Abstract: If there is one lesson that morally upright people in the USA should draw from World War Two, it’s the following. When the French Republic asks for military help, the USA ought to salute briskly and respectfully ask:”How much?” After all, a son such as Uncle Sam, should not leave his mother in distress.
This correct attitude is directly applicable to the situation in Mali and the Sahara right now. Mali is not Afghanistan. Afghanistan was an error, an irrelevant sideshow that the USA imposed on itself by (unlawfully, and secretly) messing up that forlorn country in the 1970s. (9/11 was an infortunate blow-back, after the conflict deliberately instigated by the USA, brought the death of millions of Afghans.)
The war in Africa is completely different from that error in Afghanistan. Africa is of extreme strategic importance. Africa is an enormous continent, it has enormous resources, a vast and extremely varied population. It is part of the geographical, cultural and historical center of the human world. It is contiguous to Europe. Africa has been neglected too long.
It’s clear where the Dark Side is, in this war. France had the right reflex by punching back hard as soon as the terrorists crossed the cease-fire line. France needs a bit more equipment to fuel her fighter planes optimally, as they patrol a giant territory.
But it’s not just the USA. If there is one lesson that democracies should draw from World War Two, it’s that France should not fight infamy alone (with insufficient British help). At the very least, all European countries should join in.
How? As the French combat units reconquer vast swathes of territory, Malian troops in their wake are left to police the immensity. Their resentment against Tuaregs and Arabs is showing up; other Western countries’ soldiers could help the Malians and other Black Africans keep in touch with the philosophically, and strategically, correct attitude
Idiocies are arguments that keep coming back to the fore first, among the poorly educated.
An (idiotic) slogan that keeps coming back is used by Johnnie Carson, who heads the Africa bureau at Obama’s State Department. Mr. Carson observes that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) “has not demonstrated the capability to threaten U.S. interests outside of West or North Africa, and it has not threatened to attack the U.S. homeland.”
That specious reasoning was evoked by several historically uneducated Obama administration officials to refuse air refueling requests from the French Republic. Let me explain the importance.
The French fighter-bombers have to patrol and intervene in an area larger than Texas, and some have to do so from bases thousands of miles away. It’s a bit as if they patrolled Texas from British Columbia. So the need for air refueling of bomb laden French supersonic bombers is acute! Although the French have air refueling capability, they don’t have enough to do the mission comfortably.
The enemy is not a hop and skip away, as it is the case in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is at most 200 miles away from gigantic, fortress like, NATO air bases covering entire landscapes. (See technical note about Rafales and Mirages.)
Let’s go back to the pathetic reasoning of Johnie Carson with his weasel words and total lack of moral perspective:”[The terrorists] have not demonstrated threat to U.S. interests… not threatened to attack the U.S. homeland.” ??? Is not that the famous Washington reasoning used in 1940 about the Nazis? Is Johnie Carson trying to emulate the comedian Johnny Carson by poking fun at the Holocaust?
Right. Auschwitz was built by the Nazis, starting on 21 February 1940. Auschwitz did not demonstrate the capability to threaten U.S. interests outside of West or North Africa, and it did not threaten to attack the U.S. homeland.
So, I guess, that is why Washington did not do anything about it.
Washington is apparently concerned if and only if, it is threatened. In other words, by its own admission, Washington is all about self interest, not civilization. This is exactly the opposite of the French credo. That explains the difference in behavior of France and the USA in 1939.
France declared war to Hitler September 3, 1939, because France had had enough of that terrorist. 40 French divisions tried to break through the Westwall (“Siegfried Line”) in the following days. The first British soldier arrived to help France within a month. The Canadians landed entire divisions by June 1940, nine month later. The proverbial Americans arrived on June 6, 1944, 57 months later, as part of D Day. Yes, fifty seven months later. The Americans were not the majority of the landing force on D Day.
According to Mr. Carson, as the Nazis did not demonstrate the capability to threaten U.S. interests, the USA, as a society and polity, may as well have helped Hitler in 1939. And this is exactly what was done diplomatically and through all sorts of American corporations. The same courtesy was extended to Mussolini (this did not escape the Italian resistance, which would return the favor by hanging Mussolini from an American, Esso gas station in Milan).
The Ethyl Corporation of America sent 500 tons of a crucial additive, lead tetraethyl, an anti-knock compound, so the Nazi Air Force (Luftwaffe) could stay in the air, and keep on fighting the French (the Luftwaffe would go on, to lose 36% of its power during the Battle of France in May-June 1940). Meanwhile, the Congress of the USA passed an anti-French, anti-British law. President Roosevelt regretfully signed it into law.
As the Nazis had not demonstrated the capability to threaten U.S. interests, nor threatened to attack the U.S. homeland, the USA rejected the French demands for military help in 1940. The exact reasoning still used by Mr. Carson.
