French War In Mali

Finally! Friday January 11, 2013, Paris, Élysée: “Mali is confronting an aggression of terrorist elements coming from the North, with a brutality and fanaticism that the entire world knows” said the French president “I have therefore, in the name of France answered the demand of help from the Mali president, which is supported by the Western African countries. In consequence, the French armed forces have brought this afternoon their support to Malian units to fight against those terrorist elements.”

And, presto, France is at war again. This is the second military intervention of France in Africa, in one week. (The preceding one stopped an insurrection in the Central African Republic.)
And at least the FOURTH major French combat intervention in two years (Ivory Coast, Libya).

French Strike Mali [From Terrorist Video]

French Strike Mali [From Terrorist Video]

For those who are naive in these matters, historically, in the fullness of time, France is the primary military interventionist in the world. Ever. This started when the Roman empire put the Franks in charge of defending Germania and Gallia in 400 CE. After some initial difficulties that caused the fall of the Occidental part of the empire, the Franks annhilated the Huns, the Goths, the Lombards and various other critters. (The Franks also intervened in Britannia for centuries afterwards, before conquering the whole thing in 1066 CE).

The nations French military intervention created constitute the essential of the West: Germany (starting in 500 CE), much of Europe (by 800 CE), all the way to Eastern Europe, and including Catalonia and the reconquista of Spain (Charlemagne), England (1066), the reconquest of much of the Mediterranean from the Muslim invaders (South Italy, Sicily, etc.)… even the Netherlands is, to a great extent, a French creation (a 75 year war part of a 120 year French war against Spain)… And finally, of course, the USA.

Without gigantic French help, and even… incitation, the American rebels would have all been hanged by the authorities, end of the story. Nearly all their cartridges were even made in France. Even while being created, the USA defaulted, and refused to pay back even a cent to the French Treasury for the enormously expensive war that had given birth to it. Thus default presided at the birth of the USA. (Louis XVI was advised to follow suit, and default too; but he refused, as he was hell bent on making nobles pay taxes, something that the National Assembly of 1789 finally imposed!)

That’s one problem with war. When made out of principle, it can only pay back with principle. But that does not mean it should not be made.

It’s not just that the Franks (or the Gauls before them) are slightly demented supermen in search of somebody to fight. The very position of France at the crossroads of the three main trade routes of Western Europe, since the Neolithic, condemned any people thriving there to be pretty aggressive and open minded. That is why the occupants of France may have changed quite a bit, but the mentality persists.

Frankish intervention led to the unification of Western Europe under the body of Roman law and the Roman language, and a version of civilization (and weaponization!) that they called Christianity. Achieving what they called in 800 CE “the Renovation of the Roman Empire”. The Franks, were Germans who civilized Rome, while learning the proper way of making war, a state, and a melting pot, from the Romans.

War is inseparable from democracy, be it just because plutocracy hates democracy. Plutocracy tends to blossom all over, all the time, and one of its main variant is “theocracy”, where (mass) criminal acts are ordered by god(s).

The French government declared that the invaders of Mali are “terrorist” and “criminal”. Differently from December 31, 406 CE, when the Vandals, Alans and various others crossed the frozen Rhine by surprise, France was not surprised that the terrorists decided to invade the rest of Mali, in the hope that the international community would take months to get organized after Susan Rice lifted her veto against France at the UN, and the Security Council voted to allow armed intervention as needed.

The French Air Force has already conducted bombing missions. This is excellent. In the West Africa of my childhood, one had to fear only spiders, horribly poisonous snakes, crocodiles and furry predators. The danger presented by man was inexistent.

Western Africa was way safer than Europe. Shockingly, once, a taxicab driver got killed for his money. That had never happened before. It turned out, and it was pretty telling that, a young French tourist had done it.

Black Muslim faith was not distinguishable from Western secularism in most ways, and was distinctly more progressive in some important ways (having to do with socialism, nudity, and… even the position of women in society).

The “Muslim” faith of the fanatics in the middle of the Middle Earth is a “different religion from mine” declared Abou Diouf, a Wolof Muslim, ex-president of Senegal (and General Secretary of the 70 nations strong francophonie).

