Tag Archives: foreign policy

Will “Socialism” Save Nigeria?

POLITICS Editor Nathan Lewis Lawrence is a biracial graduate student, world traveler, and jujitsu enthusiast from Lancaster, Ohio. He received his bachelor’s degree in Security studies from Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio and received a M.A. in Peace and Conflict studies at the Department of International Relations at Hacettepe University. Currently, he attends the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Check out his personal blog Taming Cynicism.

 

Earlier this year was a landmark event for Nigeria. The Nigerian presidential election was held on March 29th and was an opportunity for violence in an already unstable political environment. Incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ran against the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) (a consultative member of the Socialist International) and former military head of state Muhammadu Buhari, but lost and ceded defeat on March 31st. Buhari’s letter to the New York Times immediatelyafter the election charges former President Goodluck Jonathan with inaction and suggeststhat this is “why the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was swept aside last month”. He promises to deploy more troops to north-eastern Nigeria to fight Boko Haram and advocates increased education services for the country’s population, quoting Nelson Mandela:“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This bears the question, can socialism and progressivism as articulated by Buhari save Nigeria?

 

The new president has a lot ahead of him.The colossal growth of the Nigerian economy due to oil speculation has lifted millions out of poverty while leaving others in what can only be called poverty. The Christian majority, residing in the southernmost part of the country, has disproportionately benefited from this economic growth as compared to their Muslim and northern brethren. This causes resentment not just based on religion but also based on socioeconomic status. Although Nigeria has great oil wealth, 70 percent of Nigerian citizens are unemployed and living on less than $1.25 per day. The north suffers greatly, with 72 percent of the people living in poverty, compared to 27 percent in the south and 35 percent in the Niger Delta.[1]This is the origin of Boko Haram’s anti-capitalist stance and its stance against western education. The organization makes the analytical mistake of lumping the state, large oil corporations, and Christianity into one entity. Can Buhari turn the country around with what he calls “true federalism” or is this just another left-ward sham like the Democratic Party in the United States or the Labour Party in the United Kingdom? Wide spread corruption in many case can easily be correlated to poverty, but this is especially true in Nigeria.

 

The election was the first of six in the region; therefore, it sets a precedence for the rest of the western Africa and it was not without deep controversy. The election was already postponed once before by six weeks and the International Crisis Group believedthis postponement of the election “seems to have been motivated by politics rather than security. Over the previous few months, public backing for Jonathan and his ruling PDP had shrunk.”This contrasts with the recent offensive against Boko Haram by the Nigerian Government. It could be argued that the postponement was largely motivated by the political ambitions of the election rather than concerns about the health and wellbeing of Nigerian citizens. As expected, violence did in fact surround the elections, especially in the light of over 800 people losing their lives in the 2011 elections. There have been reports of Boko Haram attacking polling stations. According to Al-Jazeera, at least 39 people were gunned down in north-eastern Nigeria the day before the elections, including Gombe state legislator Umaru Ali, as well as other attacks around the country. For example, there was also “two car bombs exploded at two polling stations in south-central Enugu state but did not hurt voters. Two other car bombs were detonated at a primary school in Enugu, state police Commissioner Dan Bature said.” In contrast, the African Union issued a statement declaring that the:

 

“The polling process was generally peaceful during the accreditation as well as voting       and counting processes, despite isolated incidence of violence reported in Bayelsa and    Enugu. Whilst crowd control was a challenge in a number of polling units observed, the AUEOM commends the security agencies for their professional conduct in upholding a peaceful atmosphere throughout the Election Day.”

 

In order to understand how significant the election truly was, there must be a deeper understanding of Nigeria’s political system. The ruling People’s Democratic Party is considered to be center-right and is in favor of economic liberalism. They have won every presidential election since 1999 and is the party of the current former President Goodluck Jonathan. In contrast, the opposition and the victors of the 2015 election, All Progressives Congress (APC) promote a more leftward economic platform that includes a push for free education. In fact, it is consultative member of the Socialist International, but any progressive worth his or her salt should be concerned. General Muhammadu Buhari, the new president of Nigeria, was briefly the head of state in the mid-1980s following a military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari; therefore, making his new presidency a highly controversial one. President Buhari is well entrenched into the Nigerian upper-class and is a career politician. Buhari’s commitment to anti-colonial efforts and economic reform should remain under our scrutiny.

 

Though Boko Haram’s analysis of the situation is fundamentally flawed, in that western corporations and Christianity are one in the same, there is a point to be made. The former president and many power structures in Nigeria are decidedly Christian. In order to fix the current conflict in Nigeria, underlining structural issues must be addressed but these structures are most accessible to traditionally Christian peoples; therefore, it is the responsibility of Christians to address the issue of poverty and economic disparity in the country.  For Christians in the United States, our response must not only include a focus on exposing the atrocities of Boko Haram and remembering those who died for Christ, but also remember His call to feed the poor and nurture the sick.

