Keating is skeptical:
The return of the girls will likely require either a risky military operation or controversial negotiations, neither of which international attention seems likely to hasten. But it’s clear that the Nigerian government, which also happens to be hosting a meeting of the World Economic Forum and is clearly looking to present itself as an emerging economic powerhouse, is already feeling the pressure to prevent this from happening again. An international plan backed by Nigerian business leaders to secure the country’s schools was unveiled at this week’s conference, for instance.
#BringBackOurGirls—either the hashtag itself or the larger campaign behind it—may not end this particular crisis, but if it puts some pressure on the government to address the root causes of the country’s violence and make it safer for girls to attend school, it may yet do some good. Ultimately, however, experience tells us that international attention will fade quickly. The question is whether this crisis will be a turning point within Nigeria, and whether the country’s outraged citizens can keep the pressure on.
Laura Seay outlines what the US is doing to help with the search, and why she thinks it’s right to get involved:
The U.S. team will involve fewer than 10 soldiers and will likely be focused primarily on providing intelligence and negotiation support. This is a small effort, but it points to the United States’ quiet, but growing engagement across dozens of African countries facing a metastasizing terrorist threat. Nigeria is especially important: It’s by far the most populous country in Africa and one of its three biggest economies. Each year, America sends Nigeria $5 billion in private investment and around $700 million in aid, and it’s the 5th largest oil exporter to the United States. A million and a half Nigerians live here, sending millions of dollars in remittances across the Atlantic and maintaining close business and personal ties to home.
U.S. security assistance in the region is not charity; it generally aims to bolster African militaries, and for two main reasons. First, the United States wants African militaries to staff peacekeeping missions on the continent. Second, the United States wants regional governments to suppress militant groups like Boko Haram. Both of these objectives serve the U.S. interest in avoiding putting boots on the ground in Africa (a prospect for which the American public has had no appetite since the failed intervention in Somalia under President George H.W. Bush) while still addressing security threats and humanitarian crises—each of which the continent has in spades.
Canada is sending assistance as well, Ben Makuch reports, in the form of surveillance technology.