April 16, 2011

The Rising Threat of Nigerian Military Might

In "The Spending Debate," Matthew Yglesias frets:
Large, regionally significant states such as China, India, Brazil, and Nigeria are growing faster than we are putting pressure on military hegemonism.

The most plausible scenario I can come up with in which Nigeria puts pressure on American military hegemonism is if President Obama falls for an email scam asking him to trade three aircraft carrier groups and a Trident sub in return for the $164,351,983.00 that has been confidentially deposited in his name at the National Bank of Lagos.

But I don't think that's going to happen.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Large, regionally significant states such as China, India, Brazil, and Nigeria are growing faster than we are putting pressure on military hegemonism."

China can become a major world power if it plays its cards right in the next 50 yrs but no such certainty.

India is a regional power and will remain such. But, I don't see it wielding much influence even in nearby Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Brazil can--again, if it plays its cards right--become THE military power in Latin America. Until now, there was no decisive Latin hegemon in South America, with power, more or less, evenly balanced among Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. But if Brazil gets its act togther, it can become the great economy and hte regional superpower--though never a world superpower. Argentina has this chance too but has been doing EVERYTHING backward.

The main problem of Nigeria is not military power but an implosion caused by internal problems, mostly tribal in nature. Why does this matter to US hegemony?
Because the US has invested heavily in the Nigerian oil industry. If a major crisis erupts and the Nigerian military is unable to contain it, US might feel compelled to intervene and 'keep the peace'. That is the challenge for US hegenomy in Nigeria and the surrounding region. Nigeria cannot THREATEN American hegemony but it can tax it dearly if we have to be the peace-keeping force in that part of the world. It will be many times worse than Iraq. Arabs may be nuts but they are civilized and may eventually calm down and come to the table. But Africans, once they start spiraling out of control? Help.

Anonymous said...

Look out! They're going to dominate subsaharan Africa! THEN what? They'll have a monopoly on...AIDS, I guess?

U. Lee said...

Don't count on it. This guy loves to bow to foreign leaders, write the US off as one of many participants on the world stage, instead of leader. Not to mention, perhaps the most damning of all, his desire to be "black enough" by bending over backwards to show solidarity with other blacks. I don't think the US would rise up to go to war against a sub-Saharan African country under Obama's watch unless they actually came here with planes and battleships.

Anonymous said...

According to Peter Biddlescome the Ivory Coast is where France goes to quietly negotiate with the crazier Arabs (thru some of the 300,000 rich Lebanese living there). I wonder what the recent shooting there had to do with al Qaeda in Libya.

Anonymous said...

Funny Steve, you made me smile.

Nigeria has a population half the size of the U.S, a GDP 1% the size of the U.S, and a defense budget 0.25% that of the U.S.

But just you wait until all those African Einstein's emerge and start pushing the boundaries of particle physics. Haven't you heard of the Flynn Effect?

jtg said...

Agreed, Nigeria will never be a threat. It probably won't even be country much longer. There's no way the Muslim north and Christian south willingly stay together over the next 30+ years. Let alone the huge tribal and linguistic divides.

India could also easily break-up. It's already broken up into 3 parts once. No reason it couldn't fracture again.

Anonymous said...

Nah, the real threat is North Korea if you believe Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a diversity thing. It'd be 'racist' if at least one African nation was listed in the 'badass' category.

It's like how boxing ranking listings sometimes include some nobody from a nowhere country as a top contender.

Silver said...

Agreed, Nigeria will never be a threat. It probably won't even be country much longer.

Nigeria is a "threat" right now, and will be whether or not it remains a country.

Nigeria's, like all of SSA's, population is growing at breakneck pace. Where do all those excess Africans go? To countries where they're not wanted or needed, where, when you get down to it, they can really only cause harm, but whose leaders adamantly refuse to prevent them entering and adamantly times ten refuse to make them leave once there, all of it bolstered by an intelligentsia that would rather lose an arm than allow frank discussion of the issue.

Anonymous said...

"Look out! They're going to dominate subsaharan Africa!"

I think the Chinese might disagree.

David said...

There may be a simple equivocation back of Yglesias's thinking on this subject.

"Growing" means what?

China, India, Brazil, and Nigeria are "growing." How? Well, in China the growth principally important to the United States is said to be economic. Ditto India.