Of course such a version of Islam, islam with a progressive, human, civilized face, is intolerable to a lot of bad actors.

Wahhabism, the faith of Saudi Arabia, is perfectly compatible with terrorism, gangsterism, drug trafficking, and, first of all, extreme concentration of wealth (in other words, the exact opposite of Senegalese style Islam). Thus extremely well financed bad actors, armed by the feudal oil powers, tightly connected to Wall Street, of Arabia, keep on financing it. This constant war agaisnt a self made enemy, serves as a justification for the feudal, fascist regimes in the Middle East. That’s why they keep on secreting what we are supposed to fight.

The usual professional pseudo-leftist whiners are sure to surface and accuse France of having interests in Africa. Well, there is something to the notion of empire. Originally, it simply meant command, order.

Under the British Raj, there was no danger that the Muslim dominated regions would engage into a thermonuclear war with the rest of the subcontinent. Had the British Raj evolved as Canada, that would still be an impossibility.

Whereas, as it is, after Gandhi’s pathetic circus, the existence of that Pakistani theocracy (see the connection with plutocracy, above) which he contributed so much to create, does not just threaten India with a few hundreds of millions of dead, but also could ignite a world war.

The old argument of the French in Algeria was that they were back, as the successor state of Rome, after a hiatus imposed by Arab Muslim invaders. This was also the basic argument of Napoleon in Egypt. And there is something to it.

After all, Rome had African, and even Arab, emperors.

So how does this compare with Libya, Syria and Afghanistan?

Well Qaddafi was a horrible dictator, who even raped young girls industrially. he had a deal with those plutocrats, Blair and G.W. Bush. As long as he was in place, an atrocious plutocratic symbol was in place. The difference with North Korea is that, as Qaddafi found out, Libya was only an hour flight out of European bases. Similar reasons brought JFK to a tough line about nuclear capable missiles in Cuba.

Syria is a mess. The only correct line of the West is to draw lines for Assad not to cross, and support the secularist opposition (even with weapons)… while trying not to help the genuine Islamists supported by the feudal regimes.

I have been opposed to the war in Afghanistan for, among other things, strategic reasons. The first one is that, when democracy fights, democracy ought to be pure. In Afghanistan the USA has been as impure as possible, and that had direct strategic consequences leading to the unavoidable defeat we are now experiencing.

During its great war with Sparta, Athens was not ethically pure, far from it, and that is why she was ultimately defeated by a coalition of enraged city states (led by Sparta, financed by Persia). Athens was impure because Athens used the defense funds of the Delian League to build itself pretty buildings still observable today, because Athens destroyed an entire island, Milo, just to show it was a superpower, and because Athens attacked Syracuse, there again, just because she could, as an undefeatable superpower. Athens aggravated her case by boasting of her great democracy and Open Society, while practicing the opposite for all to see.

(Analogies with the present USA, while regrettable, are not a coincidence, and fully intended.)

When the French Republic gave an ultimatum to Hitler, on September 1, 1939, the Republic had been ethically pure (Britain, that France dragged behind, had been much less pure, and its compromising with Hitler had a direct effect on its military preparedness, which was so insufficient, as to leave mostly France fighting, by a ratio of 1 to 20 in soldiers deployed!)

The first big mistake in Afghanistan is actually that the USA attacked the REPUBLIC of Afghanistan in the 1970s. It would seem that the USA (or some influential people in the USA) were after the mineral wealth that the republic of Afghanistan intended to develop with French (and probably Soviet) help.

A dirty war resulted, with the likes of the CIA instrumentalizing the likes of Bin Laden. Then there was 9/11. The West invaded Afghanistan, as was its right.

But then a tragic, and strategic mistake was done: that one of NOT enforcing a SECULARIST state in Afghanistan. Instead the west did what it should never do, put a theocratic republic, Iranian style, in power. Hence NATO fought for Wahhabism light. Thus the Afghans, including those in the army and police, got completely confused, and felt NATO ought to be supporting Fundamentalist Islam, and became crazy, observing otherwise.

