horizon rig started spewing tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico?  Nigeria has been facing that magnitude of ecological catastrophe every year for decades.

The oil companies don't want diffuse blame but also don't want their oil production interrupted by by Boko Haram.  It is very likely that some of these oil interests persuaded the State Department not to label Boko Haram a terrorist group just to keep oil flowing.

Now we have missing school girls kidnapped by a group that big oil would rather appease than try to get rid of.  We have a government that is too poor and corrupt to deal with the terrorists.  And we have a weakened US government that is trying to pretend like it gives a damn about an African country that it has been happy to ignore until now.

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