Scholars urged Secretary Clinton not to designation Boko Haram a terrorist organization.First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted this #BringBackOurGirls picture on Wednesday.

Scholars urged Secretary Clinton not to designation Boko Haram a terrorist organization.
First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted this #BringBackOurGirls picture on Wednesday.

The problem has long been that the Nigerian government doesn’t always want or accept the help the U.S. has offered over the years. “There always has been a reluctance to accept our analysis of what the drivers causing the problems in the North and there is sometimes a rejection of the assistance that is offered to them,” (Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie) Carson said. “None of that has anything to do with putting Boko Haram on the foreign terrorist list.” – Josh Rogin [The Daily Beast]

AS THE human rights atrocities of Boko Haram out of Nigeria continue to garner big news, Josh Rogin reports today that Secretary Hillary Clinton chose not to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization when she was in charge of the State Department. There was significant pressure from the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, as well as senators and other members of Congress.

It comes down to the difference in theory of how diplomacy should be conducted, while respecting the tougher law enforcement tools that force an outcome, which is not in the purview of diplomatic pursuits and building relationships. Tough on terrorism types ignore that once enforcement triggers have been pulled, the natural course of engendering trust and working with governments and their leaders can make for a much more hostile environment.

It’s a fact foreign service members deal with every day: balancing danger with diplomatic efforts that at their heart depend on working through issues via dialogue.

What this particular incident reveals is that as much as Hillary Clinton is perceived as being a “hawk,” she actually is quite measured and deliberate before reaching for the stick.

In 2012, more than 20 prominent U.S. academics in African studies wrote to Clinton, urging her to not to label Bok Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. “An FTO designation would internationalize Boko Haram’s standing and enhance its status among radical organizations elsewhere,” the scholars said.

[The Daily Beast]

In case you don’t know what the designation of terrorist group can offer:

Being placed on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations allows U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to use certain tools and authorities, including several found in the Patriot Act. The designation makes it illegal for any U.S. entities to do business with the group in question. It cuts off access to the U.S. financial system for the organization and anyone associating with it. And the designation also serves to stigmatize and isolate foreign organizations by encouraging other nations to take similar measures. – Josh Rogin

Republicans rarely check the box for slow and painstaking, deliberate negotiations, because they don’t have the patience and daring for it. The truth is that diplomacy is not always about turning the screws at the slightest provocation, which is what Secretary Clinton was being asked to do, while she received pleas from experts to take another approach, which she did.

Had Clinton designated Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, that wouldn’t have authorized any increased assistance to the Nigerian security forces; such assistance is complicated by the Leahy Law, a provision that prevents the U.S. from giving weapons to regimes guilty of human rights violations.

“The utility was limited, the symbolism was perhaps significant, but the more important issue was how we were dealing with the Nigerians,” this official said, noting that three Boko Haram-related individuals were personally sanctioned during Clinton’s time at State.

Several officials said that the Nigerian government was opposed to the designation and Carson was focused on preserving the relationship between Washington and Abuja.

It was Hillary Clinton’s tweet that helped raise awareness to what Boko Haram had done.

First Lady Michelle Obama followed up on Wednesday of this week.

When the abductions began to make international news, Hillary Clinton stated that it was “abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible, first and foremost from the government of Nigeria.” Clinton also stressed that she’d had many meetings with President Goodluck Jonathan about getting tougher on counterterrorism.

One “former U.S. official” who spoke to The Daily Beast said Clinton’s response was “gross hypocrisy.”

After wreaking havoc through church bombings, Secretary John Kerry designated Boko Haram and the splinter group Ansaru as terrorist organizations in 2013.