Jan
26
2013

Our unfolding adventure in Mali.

These three quotes, when taken in all at once, seem to somehow resonate.

Byron York wants you to read the two NYT pieces in reverse order than I do… which pretty much illustrates the current foreign policy disagreement in the Republican party.  Byron presumably wants people to note that we’re being drawn into intervening in Mali despite the fact that the country is falling apart, and he presumably is against intervention on those grounds; I want people to note that Mali is at least falling apart because we – and by ‘we’ I mean ‘the Obama administration’ – messed up our commitments there, and now an actual American ally* is going in their to clean it up.

I’m sympathetic to Byron’s tacit argument, by the way: there’s an argument for staying out of this, or at least making the French pay through the nose for our help.  After all, Mali was a former French colony, and there’s an aspect of foreign French policy that treated decolonization as an amusing Anglophone conceit that, alas, had to be humored in public.  If they want to use our stuff, why not charge all that the market will bear? …I don’t quite take that position because I still have that nagging feeling that even our inconvenient promises should be kept.  Which is, admittedly, not always the optimum attitude to have when it comes to national security.

Well, at least both Byron York and I (probably) agree with Andrew Malcolm that Barack Obama is a tin-eared bumbler with delusions of competence.

Moe Lane

*No, really, they are.  Trust me: the French find this as onerous as we do, but we’re kind of stuck with each other at this point.

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3 Comments

  • acat says:

    Out of curiosity, Moe, what did the French get out of our .. “kinetic activity” in Libya?
    .
    I know Italy got a good bit of oil wealth… didn’t the former Gadaffy own something over 5% of *all* bank deposits in Italy?
    .
    If true, then .. I’m not opposed to giving the French the same kind of support they gave us in Libya.
    .
    Mew

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    I am a jerk. I am also technically a Republican.
    .
    I dunno about having any real interest in fixing other people’s broken nations, for the sake of that alone.
    .
    I agree that there is reason to consider it a fairly minimal level of wiping our own bottom. Counter argument there is that one shouldn’t start cleaning up afterwards while one is still in the middle of the process.
    .
    I think the French are technically still our allies, even if they have fairly recently screwed us over. Them screwing us over does not obligate us to screw them over in return. That would overly constrain our range of action. If we do not void the agreements that say we treat them as allies, we should treat them as allies and support. Even if we have wrecked our reputation as far as that goes, we owe it to ourselves to stand by our word. We also should not withdraw our word all of a sudden because we feel like it when it is inconvenient to others.
    .
    Furthermore, by providing them with expensive specialized services we at the same time get our own people experience and remove motivation for them to develop their own capabilities. If we provide an ally, or some random country, with these services, we may work towards a world where only us and maybe our certain enemies have those capabilities.
    .
    The French have some level of military capability. It is better to give them help intervening overseas, than to leave them to develop it further on their own. One way may cause them to become dependent on us. Another leads them to better prepare to go against us.
    .
    I haven’t checked the World Factbook lately, but I want to say that the rest of the world out numbers us something like twenty to one? If we can’t trust any allies in the long term, it might make sense to help them avoid seeing the need to develop logistical capacity we can.

  • sicsemperstolidissimum says:

    I may have given a mistaken impression.
    .
    I favor those things which kill Salafi and members of Al Quada. They stand against the constitution; they must be cut down.
    .
    The French should be capable of killing people in North Africa.
    .
    I don’t trust Obama not to betray them. I think the French fighting man deserves better than to be at Obama’s mercy. However, that is the decision of the French government.
    .
    During WWII, ‘use them if they will kill Nazis’ was a operating principle of a certain organization. This extended to anyone, rapist, communist or pedophile, who was willing to fight or kill Nazis for whatever reason. During the Cold War this could be reformulated to ‘use them if they kill communists’, not that I know it was. A modern formula might be ‘use them if they kill Salafi’. I would suggest that if the first was legitimate, then so are the latter two.
    .
    Can we trust the French to do the killing we ought to do? I don’t know. They are not permanently committed to our cause, and have run up tabs on us in the past.
    .
    (Translation: Them Salafi need killin’)
    Salafi Necandi Sunt

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