Waiting fifty seven months to help one’s parent is no moral rush. Yes, because without France there would have been no USA to start with, so France gave birth to the USA. (Although, in part because the USA defaulted on the multi-trillion dollar debt to France, this fact is not advertized.)
Waiting fifty seven months to help civilization is no moral rush.
Waiting fifty seven months to help humanity is no moral rush.
(OK, I am been a bit unfair, here, as the USA saw prior combat in Tunisia, Sicily, Italy; but, precisely, in that case, after the French had broken through the Hitler Line, south of Rome, the USA stabbed in the back general Juin; instead of giving Juin more divisions to rush into Austria, as juin had requested, the American command did the exact opposite, making sure the French could not rush towards Austria, thus extending the war by a year, and making sure half of Europe could be given to Roosevelt’s comrade Joseph Stalin!)
Adolf Hitler declared war TO the USA, on December 11, 1941. The USA found itself at war, with Nazi Germany in 1942, contrarily to Washington’s plans, which were to do nothing bellicose in 1942. As that was in Washington’s best interest.
This attitude of the USA was, and is, not excusable. It reflects a military and cultural tradition born in the woods of North America. The USA was born, fighting Neolithic Indians. Later, even the war of the South against the North was a sure thing: most of the industrial basis of the USA was in the North, and the craziness of the “cavaliers” of the South could only bring their death, as it did.
So the tradition of the diplomatic service in the USA is not aware that war is serious business, and can turn into completely unexpected ways. Several of the major battles of WWII, when re-enacted in (computer aided) war games, nearly never turn the way they did happen. Thus it is best, not to play with war. Thus the Pentagon, aware as it is of these facts, will naturally disagree with State, and want to help the French hard and early, because the Pentagon knows that’s how democracies win wars: by being big, open, with clear war objectives, and being fully in one’s right. (In other words the exact opposite of the weasel war started by Carter’s CIA in Afghanistan in the 1970s.)
The Second World is full of totally unexpected turns of events, which went one way, but could have turned the other. For example if the Ethyl Corporation of America had not sent Lead Tetraethyl to the Nazis, the Luftwaffe would have been grounded, the French and British would have had mastery of the skies… Grounded the Luftwaffe was in front of Moscow in December 1941: it was so cold, only Soviet planes were in the air. The Nazis were not lubricated enough… They suffered their first strategic defeat.
I could go on like this, with a list of unexpected, and hard to expect, events of the Second World War. As it was, to win the war, the USA had just to join France and Britain in September 1939, and declare war to the Nazis. German generals would have done the rest, declare a national emergency, explain that the Nazis were endangering Germany, and destroy them.
There was an official plot that way, organized by Beck, the Wehrmacht chief. However the ambiguous attitude of some leaders of the USA and the UK undermined Beck (who was then betrayed by some of the Anglo-saxons he had asked to help; the plan was finally activated only in 1944… Way too late.)
Sufficient to say that the French army, having underestimated the Vietnamese Communists at Dien Bien Phu, found themselves encircled by an enemy that had, unexpectedly, dragged big guns through the jungle. The French asked the Americans for air support. Eisenhower refused. Conclusion: a “Communist” dictatorship, truly a form of communal plutocracy took control of half of the country, and the USA was involved in a 20 year war in Vietnam (which it took that long to lose)
The present situation in Mali was greatly caused by from the USA. The USA trained five units of the Malian army, and four of them defected to the invaders, with their brand new weapons and newfound skills.
The French (counter-)attack followed, within hours, the attempt to seize the rest of Mali: 50 French special forces dropped on the ground next to Konna, were supposed to help planes find their targets. They found themselves in combat as the Malian army retreated.
Within days of the French intervention with massive bombing, the Tuaregs, having reconsidered the situation in the light of new evidence, proclaimed that they were switching their allegiance to France. Even the American neoconservative historian Robert Kaplan is rallying. He said. “I have a new philosophy: If the French are ready to go, we should go”
This is indeed wise: ever since the Romans put the Franks in charge of defending much of their empire, and ever since the Merovingians outlawed slavery, armed human rights has been a sort of main business model of France… And it’s hard to imagine how it could be otherwise with a democratic republic (even islands such as Britain and the USa had to subscribe, to some extent, to that philosophy).
I personally think that the Tuaregs should be (somewhat) independent. De Gaulle, who did not know Africa, and could not care less, gave Tuareg territory to all the countries around at independence. But the Tuaregs have a very old civilization, that had an alphabet more than 1,600 years before Arabic appeared from their common root.
Naturally that would not please the neighboring countries (the Kurds have the same problem: they, too were at home, 2,000 years before the Turks showed up in the neighborhood.
All matter to negotiation. After all, South Sudan was created, as it should have been (making Azawad independent is very similar problem, in reverse!)
Meanwhile, please help provide those tankers to fuel the French Air Force. (Otherwise I will have to remind us who fueled the Nazi Air Force when the latter ferried the rebel army of general Franco into Spain, in 1936…)