John R. Hawkins III
Eliminating a cancer of Africa, the terrorist group of Boko Haram, is a global necessity and has been recognized as such by President Barack Obama. For the complete elimination of a cancer to be successful, it is not enough to simply remove it; but, the host body must be prepared such that it does not return. Such is the plight of Africa and its cancer, Boko Haram.
After returning from The Republic of Cameroon a few days ago, where, among other matters, I have been asked to assist in the elimination of Boko Haram, it became clear to me that there are numerous important similarities between the existence of Boko Haram in Africa and the presence of a cancer in a human being.
Cancer is invasive and can be deadly, just like Boko Haram. Cancer thrives by overtaking weaker cells, while Boko Haram thrives on people with little defenses and lack of hope. A cancer must not only be removed but must be treated before removal and the body treated after it is removed to prevent its return.
Boko Haram must be removed in such a way that it does not continue to grow during the removal process. Equally important is that the people must be provided the security and hope of prosperity after Boko Haram is eliminated so that such a terrorist group does not have fertile ground to return and regenerate.
Currently the strength of Boko Haram is estimated at a mere 8,000 plus terrorists; not a large number considering the population of Nigeria and the central African countries of Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon have a combined population of over 250 million. The current situation then, describes a relatively small and early detected cancer that, if not immediately eliminated, will be deadly.
President Obama has positioned the United States as a big player in removing this cancer. Numerous military and civilian support has been provided to the African region affected. Also in the works is money to facilitate enhanced investment in the providing of support to the central African countries to provide a better quality of life for the people such that there is a belief in a positive future; thereby making it more difficult for the terrorists of the world to recruit.
From my foxhole, it is not only humane and the right thing to do to help eradicated Boko Haram; but, it is in the best interest of the United States to lead the way. It is not only important from a perspective of our own national security here in the United States, but because after personally witnessing the vast investment of China in Africa, we must enhance our efforts to be a reliable and sizable contributor to the country or be left out of the development of the many countries in the largest and richest part of our globe.
Maj Gen US Army (ret) John R. Hawkins III, JD, MPA is President and CEO of Hawkins Solutions Intl., a government relations and lobby company. His last military assignment as a “two star” was Dir., Human Resources Directorate for the Army world-wide and prior to that Deputy Chief Public Affairs for the Army, world-wide.