It’s a hashtag that has swept social media following the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in the northeast region of Nigeria last month.
But as search efforts intensify, and the Nigerian government signals it is ready to negotiate with Boko Haram – the Islamist militants who are said to be holding the girls’— some are questioning whether the United States is doing enough to aid international efforts.
Others question whether the support is too little too late.
During a segment on NPR earlier this week, titled “Is White House Doing Enough To ‘Bring Back Our Girls’?” critics claimed the Obama administration waits for crises, instead of proactively aiding those faced with terrorism.
“Unfortunately what we see here again is the administration again acting after the fact as opposed to having a coherent political strategy and foreign policy in place beforehand,” said Republican strategist Ron Christie.
“My main critique with the administration is that Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, refused to put this terrorist group –Boko Haram – on the terrorist watch list,” Christie said. “So if you have an administration that looks at a particular group… that has killed thousands of people…you have to wonder does the administration have a coherent strategy to winning the war on terrorism.”
In a Mother’s Day video address, first lady Michelle Obama decried the kidnapping in Nigeria. This came after she posted on Instagram a photo holding a sign with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
“When it comes to the kidnapping of children in Nigeria, it goes beyond criticism of public policy,” said NPR’s ‘Political Junkie’ host Ken Rudin. “The only question that some people seem to have is whether walking around with placards saying ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ is either too simplistic or almost an amateur hour in the sense that we’ve got to do more than just walk around with signs with a hashtag about this tragedy.”
Last week the United States put a group of 30 in Nigeria that, according to the White House, including five State Department officials, two strategic communications experts, a civilian security expert and a regional medical support officer.
This week, Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated: “With respect to Nigeria, our people are on the ground. I’m not going to discuss what mechanism or methodology may or may not be used in order to [help find the girls] except today we are committed to this effort.”
Officials fear that the girls could be forced into sex slavery, or will be trafficked to other countries. Consequently, the United States recently launched a drone mission with airborne surveillance over the Sambisa forest, where the girls are believed to be held.
Sources say it is likely that the U.S. is offering the Nigerians sophisticated surveillance and eavesdropping technology as well as satellite imagery.
“Our intelligence experts are combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a daily press briefing Monday.
A new video aired by Al Jazeera released by the Boko Haram group allegedly showing about 130 of the girls is being studied by US experts in the hope it might yield vital clues as to where they are being held.
In the words of Christie: “To paraphrase our parents, it’s a crazy world out there.”
-Christin Roby, @robyreports