Bodies lay strewn on the streets

Meanwhile things continue to get more horrendous every day in northern Nigeria.

Bodies lay strewn on the streets of a key north-eastern Nigerian town following an assault by militant Islamists, officials have told the BBC.

The Boko Haram group attacked Baga town on Wednesday, after over-running a military base there on Saturday, they said.

Almost the entire town had been torched and the militants were now raiding nearby areas, they added.

Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in the area, said that fleeing residents told him that Baga, which had a population of about 10,000, was now “virtually non-existent”.

“It has been burnt down,” he told the BBC Hausa service.

Ten thousand people either killed or driven away – that’s “ethnic cleansing” on a large scale.

The BBC includes tragic pictures.

Boko Haram was now in control of Baga and 16 neighbouring towns after the military retreated, Mr Bukar said.

While he raised fears that some 2,000 had been killed in the raids, other reports put the number in the hundreds.

Fleeing residents spoke of the stench of rotting corpses on the streets and surrounding bushes, he said.

That’s Boko Haram.


  1. says

    I wish I had something smart to say about this. But I am just stunned and disgusted.

    When the 30 Years’ War was ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, European states established the mechanisms for national self-determination; the idea that “things that happen in Mumblestan stay in Mumblestan” and that Mumblestan has a notion of a politically legitimate government and that government has, basically, rights over its people. This was an existing reality of human affairs: the biggest thug in any given area declared themselves king and got the biggest grifter with the biggest hat to announce their divine right to rule, and – instantly – they owned as as “subjects” those within the borders that they could establish with the swing of their sword. For all its flaws, todays “international system” is based on those ideas of national self-determination, which is why we have to suffer with the idea of “citizenship” and “national sovereignty” – a system that has actively worked to prevent the establishment of an internationalist order which would act to prevent wars and genocides. Because, of course, the big boys in the club (and today the biggest boy with the biggest club is the USA) can’t dis-establish their advantage; what’s the point of being the biggest thug on the block if you can’t thug when you want to? It is the ridiculous notion of “national sovereignty” which says that these people who are being slaughtered by Boko Haram are Nigeria’s problem, and that the rest of the world must sit around on its thumb while Nigeria handles it. Which, of course, Nigeria can’t (because if Nigeria could, Boko Haram would have emerged elsewhere) — the notion of a “failed state” also ties back to the Westphalian idea; a government must be able to control its people because, otherwise, it can’t establish its borders and is (basically) ripe for being absorbed by a bigger thug.

    The system is a failure. Nationalism is a species-ending threat, because it divides and conquers us against ourselves; our inability as a species to respond wisely to threats like global warming, overfishing, and nuclear proliferation is framed and reinforced by nationalism – the interest of “nations” not humans. The interest of nations’ elites, belike, not their citizens. The US has shown time and again that it has the energy and wealth to go bomb the shit out of someplace that has strategic value, but is completely uninterested in actually engaging in international policing. The US Marine Corps could clean up Boko Haram overnight, more or less, The US has no problem interfering covertly with the sovereignty of other nations, or, for that matter overtly with strong-arm tactics like sanctioning Iran or gaming the Ruble to death in collusion with Saudi Arabia… It is disgusting to wake up and find myself 50+ years old, having believed in nationalism for nearly 40 of those years and to have believed that the US was actually a force for the better for about 5 of the remainder. We humans have got to figure out how to get out of the context of nationalism, before we will be able to have a truly effective discussion about humanism: human rights, equality, hell, even fucking survival.

    The lie that governments tell us is that they are here to protect us, yet they manifestly do no such thing. The government of Nigeria, in principle, exists to protect those people. Why do we still believe in governments?

  2. says

    inept or corrupt

    That’s not an “or” question.

    It’s a depressingly typical post-colonialist story: a British protectorate until the 60s, then “liberty” divided on ethnic and religious lines followed by civil wars and military juntas. Oil wealth meant membership in OPEC and successive dictatorial governments more concerned with getting oil money out of the country into Swiss bank accounts than anything else. Some attempts at democracy have happened but mostly they’ve been pretend “let’s have an election and if I win, then I’ll step down as dictator and become president” but if they lose, the election gets annulled – typical installation of a “strong man” rule. The rest of the international community stands by with its arms crossed as long as the oil flows.

    It doesn’t appear that the US has been conspicuously involved in overturning any attempts at democracy in Nigeria, probably because those attempts have all failed on their own.

  3. says

    We need “sarcasm quotes” as well as “scare quotes” — I wish I had some way to indicate that when I wrote “international community” I spit the words out into my hand and wiped them on my trousers.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 2: The US Marine Corps could clean up Boko Haram overnight…

    Assuming a night of old-Earth creationist length. Why would you expect the Corps, if sent to Nigeria with such orders, to perform any more effectively than they have done in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or anyplace chronologically/politically in between?

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