A sunrise that brightens hope in some corner of the planet sometimes exposes suffering somewhere else. Television displays grief half a world away with the brazen kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria by a radical Islamist terrorist organization. The plight of these girls tugs at the heartstrings of parents across the United States, and there’s no solution that says “made in America” quite like the power of liberty.
Boko Haram, an al Qaeda knock-off based in Nigeria, is picking on children. In search of headlines to frighten, Abubakar Shekau leads his terrorist band to attack schools, killing boys and kidnapping girls to sell as wives and slaves. Education, they say, is not for girls, and Western learning, which teaches women and girls to think for themselves, is regarded as the worst kind of education, because it’s rooted in Judeo-Christianity and it deprives men of compliant servants.
Michelle Obama was photographed last week holding up a Twitter sign reading “Bring back our girls.” Though they’re not actually “our girls,” her sentiment is spot on — the kidnappings in Nigeria are an affront to human decency. When the misogynist practices of Islam in Africa was to be the subject of Somalia-born Ayaan Ali Hirsi’s speech at Brandeis University the other day, the school’s administration bowed to the liberal left and disinvited her. On that occasion Mrs. Obama showed no interest in standing up for women, lest she offend an Islamist.
Americans are frequently in a quandary over whether they have a responsibility to venture abroad to protect innocent life, particularly when American citizens are not involved. Globalists call the kidnappings a classic case of “responsibility to protect,” in which the “international community” is obligated to intervene when a state fails to protect its own people from atrocity.
Traditionalists say the child abusers of Boko Haram, who do their dirty deeds half a world away from the U.S. homeland, do not constitute a threat to national security. “America,” said John Quincy Adams, “does not go abroad in search of monsters to slay.” Several of his successors have indeed gone on such quests.
While Abubakar Shekau’s videotaped taunts from the jungle are maddening, President Obama’s decision to refrain from action beyond sending FBI and military intelligence personnel to help recover the 276 missing girls is the correct one. If Americans have learned anything during the early stages of the 21st century, it’s that there are not enough bullets for everyone who deserves one.
The terrorism of Boko Haram is rooted in a radical interpretation of Islam that calls for a worldwide caliphate. Naive Western liberals refuse to acknowledge the danger of this virulent ideology. Instead, they take every opportunity to appease the Islamists as a show of their tolerance.
The abuse of women often goes unremarked, and the first lady conducts America’s foreign policy by holding up a sign like a panhandler. Tweets and “raising awareness” won’t save the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. Attention is precisely what the kidnappers seek.
As long as radical Islam maintains a grip on hearts and minds anywhere in the world, such barbarism in the name of Allah will continue. Inevitably, Americans abroad will suffer. The muddled U.S. policy in Somalia 20 years ago led directly to the disastrous retreat that emboldens our adversaries on the continent today.
When Thomas Jefferson was faced with the question of what to do about Muslim extremists taking Americans hostage on the coast of Africa, his answer was the creation of the U.S. Navy. Overwhelming force exacted a peace. At some point, there will be an incident demanding an effective American answer, and Mr. Obama will have to realize appeasement doesn’t work, and he’ll have to prepare the fleet.