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Currently the Nigerian state is undergoing a civil war, with the protagonist being the Salafi-jihadi group popularly called Boko Haram. During the years since 2011, Boko Haram has morphed from being a local Salafi-jihadi group into a major player in West African radicalism. Its tactics have ranged from standard guerilla pin-prick attacks against governmental, military, and Christian targets, to sophisticated suicide attacks and mass slayings of target populations. During the period since July 2014, Boko Haram has clearly set the establishment of a physical Islamic state in Nigeria as its goal and has fought the Nigerian military to a draw. While there is some support among the US foreign policy community for proactively combatting Boko Haram, the Nigerian civil war is not one that commands much interest among Americans as a whole. Nor is it clear the manner in which aid for fighting Boko Haram could be rendered or what exactly would be the acceptable scope of such a conflict for the United States. I argue that there are only extreme circumstances under which the United States should involve itself in the Nigerian civil war and that thus far this conflict does not coincide with those circumstances. No US interests are touched by this war, vicious and horrifying though it is. However, it is possible that with Boko Haram set upon the establishment of an Islamic state there could come a set of circumstances under which this reality could change. While as yet Boko Haram cannot approximate the technical and propagandistic capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one should note that such is its goal and not underestimate the dangerous nature of this group.
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