Abstract: The USA has to realize that enforcing civilization, worldwide, is a matter of security, not just high principle.
Yes, it was uncivilized for the USA to attack Afghanistan in 1979 and Iraq in 2003. However, it’s civilized to help the French as much as possible to defend the secular Malian republic and the Malian People.
As far as fighting a long war, the USA itself was born no earlier than 1776 from a conflict that had started earlier than 1756. Rolling back fanatical invading Islamists since 721 CE, and other invaders before that (Huns, Goths, Vandals, etc.) has been Francia’s main business. Not for the pusillanimous, right! If civilization is not strong, civilization is nought.
“U.S. Weighing How Much Help to Give France’s Military Operation in Mali” say the New York Times’ David Sanger and Eric Schmitt in Sat, Jan 26 cover article. Let me discuss.
The historico-geographical context of the Mali war is global, spanning a small planet, and a very long history.
New York Times: “WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is debating how much more aid it can give the French military forces who are battling Islamic militants in Mali, weighing the benefit of striking a major blow to Qaeda-linked fighters in Africa against concern about being drawn into a lengthy conflict there.”
Oh poor little scared USA, plausibly dragged into lengthy conflict, never had a war longer than 11 years. Let me explain to USA how the civilization that gave birth to the USA a millennium later arose to start with. Well, through a lengthy conflict. Actually the present civilization arose through several lengthy conflicts, and would not have existed without them (after all after defending by themselves against invasions, starting in 400 CE, the Franks finished the conquest of Europe, something Rome had given up on).
Several of the French quirks that irritate the Wall Street Journal, such as nationalizations, or controlling the Church as an organ of the secular state, were invented, or amplified in a terrible war against invading fanatical Islam in 721 CE to 750 CE, the first phase of a war that never really stopped.
So, speaking of lengthy conflict, that’s nearly 1,300 years of conflict. More, if one views Francia as part, and official heir of the Roman state, which she was by 400 CE. The first Muslim attack against Rome was led by Mahomet himself, mounted on a horse, at the head of his army. The Romans did not offer battle, and a disappointed Mahomet returned home to Mecca, where he promptly died…
In the early Eight Century Berber and an Arab armies, having recently embraced the war religion of Islam, wrestled Spain from the (divided) Visigoths, ruling over a divided country.
How? The population of Spain was divided in (more than) three Judeo-Christian sects and ethnic groups (including the Basque). The Visigoths did not believe that Jesus was as much of a god as his “father”, an idea traced to the bishop of Alexandria (Egypt), Arianus. So they were Arians, and not liked by the Catholic Orthodox, who made the majority of Spain, and believed in the Trinity, that is, that Jesus was god just as much as his dad.
The Jews, numerous in Spain, also did not like the Visigoths who ruled them, and some cooperated with the invading Muslims. The end result of all these acerbic divisions was that the Muslims seized Spain. Then they proceeded to kill a fifth of the Catholics (from church records).
The occupiers and decimators then got very strong, because they controlled now a huge new territory. Yet, in 718 CE, the Muslims failed for the third time, under the enormous walls of Constantinople.
In 721 CE, the Muslim armies invaded Francia. (Yes, Francia. I corrected Wikipedia which ignorantly called the place “Gaul”.) The Muslims followed the old plan to finish Constantinople from behind. Grecian fire, a mystery, but highly efficient weapon, had annihilated a Muslim fleet of more than 2,000 warships besieging the capital, thus going around was in order.
The Muslims tried to seize Toulouse, besieging it for three months. They confronted the army of Duke Eudes, the Duke of Aquitania, and put it to flight. They chased it, and fell into a trap. As they contentedly feasted, celebrating their victory, Eudes rushed back and the Muslims were taken by total surprise.
The invaders suffered an enormous defeat. According to Al-Maqqari, Duke Odo/Eudes had an army of 300,000, and the Muslim death toll was an astounding 375,000 on the invading Ummayaad troops. It is fashionable to say these numbers are inflated, as it allows to belittle the triumph of the Franks. But why not to believe the only eyewitnesses reports we have? The astounding figures give an idea of the scale of the confrontation.
In any case, all historians agree that the battle of Toulouse in 721 CE was, for sure, a gigantic defeat, and the turning of the Islamist tide, the first catastrophic defeat that the Arab, Syrians and other Yemenites had ever suffered.
The Muslim invaders had taken decades to conquer the Catholic Roman cities of the Maghreb. They had suffered reverses, until they allied with savage Berbers from the hinterlands. But never, ever, did the Arab islamist armies suffer a devastating defeat, on land before Toulouse.
They tried another method, good old fashions razzias: after seizing Narbonne and other cities they dashed all the way to Autun, not far from Paris (725 CE). But they could not hold territory.
