In July 2015, the US President, Barack Obama, acknowledging that then newly minted Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had a “very clear agenda” to defeat extremism, committed $5 million to fight Boko Haram insurgents.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump promised to sell military helicopters and light aircraft to assist Nigeria in fighting the insurgents. In July 2021, President Joe Biden delivered the first batch of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria.
And to help identify sponsors of Boko Haram and other extremism in Nigeria, Mary Leonard, America’s ambassador to Nigeria, promised, “That is something we are very eager to partner Nigeria,” and debunked fears that America might abandon the country’s fight against insurgents.
“I hear people making analogy about Afghanistan. It does not match up… That is a different construct… I don’t actually think the two match up,” she submits as she assures all that America is committed to supporting Nigeria to fight insurgency.
But many Nigerians take Ambassador Leonard’s words as if spoken from both sides of her mouth. They think America will board a time machine back to its pre-World War II Isolationist Policy days.
It is tragic that America, leader of the free world of democracy and free market economy, veritable “policeman” of the Cold War era, is acting in a manner befitting a nation determined to be an island of ostriches that bury their heads in the sand.
A friend wondered if America would close down the Central Intelligence Agency and Voice of America shortwave radio, and withdraw from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, vanguards of the free world.
America, master of propaganda and doublespeak, can justify whatever position it chooses on any subject. Like Nicolo Machiavelli suggested, the end justifies the means for Americans who say they neither have permanent friends nor permanent enemies, only permanent interests.
In insisting that America would invade Afghanistan to rout Al Qaeda that was sheltered by the Afghan government, then run by the Taliban, President George W. Bush declared, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts (of the attack on New York World Trade Centre on September 9, 2001) and those who harbour them.”
But in arguing for America pulling out of Afghanistan and leaving Afghans to the mercy of the Taliban, President Biden now argues, “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation building or to be creating a unified, centralised democracy.” So much from the leader of the free world!
Then, he throws in the kicker, “Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today, what it has always been, preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland,” because across-border terrorism is a crime while insurgency is merely the domestic headache of the country concerned.
As America airlifted its citizens from Afghanistan, it left unprotected Afghans to the mercy of the Taliban. Well, they also left disabled and inoperable aircraft at the Kabul airport, though some American Congressmen have accused Biden of leaving $85 billion worth of American equipment in Afghanistan.
Biden may have been encouraged to take this rather insensitive action by two actions of his immediate predecessor, Trump, who campaigned to be President with the theme, “America First.”
First, Trump withdrew America from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that was adopted by 200 countries to set a target of 2050 to 2100 for cutting carbon emissions to below 2°Celsius or 3.6°Fahrenheit and limit greenhouse effects to the level that trees, the soil and the oceans can absorb naturally.
In 2020, Trump bypassed the Afghanistan government and made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Counting the cost to America, in terms of resources, lives and limbs, Biden did not reverse Trump’s policy after he took the oath of office. He rather took an affirmative action.
Yes, of course, there is no more bogey man Communist Russia with its Warsaw Pact allies, and the world is also “flat” and practically unipolar, safe for the bludgeoning Chinese dragon that is spitting sulfur-laden fire with its cutting edge technology and money. There is a need for a balancing act, and America is the only nation that can fulfil that role – for now.
Of course, China has not expressed overt intent for territorial or ideological conquest. It looks like its immediate concern is to peddle influence and flaunt its affluence in the face of the world, to gain some respect and expand its market– for now.
America, with its antitrust laws, that discourage monopoly of any kind, should be the first to appreciate that no one ideology, religion, or interest should be allowed to dominate any piece of God’s earth.
To keep the world safe for everyone, including the Americans, every tendency must have a chance to thrive, and be expressed, without infringing on the rights of others in any part of the world that is increasingly embracing individualism.
Now, they are talking of an ISIS-K that is contesting state powers with the Taliban. Yet another group is contesting the political space with the Taliban in the Panjshur region of Afghanistan, just as women are calling to be given visible roles in the new government of the Taliban.
If an extremist group has access to, and has full control of, the resources and apparatus of violence, of a country, it could provide a safe haven for terrorism. The world, led by America, must encourage pluralism of the Afghan society.
Recall that the Taliban harboured al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, before he scurried to Abbottabad in Pakistan. Terrorists of any hue should have no place to hide or operate in this global village. The rest of the world will not be safe.
Remember also that despite the pompous claims and promises of Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair that the days of the Taliban were over, like the phoenix, the Taliban have risen 20 years later. And it bodes evil for the world. Other such tendencies now have an act to follow.
To rework a famous phrase from irrepressible Nigeria’s Afrobeat music exponent, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, this evacuation of America from Afghanistan is on the way to becoming an “Unfinished Business.”
When domestic insurgency festers and becomes cross-border terrorism, it may be too late for Biden and the entire coercive resources of the American state to contain. A stitch in time, they says, saves nine. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is just a few days away. Does Biden want a possible repeat of that disaster?
America shouldn’t repeat its negligence of Nationalist Socialism or Nazism, the terror that took over Germany and led to the needless Second World War that resulted in the loss of millions of lives, including the lives of six million Jews at a hell-on-earth called Auswisch.
If America does not want to go it alone, Biden should kick-start a United Nations-led multilateral initiative to deal with the Afghan problem. Poor, unprotected, Afghans must not be left in the lurch. It doesn’t portray the human race in good light.
Every man must look out for the interest of every other man, so that humanity can remain human and humane. America must play the role of a moral authority, or the world would go to the dogs of war.
– Twitter @lekansote1
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