Hence the famous “green on blue” and “green on green” attacks. It’s a hopeless situation, and too late to fix it. Better next time we invade Afghanistan from scratch.

Mali is completely different. Mali is a secularist republic. A natural ally of Western civilization, an emanation of it. Not supporting Mali would have extremely adverse consequences, because not just of its location, but because it would be not supporting civilization.

Fortunately precision bombing on armed columns have happened on Friday January 11. There is no doubt the terrorists were taken by surprise. Moderation in the support of civilization is no solution.
Patrice Ayme

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10 Responses to “French War In Mali”

  1. pshakkottai Says:

    Dear Patrice;

    “Typically, imperial powers depend on the inability of oppressed local populations to muster a unified resistance, and the most successful occupiers are skilled at exploiting the differences among the occupied. Certainly that was the story of the British Empire’s success, and its legacy of nurtured local hatreds can be seen wherever the Union Flag flew, from Muslim-Hindu hatred in Pakistan and India, to Catholic-Protestant hatred in Ireland. Ancient Rome was as good at encouraging internecine resentments among the occupied as Britain ever was” from

    The British had a policy of divide and rule which they used all the time during the growth of the East india Company. They carried this to the bitter end. Jinna and Gandhi were both in the indian national congress and could have stayed together but for the stupid British short sighted “divide and rule” policy, stupid because they did not anticipate how theocracy could wreck civilization.

    What does ‘ green on blue’ and ‘green on green’ refer to? Are they flag colors?


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      dear Partha: They are flag colors. “Green on blue” is NATO code for Afghan armed forces attacking NATO forces. Green of Islam attacking Blue of NATO (see the thalassocracy exchange for color blue). “Green on green” means Afghan armed forces attacking the same.

      So you seem to be saying that Gandhi and Jinna became adversaries because of British perfidy? Britain made Gandhi spin his wheel? My objection is that they were both nationalist leaders. Or rather sort of tribal leaders. By opposition to what Mandela became in South Africa (maybe having profitted from the Indian experience), a transnational leader, well above the tribal spirit (Mandela made a point of becoming the Afrikaners’ best friend).

      I do suspect that many leaders in the USA suspected that theocracy was their best friend for divide and rule, hence their outrageous support for Pakistan, among others (and even for Khomeini, in the early 1950s!) This has clearly backfired, but they don’t get it yet as much as they should.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      “Divide and Rule” is just one technique. The Romans themselves named it. However, once the empire was formed, it does not appear to me that it was a major organizing principle. Troops became increasingly resistant to it, and refused to move, even when ordered. They preferred to stay at home (that’s why the Parisians made Julian Augustus).

      There are other benefits to the notion of empire, such as peace and prosperity on a massive scale. The Occident collapsed after 406 CE, because invasions, however ephemeral, ravaged society and economy, pretty much irreversibly.

      The present more or less established order, functions as a worlwide empire headed by the UNSC. And that’s not a bad thing, especially if it can endure.


  2. Dominique Deux Says:

    “Analogies with the present USA, while regrettable, are not a coincidence, and fully intended.”

    And not a wildly new idea, either. Joseph Heller’s “Picture This” laid out that parallel at length. It met with very moderate success – not comedic enough for the learned critics. He brought another thalassocracy, the Dutch Republic (1), into the picture. There is no need to stress how brutal the Dutch were overseas, both with colonized populations and European competitors, in stark contrast with the high degree of democracy in their homeland. But the two imperial thalassocracies were indeed Athens and the US. Oh, and Britain kind of attained the status.

    The parallel comes naturally to the mind; I recall that when reading the beginning of Thucydides’ War of the Peloponnese, as a kid, my first reaction was “I am reading the history of WW3”.

    So many lessons, so few students.

    (1) “Thalassocracy” (a bit more than a mere maritime power) is a word I heard in my younger years. The idea that there was a linkage between openness to the sea and democracy, on one hand, and tyranny and being continental or land-locked, on the one, was deemed significant. Of course dissertations on that topic just had to quote Baudelaire: “Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer.”


