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Vol 49 No 17

Published 22nd August 2008


Wasteful wars, foreign friends

A long history of failure does not discourage Western leaders who believe their intervention can improve conditions in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Yet judging from recent history, the capacity of outside intervention to make things even worse in the Delta looks assured. After the United States' stalled efforts at training Nigeria's military and Royal Dutch Shell's attempts at corporate responsibility, Britain and France have offered military assistance to tackle continuing violence in the Delta.

Offering military assistance to a country that did not request it is extremely bad manners, responded a seasoned Nigerian analyst after French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Premier Gordon Brown offered to send their troops to the Delta to stop violence and rampant oil theft. Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua reacted a little more diplomatically and thanked Sarkozy and Brown for their concern. He is well aware how desperate Western leaders are to get Nigeria to boost its production and exports by another million barrels per day (bpd).

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