Brazil? Well, a comparatively large quantity of South American production takes place in Brazil.

But Nigeria? It has grown IN POPULATION. Does this automatically translate to economic growth?

"Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black.[...] The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in the world, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009." (From Wikipedia; cites and later quotes there.)

Isn't this like saying: "The Hispanic population of the USA is exploding. Therefore, we project major economic growth in the USA"?

Lynn and Vanhanen calculated the average IQ in Nigeria at 67. No, Matthew, Nigeria does not intrinsically threaten the economic or military hegemony of the United States.

But let's peer into this somewhat more closely.

"According to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian GDP at purchasing power parity has nearly doubled from $170.7 billion in 2005 to 292.6 billion in 2007. The GDP per capita has jumped from $692 per person in 2006 to $1,754 per person in 2007."

"Nigeria also has a wide array of underexploited mineral resources which include natural gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy."

"At one time, Nigeria was the world's largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa, and palm oil and a significant producer of coconuts, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. About 60% of Nigerians work in the agricultural sector, and Nigeria has vast areas of underutilized arable land."

Another equivocation may be "a growing economy" and "coveted oil reserves." This would be the more misleading equivocation. Because: the extent to which coveted oil reserves are located in an underdeveloped nation is precisely the extent to which that nation is impotent on the world stage. It is forever on the bottom of a conscious and determined international hegemony.

So the fact that Nigeria's population is growing does not necessary translate into economic power, and the fact it has coveted oil reserves necessarily means it will be kept under a foreign military thumb.

Bottom line: Flip Yglesias's evaluation of Nigeria and you have the truth.

*(NB. They updated some of their calculations last year in a journal to which I don't have convenient access.)

Whiskey said...

It is not Nigeria, but rather Iran, Pakistan, and a few other nations in that area that have the formula: Islamic Jihad + political instability + factionalism + American Weakness = nuclear strike against America. There are a variety of methods, from ship-launched deniable platforms ("Not our ship, its a freighter!") to shipping containers to straight out ICBM launches.

The other threat Iran principally poses of course is using Nukes + ICBMS as a shield to pursue closure of the Gulf and dominate oil production. The Iranian regime would like very much to have $200 a barrel oil or much higher, and be the only country allowed (through military dominance of Saudi and Company) to sell out of the Gulf or even North Africa. Having nukes on ICBMs lets them turf out the US Navy and end US control of the Gulf a Presidential policy since 1943.

Whiskey said...

Let me add Steve's favorite Republican President, Ike, intervened extensively in Lebanon (committing 14K troops there) and Iran (overthrowing Mossadegh).

Nigeria is a joke, Yglesias is stupid. But Ike found Nasser and the Iranian communists not a joke at all.

If you like the economy NOW, just imagine oil over $200 a barrel (which doesn't seem too far off now does it?)

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Nah, the real threat is North Korea if you believe Hollywood."

And Nazi vampires, of course.

Anonymous said...

Yglesias is almost too good to be true sometimes. He outlined how we were being threatened by white, yellow, and brown countries, so he just HAD to throw a black one in there. He's created the first affirmative action national security threat. Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

whiskey said, "If you like the economy NOW, just imagine oil over $200 a barrel (which doesn't seem too far off now does it?)"

Whiskey you keep bringing up this topic suggesting our huge defense budget is necessary to keep oil low. Yet you never net the costs of keeping such a large military with the lower oil prices it supposedly brings. Also, you never consider that it is in OPEC's interest to sell oil because those economies do not produce anything else. If they price oil excessively, they will reduce their economic gain.

If oil is that important to our economy, and we all know that's true, then we should divert 20% of our military's budget year after year to develop true alternatives.

Somehow, I don't suppose neocons and guys like you would support that.

Question: Whiskey, if you could waive the proverbial magic wand and overnight create an alternative fuel to free us of our oil dependency, would you?

Silver said...

Yglesias is almost too good to be true sometimes. He outlined how we were being threatened by white, yellow, and brown countries, so he just HAD to throw a black one in there. He's created the first affirmative action national security threat. Hilarious.

Lol.

Diversicrats say the damndest things.

Anonymous said...

