That’s the question the Biden administration is worrying about in Chad.
The Biden administration is in a bind over whether to provide military aid to Chad, one of Africa’s most reliable bulwarks against the spread of Islamist militants and an opponent of Russia’s growing influence in the Sahel region.
Chad’s longtime president, Idriss Déby, was killed in battle two years ago and quickly replaced by his son, violating the line of succession laid out in the Central African country’s constitution. Now, the US government is struggling with the question of whether the ruling junta is too brutal and undemocratic to merit US assistance, or whether the country’s value as a military ally trumps those concerns.
There’s another interpretation of the situation, though, that seems more cogent to this ignorant Texan. That is that the question presents a false dichotomy. No, the reality is that without defense, there can be no democracy.
Without defense, the autocracy that currently reigns over Chad can become entrenched, or the nation can be overrun by the terrorists, whether Islamists like Boko Haram and Daesh-West Africa, or by elements of the Wagner Group. All of these are operating in the country.
With defense, though, Chad has a strong chance of both crushing the terrorists and making the current autocracy an aberration and returning Chad to democratic governance.