Nigerian security forces stand guard as demonstrators march during a rally to demand the government rescue schoolgirls abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants two weeks ago, in Lagos, Nigeria, May 01, 2014.
Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty

McCain pushes for U.S. troops in Nigeria

Recent events in Nigeria have shocked much of the world. Boko Haram is not only responsible for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls, but is also believed to have killed hundreds of innocent people just over the last couple of weeks.
It’s only natural to look for ways to help, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has decided to weigh in with the most McCain-esque response possible.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., wants to see more than hashtag messages voicing displeasure over the abduction of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram. He wants to see U.S. troops go into Nigeria and rescue the girls, even if it means doing so without permission from the Nigerian government.
“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without the permission of the host country,” McCain said Tuesday. Referring to Nigeria’s president, McCain added: “I wouldn’t be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan.”
As a rule, it’s not helpful for U.S. policymakers to mock foreign heads of state based on whether their names sound funny. Goodluck Jonathan isn’t “some guy”; he’s the democratically elected president of Nigeria. Would McCain be slightly more reluctant to deploy U.S. troops if the Nigerian leader had a name the senator found more appealing?
What’s more, U.S. policymakers probably shouldn’t be quite so cavalier about dismissing territorial boundaries of sovereign nations. Decent people everywhere want to see those girls rescued, but declaring the value of dispatching American forces “without the permission of the host country” tends to cause trouble.
According to the McClatchy report, McCain added, “I would not be involved in the niceties of getting the Nigerian government to agree, because if we rescue these people, there would be nothing but gratitude from the Nigerian government, such as it is.”
Last fall, Mother Jones put together a list of all the countries the Arizona Republican has eyed for U.S. military intervention. It’s not a short list, and apparently, it needs to be updated.
In the meantime, the Obama administration has already dispatched an American coordination team to help with the response to the crisis. It is not, at least for now, a military operation.