First, the update on what is going on : ( EuroNews )
We have given two posts to Mali; a third is needed. After the rebels and the hardware comes the intent. Who, how and now why!
A couple months ago, France sought to have the Malian problem solved by Africans and now here they are, in a former colony.
What’s changed? The rebels got ready faster than the African force supposed to face them. That’s what!
So that when France got a call from Mali to help, they could not refuse. Even though it had done just that earlier in CDR, also an ex-colony.
The UN had already recognized the need; it’s just that the timeframe to overcome it had been overestimated.
The first moral hurdle, that of international agreement, the same that we cannot agree on for Syria, is cleared. The UK with transport planes and in respect of the Lancaster House accords, the US with surveillance and possible logistics as well as the Germans but without troops involved are backing the French. Algeria opened its airspace. In Africa, Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria as well as Senegal and Burkina Faso will provide about 500 troops each.
It then comes to mind to check for possible gains from the situation to be had by France in order to eliminate profit as a motive. That is a little bit more complicated but can still be answered. In general, what France gains by playing cop to Africa is that its ties to ex-colonies endure and the profits from that captive market are important. That is why France still has all these military bases in Africa.
What it stands to lose is already known : its remaining hostages in the Saharian region, some soldiers and attacks as promised here :
And a budgetary cost although that is often a disguised boost to the economy so …
Also note in that article the fact that the help call came from a Malian government which is itself the result of a military coup 8 months ago that de facto opened the “door” to the rebels and maybe deterred France from acting any earlier.
I am not sure how to balance the gains and the price so that I’ll call that one a draw.
If the morals can be then closed by the simple mention made here yesterday that it is different for the Elected Islamists of Egypt than the imposition of armed men, it should not be forgotten that President Hollande has a national opinion to contend with. It can be compared to Libya which provided a popularity boost to then President Sarkozy.
It is a sad part of politics but can be solved too thus : no French soldier lost his life in Libya while Lt Boiteux’s ( the helicopter pilot shot yesterday ) death immediately annulled the pure political gain of a “clean campaign”. Mali already lost 11+ soldiers and about as many civilians in the affair. The rebels 100+.
What the Libyan parallel brings to mind though is the long term risk assessment. Definitive Lapse of Reason covered the Libyan results a while back.
Let us remind our readers that we did not leave behind a unified Libya. Many towns are now half autonomous as Benghazi where the US lost a diplomat and Italy almost did too a couple days back. Regions also gained control on their affairs and national unity has not been rebuilt. Some of the very potent gear that used to be Ghaddafi’s is now in the hands of those very rebels in Mali making them tougher than expected as admitted by French officials. The full analysis can be found here and well worth the read :
Will the same occur here and in general? Are these last minute order restoration stints giving the proper results? That may very well be the biggest risk in this case too.
A group of people having chosen to impose their will on others brought about a smorgasbord of troops and equipment and politics to bear down without any certainty that the lives lost on either side and in the population will yield tangible betterment.
And you can guess it will happen elsewhere soon; such is the folly of humans, again both sides.
Good reflecting on it all and see you tomorrow for another topic, Tay.