The rest, as the commons say, is history. Exasperated and troubled, the Caliphate in Damascus insisted, and launched an even more formidable invasion, incorporating in the army crack soldiers recruited all the way to Yemen (learn, White House, that, even then, the terrorists came from afar!).
This time Duke Eudes was defeated, in a terrible battle next to Bordeaux (eyewitnesses say we would never be able to determine how many died, so many there were). The South West of Francia got ravaged.
But Charles Martel, “major of the Palace” had had 11 years to constitute the most formidable army since the heydays of Rome. To pay for it, he had nationalized the Church. The gold paid professional soldiers handsomely, to provide for their families. Charles’ formidable army had been busy conquering Germany, all the way to Frisia… a nice way to train.
The Muslims reached the region of Tours. They spread far and wide, in at least a third of Francia, pillaging, and bringing back lots of goodies and enslaved captives to a central camp, by Poitiers. Meanwhile, they kept surveillance on the Roman road between Tours and Paris. Roman roads were made to carry armies.
The Muslims had annihilated, in Syria, nearly a century before, the main Roman army, 160,000 men. After that, throwing to the winds the most basic laws of war, they had hunted and killed potential Roman soldiers all over the east. In a few decades half the Roman empire had been conquered, and all of Persia.
Charles Martel did not take the road. Suddenly he appeared half out of the woods, on a hill, just where he wanted to be. The Emir called back his troops from far and wide. They took eight days to all come back (so some may have been 200 miles away).
The Muslim cavalry charges broke on the “ice like” wall of the Frankish phalanx, bristling with lances. The Franks had better armor, better swords and battle axes (they were heir to 1,500 years of Gallic metallic superiority). Duke Eudes attacked the Muslim camp, freeing prisoners, threatening booty and camp followers of the Muslim army. The crazies with god were routed, and not buried. Frankish heavy cavalry successfully pursued them, for weeks, killing countless numbers. The whole place was named the “Alley of the Martyrs” by the discomfited Arabo-Berber invaders.
Five years later, the Muslim invaders were back, with another giant force, combining a land and sea attack. They thought they were ready for Charles’ mighty phalanx. But this time Charles had joined to his phalanx an enormous heavy cavalry with giant horses (737 CE). Fighting with lances and battle axes standing on stirrups made the “EUROPEAN” knights unstoppable. Yes, that’s when the word EUROPEAN appeared first.
The Syrian and Arab army destroyed, Arabs supported by the Persian took over, and the Caliphate was displaced to Baghdad (750 CE), close to the Iranian plateau. (Conventional historians do not point this out.)
So how does this connect to Mali?
First Muslim terrorism against the West was invented by Mohammed the Prophet himself. Islam was presented as a specifically anti-Western war machine (that can be read in the Qur’an, where the Romans are specifically mentioned, and the strategy to attack them).
Five years ago the terrorists in the Sahara desert were 200. But the Sahara was left at their disposal, and they are financed by drug trafficking and feudal Wahhabite regimes from Arabia. So around Mali alone they are now 10,000. Leaving a territory to terrorists enables them to grow.
New York Times: “The immediate issue is whether and how to supply American aerial refueling planes… any refueling would probably be approved only with restrictions.
“The discussions center on cost, and the concern about whether this becomes an open-ended mission for the French in Mali,” one Defense Department official said. “What does that mean about our commitment?” “
Is big bad Pentagon scared? France fought Qaddafi on and off for three decades, nearly killing him at some point in Chad. Instead of worrying whether France is going to fight too much, the leadership of the USA ought to worry about the fanatical Islamists in, say, Egypt (they are in power there!)
New York Times: “Most of the reservations about whether President Obama has the legal authority to engage in military operations were resolved, officials said, after it was determined that the main targets were linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. But the degree to which President Obama wants to get involved in Mali is still an open question, presenting the president and his national security team with the latest in a series of decisions about how heavily to intervene in remote conflicts.
Also in play is the depth of the American commitment to France…”
There is nothing very remote about Mali. Florida and Senegal are geologically identical: they used to be part of the same plate.They are facing each other across the ocean, six hours of subsonic flying will get you there from USA territory, it’s about half the distance to Hawai’i from washington, DC.
Lose Mali, lose West Africa (including Nigeria).
Commitment this, commitment that, commitment to, our commitment… The USA seems to have lots of problems with the concept of commitment. Do the USA need to be committed?
As far as being committed to France, well, ought a son be committed to his mother? Camus said yes. I concur.
New York Times: Mr. Obama’s aides say that the model under way in Mali now — with the French taking the lead, and a force from the region backing them up — is exactly what they want to encourage. But some officials say they believe the French went into Mali hastily, in the words of one official “before they understood exactly what they were biting off.”
