Boko Haram has a lobby. Back in June 2012, William Minter of the Africa Focus Bulletin (allafrica.com) created a petition to not declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization. This raises the question: Who is this idiot?
A month before creating the MoveOn petition, Minter circulated a petition opposing sanctions on Boko Haram on the grounds that:
- it would "internationalize" a group that was already part of international al-Qaeda and getting support from all over the place
- it would show that some attention is being paid to counter-terrorism
- defeating Boko Haram would "undermine Nigeria's progress on the rule of law" because only the Nigerian state is responsible for human rights abuses, and only a Muslim may be the legitimate ruler of Nigeria
- it would impede "humanitarian" and "academic" financial support for Boko Haram
Minter's May letter is signed by these idiots: ( long list cut )
What's sad is that many of the people who signed on to this have spent time in Nigeria and ought to know better. I am reminded of an old quote about an idea being so stupid that only an educated man could support it.
I will propose a very, very low bar for analysing a strategic policy proposal. I don't care how long you've studied the region or how many letters you have after your name, but if your proposal would have a measurably worse outcome in terms of human rights and human suffering than Ann Coulter's proposal to invade and torture and kill everything that moves and convert any survivors to Christianity at gunpoint, you suck at peace studies and conflict resolution.
The expertise of some signatories dates back to the '70s, which means they have completely missed the rise of the new fundamentalists over the past 30 years, which means they are not experts at all. To anyone still under the impression that Boko Haram is an African problem arising from local conditions, I prescribe a reading of Revolutionary Sudan, particularly the parts about how the RCC managed conflict with Sudanese traditions.
There is a disconnect between the public and the education system. When close to 100 people who are specialists in their field take a position like this, it should cause a bigger dent in the public consciousness even if they are wrong.
Potentially related: see earlier.
Sourcewatch associates William Minter with Walter Turner, "President of the Board of Directors for several San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits, including Sound Vision, Global Exchange, and the Institute for a New South Africa" and producer/host of Africa Today on Pacifica Radio. About those groups:
- The Sound Vision Foundation is run by Abdul Malik Mujahid who was a member of the Shura council of the ICNA in 1999 and won the American Library Association's Outstanding Academic Book of the Year Award in 1990 for a book saying that all of the "Untouchables" of India should convert to Islam.
- Global Exchange is alleged, always by the far right and never convincingly, to be a front for Cuban intelligence. Then you look at the stuff they do and it's hard not to call them a front for Cuban intelligence.
- The Institute for a New South Africa, in Turner's words, "began in the 1980s and continued in the 1990s to build links between communities and city officials in the United States and South Africa" and "did not survive the 1990s", probably because the apartheid government fell.
I found nothing else to link Minter to Turner other than a few appearances of Minter on Turner's radio program.
The Union for a Better Nigeria, which is apparently one guy with a Facebook page, created a competing MoveOn petition to call for President Obama to publicly oppose Boko Haram. I can't tell you the specifics because the page says "Petition Not Available: This petition has been taken down." It is not clear whether it was taken down by the submitter or by MoveOn.
[Edit May 9] Someone at MoveOn took down the Minter petition. "The content of this petition is under review." Down the memory hole and pretend it never happened. Someone must have been embarrassed.
[Edit May 11] Examples of ongoing propaganda on behalf of Boko Haram:
- Nafeez Ahmed of The Guardian blames Boko Haram's attacks on global warming.
- Lindsey German of The Guardian blames Boko Haram's attacks on "the corruption and inequality that the west's economic war has helped to create". This may not be wrong, but in the exact opposite direction of where German is going with this. Signs point to the US, under the direction of Ambassador Johnnie Carson, engaging in an economic war favoring Boko Haram against its enemies.