The Cruelty of Boko Haram Is Matched by the Incompetence of the Nigerian Government


The massacre of some 2,000 people—mostly children, women, and the elderly, reports the AP—by Boko Haram in Nigeria is horrifying:

District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when insurgents drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.

"The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous," Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defense group that fights Boko Haram, told The Associated Press.

He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies. "No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now," Gava said.

An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.

Over the past year, 10,000 people have been killed, according to Amnesty International's estimate.

The brutality of Boko Haram is matched by the incompetence of the Nigerian government. While I don't think the U.S. should be involved in this conflict, last year 80 American advisors were sent to advise Nigerian forces after the highly publicized kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls.

In December, the Nigerian military, which has its own long and disturbing history of violence, ended the training program without stating a reason (and even as reports that Boko Haram was attacking at will throughout northern Nigeria).

As deeply disturbing and metaphysically unjust as cases such as these are, they also drive home the limits of the United States to be the world's policeman, the recurring fecklessness of governments such as Nigeria's, and the impotence of trans-national bodies such as the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations.