Editorial: Foreign engagement necessary

Jul. 22, 2014 @ 11:44 PM

President Obama made a tough choice on Monday. We agree he had to do something and will hope and pray his decision is rewarded.

Eighty troops from the United States are on the way to Nigeria’s eastern neighbor, Chad. The mission is to assist in finding more than 200 Nigerian girls kidnapped in the spring by Islamist terrorists. The troops have specific duties. And we as a nation are challenged by laws making this decision dicey in the international community.

“U.S. security personnel should be in Nigeria advising and assisting those engaged in the rescue efforts. Anything less would be insufficient in responding to the pressing threat that Boko Haram poses to the region and U.S. interests,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Royce. He’s a California Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Boko Haram is a terror group, militants trying to impose Islamic law on Africa’s most populous nation of Nigeria. We joined others in warning earlier they are a specific threat to Americans and other Westerners (“Boko Haram is another to defeat,” May 9).

Any group reportedly using preteens as fighters is dangerous. This one has many more ills, including a hatred of all things Western.

The troops Obama is sending are going into dangerous territory. Their support is in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, such as operating drones.

Royce hopes they do more.

U.S. support to foreign military suspected of human rights abuses is limited by Leahy Law. The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds of civilians in the war with Boko Haram, which translates to “Western education is sinful.”

Time is precious, with conditions of the kidnapped girls probably very poor, and given Boko Haram’s broad long-range target. Sadly, 11 of the girls’ parents have been confirmed dead since they were abducted. Their hometown, Chibok, has been under siege, believed to have resulted in seven fathers being killed, and four others having died due to stress and heart failure.

In time, the rescue mission will be just another chapter in the global terror war involving the U.S. There’s no let-up in sight. Strong action and precision planning is necessary.

And, we advise words of prayer.