Mali: we’ve seen this movie before

French Mirage fighter jet in Mali

It all began with the familiar rhetoric, “We’re going after Islamist terrorists” and with those magic words, the UK swung behind its neighbour, France,  in support of another desperate, but nakedly brazen, military adventure in Africa. The use of Islamists and associated “terror” groups to justify mass killing on an industrial scale is, by now, a familiar refrain. Indeed, the UN Security Council, on which France has a permanent seat, rubber-stamped the mission. François Hollande, the so-called Socialist Président de la République,  has revealed himself to be quite the little warmonger.

France enjoys wreaking havoc in Africa. It was quick to swing into action in the Central African Republic when the ostensible tyrant, Jean Bedel Bokassa, declared himself Emperor of his newly created “empire” (he was copying Napoleon I). France even has a military presence in Chad, a country that has a lot of desert and little else. It just happens to share a border with Libya.

Even though it ostensibly gave up its empire in West and Central Africa, France seems to spend rather too much time on the continent. It has a military presence in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and possibly Niger too. Niger being the alleged home of the infamous yellow cake uranium hoax.

It’s obvious why France is in Mali and it has nothing at all to do with “Islamist terrorists”, it’s more to do with the stuff that lies beneath the ground; the mineral wealth. Well, why else are European countries still exercising considerable influence on a continent that has been plundered and looted; its inhabitants forced to endure autocratic and capricious puppet rulers for the last 50 odd years? It ain’t humanitarianism, baby! Altruism is the last thing on their minds.

Britain wants a slice of the action too. We can see echoes in the Second Opium War, which was a joint military enterprise between the classical liberal British Empire and the newly liberal  Second French Empire, ruled by the vain and impulsive Napoleon III. Markets: they must be opened up – by force, if necessary. Yes, Britain is happy to provide military “assistance” because it wants a share of those riches – even though it may overstretch itself. Afghanistan?

Already, French air strikes have killed hundreds of civilians. There’s nowhere to hide in the desert and one group of people looks much the same as any other to the French pilots. If they wear turbans, gun them down where they stand. Better still, bomb the lot of them and save the bullets. The trouble is, a lot of people wear turbans in that part of the world.

This is another scramble for Africa. Desperate to relive the glories of 19th century imperial power and all the wealth it provided for the few, France is having another bash at the old imperialism game. A spokeswoman for the Stop the War movement, quoted in today’s Morning Star said,

The civil war in Mali is a direct consequence of the disastrous intervention in Libya and shows that the war on terror is a source of instability in Africa as in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Libya. Remember that place? It’s a total mess. And one mess leads inexorably to another mess. And messes can be used to the advantage of countries with massive military machines. They usually call this peace-keeping or a humanitarian intervention. Like the various aid appeals for famine-hit Ethiopia, the claim of humanitarianism rings rather hollow when weighed against the evident dash for the continent’s resources, backed up by the latest in killing technology.

The Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor warns of mission creep,

David Cameron has insisted that no British combat troops from the UK will be involved in operations in Mali. Britain’s top military commanders have no wish to join French combat troops there — a view they were expected to make quite clear at a meeting on Tuesday of the National Security Council, chaired by Cameron.

However, that may not be the end of it. Britain and the US could yet provide surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft or pilotless drones. The European Union is planning to deploy a military training mission consisting of several hundred troops, including British soldiers, to Mali in the next few weeks.

This could be the pattern of future European military interventions, as our blog has suggested before. Britain, France, the US, all know air strikes from high-flying planes or drones is not the most effective way, militarily (or politically or ethically, given the likelihood of civilian casualties) to fight mobile forces speeding around on pickup trucks.

So the emphasis is on training local forces, in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, and now Mali. They could be backed up by special forces, rather less visible than warplanes.

And mercenaries too, I shouldn’t wonder. After all, European and US mercenaries have been hanging around African countries for decades now. In 2002, the war criminal Blair chillingly told us how he would have liked to see mercenaries operate in a peace-keeping role in West Africa. Mercenaries only know how to do one thing: kill for money. Asking a mercenary to be a peacekeeper is a little like asking a butcher to perform keyhole surgery on a seriously ill patient. Why would you do it?

Finally, I need to mention arch-Blairite, Hatchet-job Hodges, who penned this blog, designed to goad and mock the left, whom he declares have “been silent” on the issue of military intervention in Mali.  As a “Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest” (the Torygraph’s words, not mine), he no doubt supports the Orwellian notion of “liberal intervention” and turns a blind eye to the war crimes associated with it. It seems to me he has no room to talk. He offers us this myopic vision from his crystal ball,

Francois Hollande is unlikely to emerge from his Mali adventure as the new De Gaulle. But he may well become the new Left-wing poster boy for progressive interventionism. It would be enough.

What a nasty piece of work. Just like his war criminal idol in fact. But in his haste to have a dirty little dig, he failed to spot this blog on the Stop the War Coalition website. Hodges talks shit, just like his war criminal idol.



Filed under Africa, Mali, World

6 responses to “Mali: we’ve seen this movie before

  1. Hmm, I think it’s a little too pessimistic of you to be so skeptical about French altruism. And also, I don’t believe your statistic about “hundreds of civilian deaths.” I have seen numerous reports citing locals who have said that the French bombings have been very precise and effective.

    • French “altruism”? In Africa? Laughable. If you dispute my figures, then perhaps you can provide some of your own? Have you ever heard of “news management”?

  2. For ‘altruism’ read ’empire building’

    • Exactly. I’ve been listening to Book of the Week on Radio 4. it was about the First Afghan War. In 170 years, nothing has changed. The Western Powers are now contemplating another embarrassing withdrawal. Now, they have their sights set on Africa – as if that continent hasn’t suffered enough. It makes me sick.

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