The economics of terrorism, war, and security

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 2nd, 2014
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Lastly the activities of the Victims Support Fund in Nigeria as well as the required payment of allowances to recall our legislators to approve the president’s expenditure to fight terrorism are economic and funding issues and are really two sides of the same coin

IT was Chinese Communist Party Leader Mao who was credited with the saying that ‘a revolution is not a tea party.’ I hasten to agree with that timeless piece of wisdom today even though the word ‘revolution’ is not in vogue or currency, in today’s global politics and diplomacy. Yet, Mao’s long sighted definition of an insurgency or war against the status quo or establishment – which is what a revolution is all about, is quite relevant in considering the issues of war, terrorism and security that are confronting the world right now. In the US in Washington DC next week on August 4 , the 2014 US- African Conference coordinated by the US is taking place involving 50 African nations to discuss US partnership in tackling the menace of both Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Sahel and that of Al Shabaab in East Africa. The theme of the confab, the first of its kind, with more to follow according to the US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas Greenfield is – ‘Investing in the Next Generation‘. Also with effect from August 1 this week EU sanctions prohibiting finance for 5 major Russian banks came into effect with regard to the role of the Russian backed rebels in shooting down a Malaysian plane in Ukraine recently. EU nations have also banned arms sale to Russia as well as the export gas equipment to Russia. Russia of course is the largest exporter of gas in the world and the second largest exporter of oil and can cut off their supplies to the EU nations in retaliation . Yet the Europeans are punishing Russia because they believe that the Pro -Russian rebels in Ukraine shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane killing 295 people in a flight from Amsterdam very recently. Similarly in Nigeria, where reports on daily Boko Haram killings are the vogue, the news is that the government must be ready to foot the bill to recall legislators to come from their recess to debate the $I bn military expenditure proposal from the presidency. The expenditure is to buy new equipment and upgrade some for the military to confront Boko Haram and really this lawmakers’ demand for recall expenses is evidence enough that there is no free lunch even in fighting terrorism in Nigeria. Also Nigeria has launched the Victims Support Fund to provide for victims of Boko Haram bombings and their dependants just as the news broke that young girls of an age as low as 10 have been used to detonate bombs in Kano killing several innocent Nigerians. Starting with the US –African Confab this week in the US there is no denying that the concern of the US on the matter is a good and legitimate one to help Africa fight terrorism given the US exposure and experience on the matter. In addition the theme – ‘Investing in the Next Generation ‘ is quite apt although a bit futuristic and advisory rather than being pragmatic. The aim of the organisers, from the theme, is to show that providing jobs for African youths will make them less opportune or available to be lured by terrorists to join their ranks. My contention is that almost all the leaders from the 50 African nations at the confab already know this but are simply not doing anything about it. The US organisers should research for the manifestoes of the political parties of the African nations attending. These will show that these African nations have pledged employment for their youths during political campaigns and have been elected on the basis of such promises which they have subsequently not implemented. The US- African Confab should therefore focus on making these nations fulfil their election promises to their masses of unemployed youths to stem the high flow of such people into the recruitment ranks of real and budding terrorists. This alone will make a success of the US /Africa conference which I fully support. In addition I urge the US not to be distracted by hostile criticism that it is creating business and jobs for its military industrial complex or that it may even be funding terrorism in Africa. Such criticisms are based on Cold War animosities between leftists and laissez faire capitalists and such views are stereotypes to be ignored in the face of the new frontiers of modern terrorism, the containment of which requires urgent regional and continental cooperation and vigilance. Certainly the US Africa Confab is such a problem solving platform for the wave of terrorism unleashed on African nations by Al Shaabab in E Africa and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Next Russia has described the EU sanctions against it as ‘destructive and short sighted.’ Yet Russia has not shown any remorse on the downing of the Malaysian plane nor has it been able to persuade its Ukrainian rebels to allow international observers to have access to the Malaysian plane crash site. Neither has the Russian strongman President Vladmir Putin shown any remorse at least in terms of his body language in condemning the terrorist act. All the same the EU is not unaware that its 28 – member nations will suffer when Russia targets some trade links with EU nations such as food imports to Russia which is expected to adversely affect weak EU nations like Greece already in dire economic straits with attendant political uprisings and discontentment on EU financial palliatives. The EU nations are however united in their resolve that Russia should not get away with murder for its role in the downing of the Malaysian jet. The EU nations have described their sanctions as capable of inflicting the ’maximum pain on Russia’ and the ‘minimum pain on the EU’. That to me is vintage economic pragmatism in confronting terrorism at least in world airspace or global aviation. Lastly the activities of the Victims Support Fund in Nigeria as well as the required payment of allowances to recall our legislators to approve the president’s expenditure to fight terrorism are economic and funding issues and are really two sides of the same coin. The legislators can maintain their stand and call inevitably into question their sense of patriotism. The government on its own cannot watch idly while it is being made ineffective and toothless in the face bloody terrorism. Already there was news that the legislators have not been able to cash their huge monthly and quarterly allowances as and when due. It is therefore a ding dong tussle between the Executive and legislature although this time around the Presidency is winning the contest of wills in the court of public opinion as the death toll on terrorism rises on a daily basis and the law makers are not on their seats. Even the argument on diversion of funds for 2015 elections does not jell this time around. On the Victims Support Fund alone the personality of the Chairman of the Committe former Minister of Defence General Theophilus Danjuma speaks for itself in terms of accountability. Danjuma in accepting responsibility has stated that the insurgency is a war that is taking too long to put down. This week the Council of States made up of governors and former heads of state offered similar sentiments and went on to give a deadline of December for the war on terror to be concluded. That is how it should be. Surely, people like Danjuma should have been recalled to advise on how to end the war NOW. Rather than being called to raise funds for victims of a war they know is expensive and protracted in terms of time, and human lives while such people are being used to raise money for victims of a war without end running on a daily basis into an avoidable pyrrhic victory at the end, hopefully by December. It may sound wicked but to me putting all hands on deck to end the war is far more important than the opportunity cost of running the Victims Support Fund which seems to be a priority right now. Having a large such fund is like prolonging the war and that again is like treating terrorism with kid gloves or making money like a funeral parlour which is not in any way desirable in this nation at least for now.

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