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View Diary: Reports: Timbuktu Manuscripts Threatened By Mali Insurgents; Some Saved (221 comments)

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  •  which? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West, mali muso, terrypinder

    Which cynical reasons? Be specific.

    I yould suggest you follow the discussions in the French press. They actually talk in public over what they do and why.

    One of the things they discuss is that this intervention - and Hollandes africa policy in general - represents a break with French tradition. That french tradition was one of power play in the CFA - quite cynically, as you say: the traditional propping up of this or that tin pot chief in support of interests, quite often directly economical. Cynical e. g. when they militarily helped Idriss Deby to balst the democratic opposition to smithereens: quite recently. Even the Libyan intervention had the machiavellian element of turning against an earlier weened potentate.

    Hollande has renounced that, and has demonstrated that he isnt prepared to do that when just last month he refused to protect the Central African potentate against an insurrection; sending just enough material to narrowly protect French nationals in Bangui, otherwise telling the Chief that he was on his own.

    In Mali, France defends very narrow national (actually, European) interests: preventing that one third ig Europe´s (and Frances) periphery falls under islamist rule. You have to realize that Europe has three frontiers: The East (there is Russia, and whatever that means, a vacuum it is not); the Middle East (no need to explain that here), and then Africa. You may not be aware that Europe struggles since years with its unsettled southern frontier, which is a major source of immigration - there´s a veritable armada of boat people coming in, and they dont come from Marokko or Algeria, they come from Africa south of the Sahara. This influx has already brought the Schengen agreement to the brink of collapse - Italy and Spain are transit points, France and Germany are targets. We dont really know if we want this or not. Its half half. We benefit more than we care to admit. But the least thing we want is a wholesale destabilisation of the Sahel, and least of all by turning it into a maxi-Somalia. The better they fare in their states (Mali, Senegal being the semaphore countries there) the better for us too. Hollande had to step in, or face the prospect of failed states over  the whole southern third of Europe´s frontier. It is absolutely no accident that the British and the US immediately stood besides Hollande (although both are not known for being francophile). This isnt a traditional french CFA intervention, this is an international community intervention in which France has taken the initiative. That is what French press is debating: very critically in fact. Hollande has to defend against piqued questions of the French right-wing how he intends to follow through playing white knight in the benefit of all these non-French anglophones. Completely a different debate than people here would imagine.

    Of course they also have the post Communists -. Melenchon and the like - making fools of themselves, but that is par for the course; thats what it is France for.

    •  Power projection IS a cynical reason! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marsanges, mali muso

      From what I understand in your reply, Hollande wants to project power in Africa so as to not appear weak in front of France's right-wing, but is doing so under the guise of "humanitarianism". Mali is a nice target because it's in th middle of a civil war and it's going through a political transition.

       Who knows though? If France leaves without doing anything corrupt or trying to prolong its stay then I'll eat my words! :)

      •  Take you up on that! (3+ / 0-)
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        Gjetost, mali muso, terrypinder

        In fact that seems to be Hollandes major worry: Now they got in this, now how do thy get out of it again?

        because defeating islamist war bands is one thing - but that doesnt create a stable Mali again - No amount of French wishing can create that. Only Malians can create that. So now, the French are with their feet firmly planted in the sand trap the Islamists have laid.

        I dont know how this will turn out, but I am fully on mali muso´s side: the extremists had to be stopped, in the name of humanity, indeed. Now what? I haven´t heard any good suggestion on that yet.

        I hope we can get together to eat words, when ever this thing will have turned out somehow! Can we visit Mali maybe? one time in the future? It is said to be beautiful.

        •  Now we're getting somewhere! (2+ / 0-)
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          marsanges, mali muso

          We all agree that the extremists are bad for Mali. I'd be a complete jerk if I denied that, and I don't!

           It's very nice to know that you don't agree with France overall staying in Mali or intervening beyond this Islamist crisis. That's all I'm concerned about. I don't trust France, even with a Socialist president, because like the other powerful Western nations they have a history of colonialism and genocide.

           Once France has helped stop the extremists, I hope they respect Mali and leave. They need to leave and not do anything else. If they do that, then I shall procede to eat my words and let it pass.

        •  Treat you both to a cup of tea :) (8+ / 0-)

          In my adoptive homeland when this is all over.  My host father Madou taught me about Malian history, music, and the Bambara language over endless cups of tea.

          Until then, a view of the Niger River in Mopti, the Venice of Mali.

          •  my niece was there on a student exchange (1+ / 0-)
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            mali muso

            program and loved it and made a profound impression on her, she is going to try to work  overseas and  'try to make a difference'.
              She was dragged out when the revolt happened and she saw some of it. Kidnappings made the school bring them out.
            They visited Timbuktu as well, but mostly in and around Bamako.

            I was impressed seeing the African history in the faces of so many of the French troopers....

            This machine kills Fascists.

            by KenBee on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:35:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this comment. I really like hearing (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mali muso, marsanges

          about the debate going on in France and the French press.  I used to read some European papers when I had a bit more time, and it really shifts one's understanding to get more perspective from outside of the US.  

          The same goes for reading Latin American  and other sources (if not more so.)  But in this case of course France is particularly pertinent, so your commentary here is very much to the point.

          --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

          by Fiona West on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 07:56:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  maybe not power projection so much as (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gjetost, KenBee, terrypinder

        changing the ways and circumstances under which France will step in and use that power.

        I quote from anthropologist and excellent blogger Bruce Whitehouse (whom you should really check out if you want great analysis on Mali):

        It would be difficult to prove or disprove allegations of neocolonial or imperialist motivations in French foreign policy. Surely a great many French citizens and leaders harbor paternalistic sentiments toward their former African colonies, and surely there are economic interests at stake. But we do know that for over a year, the French government (under Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande) was extremely reluctant to intervene in Mali’s conflict, preferring instead to lend logistic and financial support to a West African regional operation. The imminent collapse of the Malian military last week at the hands of Islamist forces in the Mopti region rendered that option moot. “La Françafrique” isn’t dead, but times have changed: by all indications, Operation Serval was a last resort, whereas a few years ago it would have been the default option.
    •  I wish language was not a barrier (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, Jorybu, terrypinder

      It has been really eye-opening to follow this in the French and Malian press (and on twitter).  I wish I could link articles and quotes to my American friends but don't have the time or energy to translate them.  There's a LOT of layers to this debate and nuances that are lost when we hear only one side.

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