While I welcome serious military intervention against terrorist groupations (it has happened as a response to request by Mali government, and is thus not illegal like intervention in Afghanistan or Iraq), I have my doubts.
First, much like South Vietnam, Mali’s armed forces do not seem to be sufficiently trained or motivated. Without ground troops – infantry in particular – you can’t win a war.
Second, as noted in article, France – which has intervened due to Mali President’s request – is former colonial overlord of Mali. Unlike United Kingdom during post-World War 2 decolonization period, France generally refused to withdraw from its colonies without fight. As could have been expected, insurgents have quickly chosen to capitalize on that fact for propaganda purposes. This move by insurgents is likely to be at least somewhat successfull, further eroding domestic support for Mali government.
Third, Western countries already have intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 – so far, results are lacking, which does not inspire confidence. Lack of results in Afghanistan is mostly due to international and governmental forces trying to control cities, while leaving countryside – where Taliban get most of their recruits from – without control. This could repeat in Mali.
Best solution would be for France and NATO to provide exclusively logistical and intelligence support, with possibility of on-request air strikes against insurgent positions with A-10s and helicopters. Ground troops should be provided by other African countries, with whom Mali people can identify, thus not giving insurgents any propaganda materials. In fact, article states that Senegal and Nigeria have positively responded to Mali request for military help.
5 thoughts on “News: Mali war escalates as French battle Islamist militants”
Your plan should be a perfect US plan: long preparation, huge destructions, low results, strong opposition. The French plan was to be fast and on the ground.
US always sends their own troops in, so no my plan is not “perfect US plan”. What I am worried about is possible political fallout of French troops being present in Mali; I believe that any troops should be from other African countries. However, as French troops are there on Mali government’s request (unlike NATO troops in Afghanistan) it might be that my fears are misplaced.
It’s scary how this seems to get bigger and bigger, the War on Terror. Off topic, but Picard, have you seen the documentary, Dirty Wars?
A bit inside what is really happening right now. Hopefully the Youtube link doesn’t get taken down.
Now a year and a half after you wrote this, it seems the French learned from the mistakes of Afganistan, they went in hard and fast, used their troops only for raids on confirmed Islamist locations, have not used drone strikes and have relied on the African led International Mission to Mali to the the Hearts and Minds part of the operation.
Yes, unlike US French are quite willing to learn from their mistakes.