[1]Agbiboa, D. (2013). The Ongoing Campaign of Terror in Nigeria: Boko Haram versus the State. Stability: International Journal Of Security & Development, 2(3), 1-17.

Photo  Image: Photo was found on Flickr and is a picture of Nigeria’s green and white flag flying on a flag pole and over a black car.

Social Justice And American Exceptionalism: Responding to Vladimir Putin

President George W. Bush of the United States ...

President George W. Bush of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, exchange handshakes Thursday, June 7, 2007, after their meeting at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been meaning to write this post, and today is the perfect opportunity since our audience in Russia seems to be busy today.

People of Russia and South Carolina,

Last week, two major representatives from your governments commented on what makes the United States of exceptional in it’s history. As Senator DeMint put it (as only a Tea Partier with a white-washed, cherry-picked view of US history could do), “We are, in other words, a nation not based on ethnicity, but on beliefs, and not coincidentally, that is why we attract people of all ethnicities and they become proud Americans.” Well put, Senator DeMint, I am glad you got around to mentioning African enslavement and the white domination of First Nations peoples…..whoops, you didn’t. I am so glad you mentioned the 3/5th’s compromise or any of the relevant Constitutional Amendment dealing with chattel slavery and black people’s rights to vote. Oh ooooops. The argument that all people are created equal but not all nations are is problematic, and quite frankly, at the bottom just as racist as DeMint’s whitewashed views of U.S. American history.

Now, to Putin,

President Putin, I am so glad you are willing to be so critical of American Exceptionalism even though you were best friends with President George W. Bush, whose very legacy in domestic and foreign policy centered around American exceptionalism [re: superiority and cultural hierarchy, empire]. It took a President whose father was not involved in the Cold War like you to make you see just how wrong American Exceptionalism is. I applaud the effort for peace, that there is always a nonviolent option since war is never necessary. The non-necessity of war applies to all wars in human history. It is a human choice, but it is not the only choice we have, since we are all made in the image of God, we have the capacity to choose what is good, that of peace and justice.

President Putin, I must question a few comments you made however.

“The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.”

How can you say that the world’s relations has been stable? Was is not the Russians who invaded Afghanistan before the United States? Stability is a suspicious term, for whose stability are we speaking? The West’s? The Eastern Bloc? The task of colonialism in all of its forms is to destabilize others’ nations and cultures, so that in its stead, domination and exploitation can take its place.

I commend you, President Putin, for your concern for (international) law and order, and your dedication to the dictates of the United Nations. The US of A signed a treaty, therefore, it must follow that body’s rules and regulations. Speaking of international human rights, the United Nations has a Declaration of Human Rights that says in article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and that, according to article 2, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” No matter how monstrous you believe that the Chechnyans are, they are human beings and they do not deserve the injustices you have wrought on their population. No matter how disgusted you are with Pussy Riot, they have the right to freedom of speech. No matter your religious commitments, you have no right to abuse your LGBTQIA Russian sisters and brothers.

Indeed what Scripture has to say about what makes nations exceptional (or special) in YHWH’s eyes is completely different from how we understand it today. In fact, Scripture completely flips the Tea Party understanding of national exceptionalism on its head. According to Wisdom literature traditions, in Proverbs, it is justice that makes a land stable (see for example, Proverbs 29:4). One example of this is from the book of Daniel, with the repentance of King Nebuchadnezzar (an agent of colonialism, idolatry, and instability in his own right), where all of God’s ways are truth, and all of God’s ways are justice (Daniel 4:36-37). Every nation is capable of achieving this exceptionalism because our God is a loving God, and considers all nations equal and gives all nations equal access to knowing what it means to be special, that is just. Justice for the poor and the downtrodden, the following of the Golden Rule. This is the objective moral standard, the one of neighborly love that transcends nationalism.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
let the nations know that they are only human.

– Psalms 9:18-20 NRSV

Amen.

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Open Thread: That Was Supposed to be a #Debate on Foreign Policy?

If this debate was supposed to be about foreign policy, how come they kept going off topic?

Subjects that kept getting mentioned:

1. How much Mitt Romney loves teachers.

2. When Mitt Romney will start his trade war with China.

3. How Mitt Romney and President Obama will revive the economy

4. President Obama having to defend RomneyCare from Romney.

Did I leave out anything? Did this debate really focus on foreign policy?

Discuss.