French-Led Intervention in Mali Gathers British and American Support


British and American forces have joined the French-led intervention in Mali that began on Friday.

The British government has sent two C17 cargo planes to assist French operations in Mali, but will not be sending combat troops. Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said yesterday that British troops could be sent to Mali to assist with training the Malian army as part of a wider E.U. mission. Mr. Simmonds went on to justify British involvement, citing the unpleasantness of the Al Qaeda-linked militants who have taken control of northern Mali. 

On Sunday the French confirmed that the U.S. was providing communication and transport assistance for the intervention. Today, The New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the Obama administration's support for the Malian government, saying that assistance in the form of air and logistical support could be offered. Other details were left wanting:

Defense officials would not rule out the possibility that American military transport planes might land in Mali, where the United States has been conducting an ambitious counterterrorism program for years. The officials would not discuss whether the United States has deployed drone aircraft, either armed or unarmed, over Mali.

Mr. Panetta, who spoke to reporters on his plane en route to Portugal for a weeklong trip in Europe, said that the chaos in Mali was of deep concern to the administration, and he praised the French for their actions. He also said "what we have promised them is that we would work with them, to cooperate with them, to provide whatever assistance we can to try to help them in that effort." 

Although Al Qaeda-linked militants have been pushed back by French operations some have taken the central town of Diabaly as part of a wider advance south. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has been stressing that the operation in Mali will be over soon and predicts that it will be completed in "a matter of weeks." Militants in Mali have pledged to strike "at the heart" of France in a statement that confirms the fears of a French judge who warned that an intervention in Mali could lead to terrorist attacks on French soil.

As Ed noted earlier, Dominique de Villepin, who was France's foreign minister from 2002 to 2004, has said that France would do well to learn from the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq, lessons that British and American officials have apparently yet to learn. 

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  1. If Europe wants to do it, it has to be a good idea.

  2. What’s one more little war, anyway?

    1. It’s Bush’s fault.

  3. So, when the Nobel committee awarded Obama the Peace Prize, I assume they meant he’s kept us out of wars that get immediate attention from the major news outlets.’s lead story is the Armstrong apology,’s lead story is the debt limits, and’s lead story is about some fugitive child molestor.

    1. … and to think this is about saving some black folk. CNN should be all over this.

      If only the Islamists were white, I guess.

  4. my buddy’s sister makes $64 an hour on the computer. She has been without a job for nine months but last month her payment was $13244 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site.

    1. Awesome. I think beat Obama to the punch as well. Way to go Canada!

    2. You Canadian or something?

      Anyway, par for the course as this is the most pro-American government since Mulroney. Harper is also pro-Israel without apologies.

      It’s a nice change after watching the Liberals act like dipshit high school students under Chretien when it came to anti-American B.S.

      1. Since a Dem is in the White House Harper’s pro-Americanism is no problem. Hell if anything his problem is that he is not enough of an American Stooge.

  5. The thing is that this isn’t a new thing; I think the French politicians expect that it will be a similar episode when they intervened in Chad to help rout the Libyan backed militia.

    One telling thing will be the quality of the Mali forces; the Chadian army had a pretty good esprit de corps and had very good discipline. They used the terrain well, and were able to rout the Libyans pretty handily once the French denied the Libyans air superiority.

    If the Malian army turns out to be a standard African army (undisciplined and poorly controlled), it’s going to such French forces into fighting more directly. As the insurgents are winning despite lacking air superiority, my guess is that the French are going to have to deploy units to do the main fighting while the Malian forces behave as undependable auxiliaries. Undependable auxiliaries tend to engage in things like rapine, looting and plundering, so tend to be counterproductive in an insurgency (think ARVN in the last French colonial unpleasantness).

    So, I think it will turn out to be an utter clusterfuck.

    1. Undependable auxiliaries tend to engage in things like rapine, looting and plundering, so tend to be counterproductive in an insurgency


    2. “If the Malian army turns out to be a standard African army (undisciplined and poorly controlled)”


  6. It’s going to take a few more than 500 troops on the ground to handle this, of whatever nationality. Hopefully not Americans.

  7. “The missiles are flying. Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”

    1. The red flowers bursting down below are a sacrament.

  8. Obama is Buffalo soldiering up. Yippy kay yay cowboy!!! Take these savages out.

    Forward to Timbuktu!!!

  9. The lessens of Afghanistan and Iraq have been that there haven’t been any major attacks in the United States since intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The French apparently know this.

    1. French chefs also have a ridiculous notion of what constitutes great olive oil: Cloudy and bitter.

      Thank God the Italians, Spanish and Greeks know better.

      1. Amusing. Food is about the only thing the Italians, Spanish, and Greeks can afford these days. So they should be good at it.

    2. The underwear bomber (for example) failed because the US got involved in Afghanistan and Iraq?

      1. Possibly. All the smart ones flocked to Afghanistan and Iraq I guess.

    3. Uh, we had been intervening in Iraq since 1991, 10 years prior to 9/11.

      1. Really, we had been occupying Iraq since 1991 or were we just enforcing the no-fly zone?

        1. You said “intervening”. You said nothing about an occupation, douchebucket.

          1. I did because Feeney was talking post-9/11.

      2. … and BarryD I don’t think Matthew Feeney was talking about Iraq before 9/11 but after it.


  10. I’m shocked France hasn’t surrendered yet.

  11. It’s obvioulsy Bush’s fault we are in another war.

  12. It’s amazing Reason didn’t give in to Islamist threats and not publish the Muhammad cartoons. Got to take such threats of violence seriously Reason. Be smart and just do what they say or face the blowback.

  13. So OK man who comes up with all that crazy stuff. Wow.

  14. Why would they need to learn from Iraq and Afghanistan, which are far away, radically different culturally, and have completely different histories? Wouldn’t the experience the French gained in the [b]three dozen[/b] other times they’ve militarily intervened in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa in the last five decades be far, far more relevant?

  15. “The British government has sent two C17 cargo planes to assist French operations in Mali…”

    By God that will strike fear in the hearts of terrorists the world over. Not one, but TWO cargo planes. Those Brits will stop at nothing to defeat evil!

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