Here’s a question. If — and this is a big if — the United States could dispatch a swarm of heretofore secret super-drones to find and kill every member of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, would you be in favor of doing it?
I’ll even modify it for those of you who are squeamish about killing terrorists who slaughter men, women, and children with abandon. What if the drones could simply paralyze the terrorists long enough for the U.S., or the Nigerians, or some duly authorized force of U.N.-sanctioned “good guys” to apprehend them? Would you favor it then?
I phrase the hypothetical question this way because it avoids some of the usual objections to the U.S. “imposing” its values militarily. Chiefly, it avoids the concern about risking American lives for causes that many believe aren’t in our vital national interest. It also avoids concern about civilian casualties.
So would you be in favor of it?
Oh, come on, Jonah. Why not just say, “If you could wave a magic wand and save all the girls held captive by Boko Haram, would you do it?”
But it’s a meaningless question, because there are no magic wands, and so speculating about the use of magic wands has no moral weight. If I were king of the universe and had a sooper magick wand, there are a lot of things I might do, too. But I’m not, Jonah isn’t, and neither is anybody else.
In terms of the reality of the situation, would I favor doing what we would have to do in order to have a shot at rescuing at least some of those girls?
No. And saying otherwise is lefty thinking. Nigeria is a sovereign country. If it wants to invite us in, that would be one thing. Even so, I don’t think we are morally required to solve every difficult problem anywhere on the globe. That makes us global altruists, which in turn makes us slaves to the needs and wants of the rest of the globe.
This is the heart of pregressive thought, by the way: Somebody, somewhere, is in trouble, and we have to do something to fix it, no matter what the cost in blood, treasure, law, or morality.
The group’s stated ambition is to impose an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, but it seems to me (and borrowing an old bit from Eddie Murphy) Boko Haram’s real goal is to avoid the long line to hell. When they see the Stygian bouncer, he’ll say, “Oh, you’re from Boko Haram? Right this way.” And then he’ll lift the red velvet rope blocking the express down elevator to eternal damnation.
Well, their belief is that your hell doesn’t exist, and their own actions are guaranteeing that not only are they not going to their hell, they are going to their heaven.
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