In the Two Minute Drill, we explain complex issues in politics in 250 words or less (roughly the amount of words it takes the average adult two minutes to read on a monitor). Politics just isn’t always that complicated. Without the fluff and partisan bias, even the most complex of our political differences can be explained succinctly. This week: the Leahy Amendment makes it harder to #BringBackOurGirls. This is The Two Minute Drill for Friday, May 16, 2014.
In April, heavily armed Boko Haram militants stormed a boarding school in northeastern Nigeria and abducted as many as 276 shoolgirls. The Islamist group Boko Haram, which translates as “western education is sin,” has been stepping up its deadly attacks in Nigeria for some time, but the latest incident has captured the attention of the international community. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has gone viral worldwide, and there is an increasing push for the international community to step in and bring back the kidnapped girls to safety. But an obscure law, known as the Leahy Amendment (or the Leahy Law), might make that a much harder task than it otherwise might be.
The Explanation (250 or Bust)
The Leahy Amendment, which is named after its sponsor Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), is a 1997 attachment to a foreign aid bill. It prohibits most types of U.S. foreign aid and Defense Department training programs from going to foreign security, military, and police units credibly alleged to have committed human rights violations. The amendment was revised in 2011 to require the suspension of aid to an entire unit even if only a few of its members were implicated in human rights violations.
The White House recently announced a plan to send an interdisciplinary team of US military and law enforcement personnel skilled in intelligence gathering and hostage negotiation to Nigeria. But because of the Leahy Amendment, before this American “coordination cell” can set foot in northern Nigeria, they will have to certify that the Nigerian troops they’re there to help aren’t guilty of perpetrating human rights abuses.
That is likely to be exceptionally difficult.
The Nigerian military is a serial abuser of human rights. Since 2009, the Nigerian military has been widely accused of killing thousands of people in its efforts to destroy Boko Haram, many of them innocent civilians. In April 2013, for example, the Nigerian military burned an entire village to the ground and summarily executed scores of suspected Boko Haram militants. Simply stated, human rights abuses within the Nigerian military is extensive and systematic. Finding a military unit without blood on its hands will be difficult. If not impossible.
Word Count: 244
The Five Best Things We’ve Read This Week
Here are the five most interesting articles we’ve read this week:
- “Her name is Stacy Erholtz. For years . . . [she] battled myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She had few options left. . . . [S]cans showed she had tumors growing all over her body. One grew on her forehead, destroying a bone in her skull and pushing on her brain. Her children named it Evan, her doctor said. Cancer had infiltrated her bone marrow.” But then, in a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic, Erholtz was injected with enough measles virus to inoculate 10 million people. Within 36 hours, Evan was shrinking. Over the next few weeks, Evan disappeared, and so did the other tumors in her body. From The Washington Post: Woman’s Cancer Killed by Measles Virus in Unprecedented Trial.
- “I was weightless. We all were. Thirty-thousand feet up in a cloudless sky, our plan had suddenly pitched into a steep dive. I felt my body float upwards and strain against by seatbelt. Passengers around me screamed.” Kevin Townsend in Medium: Two Weeks Ago, I Almost Died in the Deadliest Plane Crash Ever.
- “The catalog of the walking dead also includes zombies that come from outer space; those deliberately created by Frankenstein bio-engineers; and humans that have been invaded by a pathogen that turns them into zombies.” From FP: The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse. Seriously.
- “All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship.” From The Independent: Found after 500 Years, the Wreck of Christopher Columbus’s Flagship the Santa Maria.
- “When the first M&M’s rolled of Mars’ production line in 1941, they originally came in five colors: brown, yellow, green, violet, and red . . . Then in 1976, the red M&M disappeared. For a decade., the color was nowhere to been [sic] seen in the candy’s packets, relegated to non-existences by incredibly flawed Food and Drug Administration research. The death and rebirth of the red M&M tells a tale of both governmental incompetence and the collective power of consumers.” From Priceonomics: Why Red M&M’s Disappeared for a Decade.
We were off from The Weekly Column this week. Looking for some more reading? Head over to The Archives, where you can find a link to each article published by Of Politics and Men since our founding in September 2012.