Sunday, May 18, 2014

Declaring war on Boko Haram...a good first step, but many more still needed

Paris: France and five African states "declared war" with Islamist extremist sect Boko Haram, after the group abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria.
During an anti-terrorism summit hosted by French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday, Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and representatives from Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin agreed on a mutual action plan to stop Boko Haram.
"We are here to declare war with Boko Haram," Cameroon's President Paul Biya told journalists at the end of the summit, which was also attended by the United States and Britain....
The participants at the summit decided to strengthen the exchange of intelligence information in West Africa, coordinate the actions of their armies and military missions in Africa, and increase border controls.
"These terrorists already caused hurt in the sub-region. Allowing them to continue will place the entire sub-region, if not Africa, at risk of disorder," said Chad's President Idriss Deby. (From Sydney Morning Hearld, May 18, 2014)
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French leadership on the Boko Haram front, African states agree to pool their resources to combat this radical terrorist threat. However, while the U.S. and Britain attended this conference, and both have contributed to the mission to find and return the girls abducted from their school, this is only one 'cell' of the menace that is encircling the planet and threatening to undermine political and economic, social and religious freedoms everywhere.
While we applaud this convergence of interests, and this pooling of resources, we continue to advocate for a much larger and much more sustained effort of all the world's countries, regions and intelligence, to resist and to eradicate the scourge of radical Islam.
We all know that already the movement has killed many, tortured many more, and continues to recruit, to teach and propagandize hatred of the west, picturing the west as evil, the Great Satan, as even some states like Iran are in the habit of doing. We also know that in too many civil conflicts, including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, and even in Egypt, the threat of radical Islam, in one or more of its many 'faces' continues to destabilize and to seek power to impose religious law on the people over whom they have control.
However, given that social and economic conditions in many countries leave millions struggling merely to survive, those millions are ripe for any kind of seductive and dangerous support in the form of food, weapons, attention of any kind and recruitment into whatever 'gang' promises a way out of the existence these millions are forced to endure. We know that even in urban North America, where poverty grows and hope wanes in many ghettos, those people are ripe for recruitment into something that promises protection and "membership" both of which are appealing to those with neither.
So when will the world's political and economic leadership come to the view that only through the co-ordinated efforts of all, to combat the conditions that make radical Islam a reasonable alternative to the kind of lives too many people are forced to endure, will this cancer be addressed, and clearly its elimination is very unlikely?
No one who is serious about the future of the world can stick his/her head in the sand about radical Islam. And no one who is serious about the goal of eradicating that scourge can ignore the economic and political conditions in which it incubates, festers and bursts like a noxious boil on the body politic. Only, it is more toxic than a mere boil; it is more analogous to a new form of cancer, one which, while some research labs have begun to study its root causes, has not produced a concerted effort to eradicate it from the planet.
Clearly, the promise of a world economy based on capitalism has not, and will not, alone, generate conditions that provide access to education, health care, work with dignity, and human rights that promise clean water, air and land to all.
Clearly, those with money and power (they are increasingly joined in all countries) want more of their booty, and could care less about measures that would offer opportunity to all. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet notwithstanding in their generosity with their philanthropy, the world's political leadership cannot rely on even a combination of such individual pursuits of help. There must be a long-term commitment (like the one we still cannot achieve on global warming and climate change) to address the obviously human scourge of radical Islam.
And, that effort has to start with an internal effort to address extremism in all faith communities. It is as if faith in a deity exempts too many from taking actions that would otherwise be deemed unacceptable. And others in those faith communities lack either the will or the perspective to see the dangers embedded in the attitudes and actions of their extreme adherents.
We have called for the moderates in Islam to work to remove the radical elements in their midst. However having witnessed, first hand, the radical elements in Christianity continue to attract new converts, without facing a concerted and effective antidote from their own ranks, we hold out little prospect that radical Islam will be controlled, let alone eliminated, through efforts by moderate Muslims.
New technology, linked to the nefarious and dangerous purposes of a world-wide caliphate of radical Islam, in which seeds of initial 'comfort' are quickly followed by chains of bondage in places where learning is barely taking root, and political systems are replete with corruption....these together generate a toxic cocktail of intrigue offering power, status and purpose to people whose lives lack all three. And, to think that the drink is concocted, prepared and offered in the name of any deity is so reprehensible as to make one wonder about the human capacity to resist such seduction.
The conference in Paris is one small step, albeit one in the right direction, toward a larger and much needed convergence of all the world's powers, to bring all the world's resources, including even new institutions comparable to the International Criminal Court (after all without criminal acts and intent, radical Islam would not exist) to bear on this monster, hidden in the streets of too many towns and cities, scheming to grab power however and whenever it might.
Perhaps when radical Islam is finally seen as a common enemy of all, as is the threat posed by global warming, and similar threats from viruses not reachable through antibiotics, the world will finally sit down and admit we do not know how to combat common enemies through collaboration, and that will become the agenda for at least several generations.


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