France has fought in the desert for centuries, and won quite a few. There was nothing hasty about the French counter-attack. Left alone, left to seize Bamako, which they could have done in one day, the followers of the fanatical terrorists would soon have been millions (they indoctrinate children as young as 12 as soldiers).
It’s a strange sight to see those warriors, crazed with god, driving the largest trucks, on which they mount tanks’ gun turrets… why did nobody think of this before? Because never before warriors so little attached to their own lives thrived in such great numbers.
New York Times: “White House officials say they want to understand the broader political and strategic plan to end the conflict before they get more involved.”
There is nothing to understand strategically, while the house is burning down: destroying the terrorists is the immediate goal. Another immediate goal should be to make sure the black Malian forces do not exert reprisals against the white, Tuareg or Arab “Malian” rebels. That is where pacifying officers from the West could help.
More subtle, but long term necessary, is giving the Tuareg a state (“Azawad”?), or secure autonomy (but say, Algeria, Morocco, will not like it).
New York Times: “But since France entered the conflict in early January, there has been little time for strategic planning. The United States has begun transporting a 600-member French mechanized battalion and its gear to Mali, and is providing intelligence information, including satellite imagery, American officials said on Friday. “The spigot is opened all the way,” one official said. So far that help has been provided at no cost to the French.
But the refueling would bring the American involvement to a new level, directly supporting military attacks. And for Mr. Obama, who devoted part of his Inaugural Address on Monday to a celebration of the end of a war in Iraq and the winding down of the American commitment in Afghanistan, the prospect of getting involved in a conflict against a shadowy enemy far from the United States is unwelcome.”
There is nothing far, anywhere, in this world. North Korea is closer to the USA than England and France were under Napoleon.
One has to distinguish wars one should not have done (Afghanistan since Carter attacked it on July 3, 1979; Iraq since the West has been messing with it, that is since before Rumsfeld shook hands with Saddam Hussein December 20, 1983)… And wars one should do.
The only reason the enemy is “shadowy” is that the USA is unwilling to trace the money back to the feudal oil states it supports. Because they are part of the world’s plutocratic order. It is of course troubling to see Socialist France attack with wild abandon the mignons of the world plutocratic order’s feudal branch.
New York Times: “In the case of Mali, one official said, American intelligence assessments have concluded that the Islamic extremists have little ability to threaten the United States. “But they can threaten the region,” he said, “and that’s where the argument for American involvement comes in.””
Once again, that’s an illusion, that they don’t threaten the USA. Indeed with French precision bombing in the middle of the night, it’s hard for them to concentrate on the USA (but they do threaten the USA when they talk on French TV!).
True the Islamic extremists have little ability to threaten the 48 contiguous states at this very moment, but if they come to dominate the region, they will.
New York Times: “The government of President François Hollande has said it will stay in Mali and the surrounding region as long as needed. The United States has been more hesitant about supporting the new government in Mali, which came to power in a coup mounted by an American-trained military leader.”
These are details. True, American trained troops in Mali were a disaster. But Mali is SECULAR REPUBLIC. One can have a republic, even after or during a coup, because republican institutions are not restricted to the (“elected“) upper governmental structure.
Another point is that sending an army to free a country from terrorists support We The PEOPLE of that country. When France sent an army and a fleet to the English colony of North America, she was not sending them to a government, but to We The PEOPLE of the USA.
New York Times: Mr. Obama talked on the phone on Friday with Mr. Hollande, but White House officials did not say whether the leaders had dwelled on the refueling issue… Several French tankers are providing air-to-air refueling for … Mirage and Rafale combat and reconnaissance aircraft… but officials in Paris would like to have American tankers ready as a backup if the ground operation faces stiffer resistance than anticipated, or an unforeseen crisis requires France to send more aircraft.
A White House statement said [Obama and Hollande] had talked about the need to quickly establish an African-led force in Mali, as well as the importance of Mali’s establishing a path to elections and to “restoration of democratic governance” in the country.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defense minister, said:“The goal is the total reconquest of Mali, we will not leave any pockets.”But Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, voiced more limited objectives.
“We would all like to see the elimination of Al Qaeda and others from northern Mali, realistically, probably the best you can get is containment and disruption so that Al Qaeda is no longer able to control territory.”
Well the best way to wage war is to win it. That is, if one is not just humoring a greedy military-industrial complex, and friendly rapacious feudal states in the Middle East.
Ultimately, Islamic terrorism is not compatible with the pursuit of an advanced technological civilization, and will have to be dealt with it thoroughly, that is, philosophically. That is, deal with it definitively, as we did, say, with Moloch, Gallic human sacrifices, or with Aztec terrorism.
But first the military side, the Dark Side, has to be taken care of. This is now.