Somewhere over the Atlantic, there is an Islamic militia that has proclaimed an Islamic state. It controls territory in several countries, has kidnapped and murdered many innocent people, including Christians, and openly professes its disdain for Western learning. Despite the undeniably barbarous nature of this militia, no American politician of note has advocated using American air power against it, much less American troops. This militia is Boko Haram, which has spread terror in Nigeria and neighboring countries in West Africa.Share
Boko Haram’s ideological ally in Syria and Iraq, ISIS, has engendered a different reaction. We are engaged in a bombing campaign against ISIS that enjoys a high level of bipartisan support, and many politicians are clamoring for American boots on the ground to combat ISIS. The divergent response to Boko Haram and ISIS cannot be explained by different levels of barbarism; both groups are thoroughly appalling. Rather, the difference lies in geography. Most Americans see Africa as lacking strategic significance but reflexively regard the Mideast as vitally important.
It is time to question that reflex. As Pat Buchanan pointed out during the runup to our first war with Iraq, nearly a quarter of a century ago, our only vital interest in the Mideast is oil, and whoever controls the oil will be compelled, by economic necessity, to sell it on the world market. That observation is even truer today, as American production of oil and gas has increased and OPEC has lost much of its former cohesiveness. (Read more.)