Friday, January 9, 2015

Why so much French and not Nigerian?

Our Western sensibilities were threatened when 3 terrorists killed 12 French citizens in response to Charlie Hebdo's satirical cartoon.  The terrorists then fled and killed another French police officer.  French Special Forces have just dispatched the terrorists.  Checking CNN, Fox, and NBC websites today, you would would assume this was the worse massacre thus far in 2015.  You would be wrong.

Let's go back to spring last year, a relatively unknown group called "Boko Haram" kidnapped 300 school girls.  The news outlets all wondered how Hillary Clinton, while still the Secretary of State, had refused to label Boko Haram a terrorist group.  Obama and Kerry flailed around before deciding to send in Special Forces to help advise the Nigerians on how to locate the kidnapped school girls.

Then Daesh took the attention away from the news and the White House from Boko Haram.  The school girls still have not been found and while the terrorists in France may have made a bigger splash, their death toll of 13 pales in comparison to Boko Harams 2000 and displaced 1.5 million in just 2014 alone.

Boko Haram has started to make the non-US news sites again as the increase their activities in an attempt to disrupt elections scheduled for Feb 14th.  They just wiped out 10,000 (the estimated population of Baga, Nigeria).  You won't' see that on American websites and because of that, you could draw some really ugly conclusions.  Let's just say for now that minds are far more interested in three terrorists that may be linked to a group that may attack Americans compared to an extremely vicious group of nasties that for now are hellbent on killing their fellow countrymen.

But given that Boko Haram is a militant Islamic group, should we be just as concerned about their spread as much as we are concerned about Daesh?  The US is concerned (rightly) that Daesh has seized Syrian oil fields which produce around $2 million per day but the same concern is absent about Boko Haram which can control all of Nigeria's oil field (which produce somewhere 16-35 million barrels of oil).

Yes it was a horrible tragedy that 13 French citizens were killed by three terrorists who had a beef about a cartoon.  But why is there more coverage for this tragedy than the wholesale massacre of Nigerians?  Our biases in reporting often follow how intelligence assessments are focused.  If the news is all about France, trust me that's what the President is getting briefed on.  If no one is covering Nigeria (other than BBC), Mr. Obama is only getting sporadic updates.

Myopia is not only a disease of the eye, it is also a state of mind.  If we continue to have a myopic view of terrorism, we won't see the next attack coming and everyone will wonder why.

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