Abrahms told IBTimes, “I think it’s very smart for the U.S. not to get too involved. It’s very, very hard to wage effective counterinsurgency and effective counterterrorism, and it’s particularly hard to do so in a foreign country, because the success of counterinsurgency campaigns really depends on winning over the population, so if you’re a foreign power, you know, basically occupying a foreign country will breed resentment and ultimately be counter- productive.”
It’s more likely, Abrahms said, that drones could be used, although he conceded they have had a mixed success rate against guerilla groups like Boko Haram. “Drones are more effective against very centralized groups, very hierarchical groups,” he said. Boko Haram is very decentralized, with no real leadership.
Any on-the-ground involvement from the U.S. military could actually strengthen Boko Haram’s stranglehold on the region and gain them more support, Abrahms said. The reason, he said, is the residue of Nigeria’s colonial past. American involvement could galvanize opposition among those who see the superpower as symbolic of colonial exploitation.
Abrahms also noted that the U.S. public appears to be entering an “isolationist period” after fighting two wars during the last 14 years. Americans did widely support getting involved in Syria or Libya, and intervening in a West African country “feels even further removed from U.S. national security,” he said. “So really, there wouldn’t be stomach among Americans for a more proactive intervention.”