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By Idang Alibi
As we noted last week, given the relatively short time of the offer by the Americans and co and our ready agreement, it is apparent that there was not good enough time to think properly about the content of the agreement, if there is any to talk about in the first place. And given the haste and the apparent lack of consultation with a wide constituency, what is the guarantee that there is a proper safeguard that ensures that Nigeria has not mortgaged her sovereignty to the Americans in an attempt to fight Boko Haram, an enemy that no matter how long it even survives, will not do as much havoc to us as a foreign occupying army possibly could?
As a concerned patriot, here are some pertinent questions concerning the agreement, if any exists: How long will the Americans and co. stay here to do whatever they have in mind to do to ‘’rescue our girls’’? Will they continue to be here until and unless all the girls are rescued or does their mandate also include the understanding that they will help us defeat Boko Haram as well? If they try and rescue some and a few or even one of the girls is left, what says the agreement concerning such a possibility? That they must not live until ALL the girls are rescued? Do the Americans and co have a blank cheque or are there some little safeguards to protect Mother Nigeria?
If the mandate of the ‘humanitarian rescuers’ includes fighting our terrorism challenge as well, at what point will it be deemed that the war has been fought and won? I raise this query because as we noted earlier, terrorism wars are never ever won, or won easily at all, no matter how powerful the army fighting it is. And please let no defender of the horrendous mistake we have made parrot the nonsense that the Americans have given their word that no ground troops will set their boots on Nigerian soil.
‘’The Americans have said that there will be no boots on the ground’’, someone high up in our government said confidently as if he was volunteering a particularly great piece of wisdom. He said this as if the Americans or anybody else White or Brown cannot lie and when some of us know that they lie all the time in the name of statecraft or national interest to get their way. I see in that clearly misplaced assurance the type an old, experienced and foxy Casanova offers to a naïve, young girl he is about to seduce: ‘’don’t worry babe, I will do nothing dangerous to you’’ and if she succumbs, she ends up with an unwanted pregnancy!
What I am trying to do here is to draw our attention to the ‘’small prints’’ that are always ever present in the agreements we often sign with these people. If there is the promise that there will be no American ground troops’ boots on the ground now, what is the assurance that later on, circumstances cannot be contrived to justify the invitation of ground troops in form of the ‘’45, 000 advisers’’ the Americans sent to Vietnam in the 60s supposedly to help President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam to stave off communists’ onslaught?
I am shocked, depressed and dismayed by the haste of our unquestioned acceptance of the offer of help as if we have no lessons of history to learn from. We have the experience of Vietnam and other places where American offer of humanitarian intervention sounds so harmless because it looks like a quick intervention mission but which eventually becomes a long drawn out war with devastating consequences for the country. They end up digging in for a long haul and when they eventually leave, the country becomes worse than if they had not come.
That is why one of the titles I had in mind for this piece was Have Nigerians Heard of Madame Nhu of Vietnam? For those who do not know the woman in world history who became popularly known as Madame Nhu (real name:Tr?n L? Xuân) (22 August 1924 – 24 April 2011), let me tell them as well as draw a lesson from her and her country in the hands of the Americans. Madame Nhu was the de facto First Lady of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1963. She was the wife of Ngô ?ình Nhu who was the brother and chief adviser to President Ngô ?ình Di?m. As Di?m was a lifelong bachelor, and because she and her family lived in the president’s palace, she was considered to be the first lady. Madame Nhu was a brilliant, proud and patriotic Vietnamese who loathed the communists and when the Americans offered to help the Ngo family to rid the country of them, they accepted the offer; just as much as we have done now in the case of Boko Haram.
In any relationship, no matter how cordial it began, there are bound to be differences. As time went on, there were frequent disagreements between the American ‘helpers’ and the ‘helped’ Vietnamese. At one time the assertive Madame Nhu who was well known for frequently talking very candidly and undiplomatically to the Vietnamese, French and foreign press, was quoted berating the U.S. military advisors as “acting like little soldiers of fortunes”. It became so bad that at another time, Madame Nhu called on her brother-in-law president to “keep vigilance on… those inclined to take Viet Nam for a satellite of a foreign power or organization’’(referring of course to the Americans).
The long and short of the uneasy relationship between the Americans and the Vietnamese was that on November 2, 1963, the Americans sponsored a coup against the Ngo ruling family that killed President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother adviser Ngo Dinh Nhu, husband of Madame Nhu while the Madame was in the USA on a speaking tour.
Wikipedia tells us the rest of the story: ‘’In response to the killings of Di?m and Nhu, she immediately accused the United States, saying “Whoever has the Americans as allies does not need enemies”, and that “No coup can erupt without American incitement and backing”. She went on to predict a bleak future for Vietnam and said that, by being involved in the coup, the troubles of the United States in Vietnam were just beginning. History records that she was vindicated.
I have not chosen to become Madame Nhu of Vietnam nor do I want my prophecy vindicated but as a learner from history, I have a sneaky feeling that the Americans and co will betray us because they are not here to deliver us from our enemy but to advance their national interest only. As far as I am concerned Boko Haram is a better enemy than the American friends we have allowed into our country. I believe that with time, our army, if it is properly trained, oriented and equipped, will defeat Boko Haram. But if we allow hired mercenaries who are actually ‘’little soldiers of fortunes’’ to help us defeat Boko Haram, we will have achieved only a Pyrrhic victory, a victory that will prove too costly for our national health. Concluded.
Article written by Idang Alibi
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