My sister just posted an interesting article on Facebook, Nigerian government opposed to Boko Haram terror listing by U.S.
I think it sheds interesting light on the current flap over Obama's response to the Benghazi attacks.
Sure: There are more-or-less reasonable multiple interpretations of Obama's Rose Garden comments, and I'm in agreement that Romney's knee-jerk response was... precipitous, to put it generously.
Less generously, it was dickish. More delicately, however, the paper my sister cites serves to remind us of how, when regular Americans ramp up the political heat over terror, we may only be serving to betray our own limited thinking about the very real politics of terror—including a stark ignorance about fallout from such designations.
Continued, below the fold.
Nigerian Ambassador Ade Adefuye gives no less than three (count 'em!) reasons why an official U.S. designation of a domestic terror organization as "terrorist" hurts his country's efforts in fighting that threat. Here's the relevant excerpt from the release:
After briefing the symposium about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Nigeria, Adefuye said the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan believed that the U.S. administration adding Boko Haram to its FTO list would, first and foremost, embolden the organization by elevating its terrorist status worldwide, the Vanguard newspaper reported.Let's recap the three points:
Adefuye said a second concern of Nigerian government officials was that designating Boko Haram as an FTO entity would subject Nigerian visitors to the United States to increased scrutiny, embarrassment and humiliation from U.S immigration authorities.
Another concern of the Nigerian administration was that by labeling Boko Haram as a terrorist organization could lead to the United States using unmanned aerial vehicles to attack Boko Haram's leadership and members.
"We know from the experience of Afghanistan and Pakistan, such unmanned drones could lead to destruction of villages and people who are not directly involved in the activities of Boko Haram," Adefuye said.
1) Official U.S. "terrorist" designations lend cred to the targeted organizations.
2) These designations result in not-so-subtle recriminations against innocent Nigerian travelers to the U.S.
3) These designations have historically resulted in an "open season" for drone attacks, which have justly accrued a reputation for indiscriminate targeting, hence an emergent, immanent danger to the average Nigerian.
All this is good and instructive about the real-world implications of American "post-9/11" anti-terrorist policy.
But it should have one more salient side effect: It should serve to remind us that, when Tea Partiers froth and foam about Obama being a "soft on terror" threat to the safety of Americans, they're also betraying the fact that their mindset is a closed, inbred one—one that doesn't have a real handle on the true politics of terror.
Homespun political heat about "the threat of terror", and the actual implementation of terrorism-centered U.S. foreign policy are very, very different things. Remind your right-wing relatives, coworkers, and neighbors of this reality, early and often!