home Africa, Congress, Economic Sanctions, national security, terrorism Democrats Do Boko Haram Kabuki, Republicans Lead

Democrats Do Boko Haram Kabuki, Republicans Lead

The politics of righteous indignation is an art that has been perfected by both political parties. Just about any issue imaginable involving human suffering is ripe for the mostly didactic monologues politicos, some news folks, excel at when tragedy strikes. The socialist wing progressives of the Democratic Party are especially skilled at making the most of these situations.

While absent in trying to find solutions before problems happen, they are the first ones to spring to action when tragedy strikes. They express perfunctory condolences. They demand “action” to make sure that [insert tragedy here] ever happens again. Think, #BringBackOurGirls.  The kidnapping of Christian school girls in Nigeria by proselytizing radical Islamists is nothing new, nor is the reaction from the American Left.

Radical Islamists consider it a moral imperative to convert, but mostly kill, minority Christians populations in majority Muslim countries. In polite conversation in this town, one does not talk about beheadings, crucifixion, or forced conversions; we most of the elites to focus on the larger, more sterile-sounding equities such as threats to regional security or the violation of human rights.

For several years, however, Congressional Republicans have been warning that the Obama Administration needed to do more to combat the Congregation and People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad (a.k.a., Boko Haram). The beheadings, crucifixion, or conversions are reason enough. But those are symptoms of a much more bigger problem.

The Obama Administration has repeatedly ignored GOP requests to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization because it is politically inconvenient to do so. Remember friends, according to them, the war against radical Islam is “over”.  It is that same mindset that has Congressional Democrats dawdling about cooperating with the Select Committee on Benghazi. If the issue does not fit the Obama narrative or version of events, it must be a joke. I’m certain the family members of the Benghazi four think otherwise.

In December 2012 the Congress sent President Obama the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. This bill  included an amendment requesting a classified report, and strategy, be sent to the Congress on the potential security threats posed by Boko Haram. The Boko Haram amendment appears to be language that was proposed by Republicans, and not one Democrat, in several free standing bills going back at least one or more Congresses.

Based on a cursory review of other legislation offered in 2012, 27 House Republicans, not one Democrat, sponsored H.R. 5822; 2 Senate Republicans, not one Democrat, sponsored S. 3249. Both bills asked the Obama Administration to report to the Congress on the threats posed by Boko Haram in Africa as well as against U.S. interests. It called for designating Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

The Senate did not wait for the classified reports due under the NDAA, and in a few days after the President signed the NDAA, Republicans mobilized once again. This time they introduced legislation to impose sanctions on Boko Haram, among other measures. Over in the Senate, on January 31, 2013, 7 Republican Senators, not one Democrat, introduced the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013 (S. 198) expressing the sense of Congress that Boko Haram should be designated a terrorist under organization.

Later that fall, on September 27, 2013, two leading human rights defenders in the House of Representatives, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and again, not one Democrat, sponsored H.R. 3209, the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act of 2013. The Wolf-Smith bill went one step further that the Senate bill. It directed the President to impose economic sanctions in a variety of scenarios as well as requiring any U.S. financial institutions to freeze assets of people or entities with known ties to Boko Haram.

The back benching by the socialist progressive wing of the Democrat soon changed on May 9, 2014 when 103 Democrats, finally, put pen to paper and sponsored a politically correct House Resolution, not a bill, that was laden with perfunctory righteous indignation and “calls to action”. Why now? Because Boko Haram had posted video on the Internet taking credit for the kidnapping. They were forced to, do something. Generate a hashtag. Anything. Interestingly, and not by chance, the Democratic Party’s resolution never uses Boko Haram’s complete name, the Congregation and People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.

The Democrats were in damage control because, as in the case of Benghazi and matter involving radical Islam, the socialist progressive wing that controls the Democratic Part was wrong, again. The struggle agains these people is far from over. Even senior Democrats will admit, in private mostly, that the threats to the United States are on the rise. But, in Obama’s world, there is nothing a hashtag and Facebook page cannot fix so long as it does not pollute the politically correct, but erroneous narrative that the battle against radical jihadists is over.

In the case of the Nigerian government, those closest to the action, they treat Boko Haram as a terrorist group under Nigerian law. Republicans knew that, and much more. Republicans have been trying to lead while the Left vilifies and labels them “kooks” for trying to do so. And while designating Boko Haram is far from a panacea or cure-all, it was better than sitting on the sidelines and, essentially, doing nothing. It was a start. A law could have been on the books, along with a lot more foreign assistance to Nigeria, as far back as 2011.

The abduction of school age girls, to the Obama Administration, is an inconvenient reminder that the war against radical Islam is far from settled. The security of Nigeria matters to the United States. It is a key point, or should be, of the U.S. strategy in the sub-Sahara and North Africa to combat the spread of radical Islam. If Nigeria fails to contain the Boko Haram threat, and others, it can split that country and damage U.S. efforts in the region and beyond. As with the Benghazi terrorist attacks, the Obama Administration’s reaction to Boko Haram reflects a deeper issues within the national security team apparatus.

The Obama Administration and other progressive Democrats in Congress may try run from reality, and treat it, erroneously, as a law enforcement or public affairs matter. The law and public diplomacy only take you so far. There are other tools that need using, including the military and other efforts. African nations need U.S. help to stem the growth of radical Islamic terror groups as well as deal with those who support them. Republicans in the House and Senate have done the most they can to raise awareness. It is up to the President to lead.

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