You say that Steve, but I am fairly convinced Nigeria is a disaster waiting to happen.
The only trouble is Nigerians think of it as their 'right' to move into Europe - and the Euro elites won't do an damn thing to stop them.
Another thing I'm certain about is that 'Europe' will cease to exist in any meaningful sense a century or two hence.

VG said...

Nigeria is a threat, but in a different way. Nigerian refugees will soon flood Europe, Nigerians already have a significant stake in the underworld drug market as far as in India, and further east.

Facelift Abroad said...

Bad news

Anonymous said...

Whiskey said:
Let me add Steve's favorite Republican President, Ike, intervened extensively in Lebanon (committing 14K troops there) and Iran (overthrowing Mossadegh).

Yes, in a sense it's true Eisenhower did send Roosevelt and Schwarzkopf to Iran and they did in fact end up overthrowing Mossadegh, but it was not an American initiative and it was not a move against a fledgling democracy as is often claimed.

Mossadegh (Old Mossy) was elected but as he consolidated power he disbanded the legislature and the courts. He had a dynastic claim on the crown. His tastes ran toward autocracy. His family was connected to the previous royal line before Reza Pahlavi.

He had become a very odd character. He was interviewed by the foreign press in his pajamas in his bedroom. Old Mossy was not popular there towards the end. The communists were active in the streets and his regime and life were in some danger.

So Old Mossy wrote a personal letter to Eisenhower asking for the CIA to intervene. He expected that the administration of Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles would just reflexively oppose the communists and thereby strengthen his tottering regime. But Roosevelt and Schwarzkopf thought that the young Pahlavi Shah was a better bet than this unpopular, and bizarre old man.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"Brazil can--again, if it plays its cards right--become THE military power in Latin America."

Why would they want to? I mean really, who cares? South American countries don't invade each other any more. So the only real use a country like Brazil would have with a lot of military power is to create a giant money hole of foreign involvements...

none of the above said...

Didn't we set up an Africa command under Bush? And since then, we've intervened in at least Somalia, Yemen, and Libya, with pressure to intervene in Zimbabwe and Sudan?

Setting up a bureaucracy whose funding and importance is determined by how much we intervene in Africa creates a whole big constituency for intervening in Africa.

And once we're in the mode of treating Africa as a place where we intervene, have extensive interests, topple governments, support friendly strongmen, etc., then yeah, a stronger Nigeria is a problem for us, because it means we need more forces to make sure we can overpower them whenever the players of the Great Game in Africa decide they want to do so.

An alternative might be to figure that Africa is far away and mostly someone else's problem, but that's the sort of proposal only made by non-serious crazy people.

Anonymous said...

They don't have to win. They just have to be able to kill a few dozen thousand American soldiers and no American President is going to want to fuck with them. And we will never, ever be able to face Nigeria with all of our might, because we deploy everywhere at once.

They don't need a military as strong as America's. They need something 10% as strong.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13123280

Democracy, demolishocracy, or tribocracy?

John said...

This weekend I got a call from a guy with what seems like a Nigerian accent saying that I won 4, 5 million plus an SUV. I hung up the phone and he called back. I told him I will call the police if he does not stop calling me.

They are progressing to cold calls from emails.

Anonymous said...

As a Nigerian I think Nigeria is not a threat to any country... I don't know ur level of assessment but I think u should assess again. Though our population is growing rapidly the military is not growing uniformly with the population, man this is not China. Godfatherism has eaten all aspects of the country's armed forces thereby preventing its military from growing as it is suppose to be. You said someone with a Nigerian accent called u. I really have no doubt about that and its not the fault of anybody cos corruption is d root cause of Nigeria's problems.

Anonymous said...

You talk about Nigeria as if you created this world, biting the fingers that feed you. Nigeria is in God's hands for your information and will continue to be by His grace. You can't play around with Nigeria. It's more of the spiritual than the physical. We don't need American soldiers or foreign forces in our continent and we are contented in God unlike you. Jesus is our All. Back off because we understand all foreign laid-down plans and strategies to ruin and divide us, but watch out because in God (Jesus), there's no division but greatness which we forever will represent and also be!

Anonymous said...

well,whether you like it or not,Nigeria is on the path to greatness,just give the country sometime and the world will see a new Nigeria.I believe in the country cos it has all the potentials to become a great nation.