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Dominique: Very interesting gathering of suspects you made. And I had been completely oblivious to Bauselaire’s observation. The more striking examples of thalassocracies were Crete and later Carthage. Crete operated very well in symbiosis with Egypt, but got no luck. Carthage realized too late that democracy was superior to plutocracy.

      Mastery of the sea forced a high inclination to technology and science (see the Polynesians).

      At the times of Athens, and maybe specifically because of Athens, the greatest sin the Greeks saw, but were also attracted by, was hubris.
      In the case of the Netherlands, interestingly hubris was also colossal. Apparently Dutch leaders conquered England in the belief that would allow them to master their old benefactor, France. Now, true, Louis XIV was facing a pan European coalition, and was not exactly innocuous in all ways (he was atrocious to protestasnts).

      One has to realize that there is a machinery to the mind. The Greeks, Dutch, but also the English, and the French, or, for that matter, the Prussians, became hubristic because of their very success. The success both created the hubris, and was created by it. They lived symbiotically. Nothing wrong with this, as long as one is aware of it.

      For example it was hubristic for Athens to believe it could oppose the Persian Achaemenid empire, that covered all the Middle East, Macedonia-Northern Greece, Egypt, Lybia, and extended all the way to Iran (of course) and India. But after they crushed the Persians, even though it meant they saw their city burn, it felt probably to the Athenians that hubris was a friend.

      In the end, England, being much larger, swallowed the Netherlands, but digested carefully some of its financial and political system.

      So there are mechanical aspects to it all, and they may be the most pernicious.


  3. pshakkottai Says:

    About “There are other benefits to the notion of empire, such as peace and prosperity on a massive scale.” Yes , provided “The granting of citizenship to allies and the conquered was a vital step in the process of Romanization. This step was one of the most effective political tools and (at that point in history) original political ideas (perhaps one of the most important reasons for the success of Rome).” Romans had a wide inclusive outlook except for slavery.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Partha: Universal citizenship was granted under the son of (Libyan born) emperor Septimus Severus, nicknamed Caracalla. The integration of Gallia (Gaul) in the broad Roman citizenship intervened less than a century after the granting of citizenship to all of the Latium. Yet, the rebellious nature of Gaul was felt early on, as in the year of the four emperors (following Nero’s suicide/execution).

      Are you saying that Britain did not grant citizenship to Indians? France DID grant full citizenship to SOME people in Algeria, but not to others (on the official ground of respecting Islam!) In the rest of Africa, there was just one citizenship level (and that explains that relationships were incomparably better).

      Anyway, at this point, I am pretty much for the one world model, with the caveat that circulation of people cannot be allowed with utmost freedom (otherwise too many Indian doctors would end up making money in the West).

      Slavery was the problem with the Greco-Roman civilization, and why it failed (by indirectly making plutocracy too powerful). We have to be careful not to repeat the process in our One-World… but, so far, we are…


  4. pshakkottai Says:

    Hi Patrice: If exploitation is not severe, migration would be greatly reduced. People like to move to far away lands only for a better life.
    Romans were doing things right till plutocracy destroyed them. Too bad.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Partha: A problem is that there are some lands where life is intrinsically worse (much of sub Saharan Africa, Siberia), and others were politics have made it very bad for so long that it’s going to be hard to change (Cuba, North Korea, Byelorussia, Caucasian republics, much of the Middle East, AfPak)

      Plutocracy rose, accidentally, in Rome, as consequence of the war with Hannibal. But the military machine, entangled with slavery, existed already, as Rome’s MAIN BUSINESS. Thus, differently from Athens, and lots of Greece, Rome was pragmatic, technological, but not very philosophical or scientific.

      Imperators such as Caesar, or Marcus Aurelius, could be personally close to the pinnacle of Roman intellectual power (whereas that did not happen in Athens or Western Europe, where the best leaders were surrounded by top brains, but were not those brains themselves!) top Greco-Roman intellectuals were nearly all, truly, Greek (Cicero, Boethius, etc. being exceptions confirming the rule).


  5. Mom Says:

    Ton essai est remarquable. Je me suis régalée en le lisant. Je ne l’ai pas
    encore fini mais Je voulais tout de suite te donner mes Impressions .
    Bises. M.


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