By Kathryn Chaney
A terrorist attack in Paris on January 7 left 12 French citizens dead. The global community responded by condemning the action of terrorism and immediately offering aid to the French government. Around the same time, during the week of January 9 Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks killing 2,000 civilians in northern Nigeria. However, the global community’s response to the attack in Nigeria compared to the attack in France was miniscule.
This response raises the question as to why there would be a greater global concern to a terrorist attack in France rather than Nigeria. The answer is a simple fact that no one wants to admit; France is a stronger and more important nation than Nigeria to the international community.
According to CNN, European Union members and the United States responded to the attack in Paris by expressing concern for both French national security and national security of other members of the global community. Even Putin made a statement offering Russia’s condolences and condemning the act of terrorism. However, none of the above parties responded with any great concern to the attack on Baga in Nigeria. Why would the major players of the international community be more concerned with the death of twelve French citizens than the death of 2,000 Nigerians?
The fact of the matter is, France is a major power player in the international community and has been for a long time. Since the Middle Ages, France has been turning the heads of their fellow nations. The power of the French monarchy was instrumental in the diplomatic and political strategies of the rulers of great powers like British and Spanish empires. France provided the means for the Americans to win the war against England. Then the nation turned around and went through their own revolution, establishing a constitutional monarch rivaling that of England’s. Today, France arguably is the only government to successfully combine aspects of capitalism and socialism both politically and economically in the modern era.
Africa on the other hand has never reached the status of having a major impact on the world politically. On the contrary, the current great powers have had more of an impact on forming Africa into its modern existence. Many African nations, including Nigeria, were once colonies of the Western world. After they gained independence, these colonies never quite caught up to the development of the West. Furthermore, these new nations often fell into the hands of corrupt regimes, leaving them vulnerable to the power and ideologies of organizations like Boko Haram.
While it seems that a terrorist attack in a country such as Nigeria is not completely out of the ordinary, an attack in France undoubtedly is. A terrorist attack in Africa does not directly threaten the security of the global community, but for the current major states of the world, a terrorist attack in France does.
In the eyes of the global community, if terrorists can reach Paris, what is stopping them from targeting London, Berlin, Moscow, or Washington D.C. next? Furthermore, with an attack on Paris, the citizens of the global community see their lives and the lives of their family and friends at risk.
Unfortunately, 2,000 deaths in Africa means more of the same conflict that has been going on for over a decade. Twelve Deaths in France creates a fear of the unknown.