Fighting Boko Haram

First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday released a video stating that she and her family were “outraged and heartbroken” by the mass kidnapping of more than 200 girls from their school in Nigeria. A militant Islamic group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. Despite threats that they would sell the girls into slavery if the West intervened, President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced they would provide military and humanitarian assistance to the Nigerian government as it struggles to address the crisis.

Boko Haram’s primary goal is to establish an Islamic state free from Western influences in the northern part of Nigeria. The group is believed to be responsible for more than 10,000 deaths in Nigeria, but has limited influence outside the country.

The most recent round of kidnappings have provoked a sharp response, and the #BringBackOurGirls twitter campaign has garnered support from a wide variety of Hollywood stars,  professional athletes, music and recording artists, and celebrities. But US and British intervention in Nigeria could provoke a sharp response and have unintended consequences, further destabilizing the Nigerian government and leading to an increase in domestic support for radical elements.

What do you think? Should the United States intervene in Nigeria to address the rise of Boko Haram? Why? What kind of action, if any, do you think the United States should take? Can Western intervention be successful? Why?


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