So, way to go France!
French soldiers are going after Islamic extremists in the west African nation of Mali, which was once part of the French colonial holdings on the African continent.
And meanwhile there is an ongoing hostage situation, or it may be over, and several hostages dead, in Algeria, another former French colony. Islamic extremists threaten gas fields there heretofore thought to be out of the way of terrorist threats. The Algerian military was handling that situation (and it seems to have gone badly as of this writing).
You don’t usually think of France as a leading military power, especially when you consider that nation’s pathetic early fall in World War II. Of course in the day it was a reigning power in Europe.
And the notion of the French Foreign Legion has always intrigued me. It’s the stuff of romance and adventure — I never wanted to join, though. The Foreign Legion is open to recruits from all over the world but is run by French officers. Men looking for adventure or for an escape from life situations are part of the legend of the legion. The legion has units going into Mali.
France, you will recall, took the lead in helping the insurgency against Ghadafi in Libya .
But go get ‘em France! I just read the Mali invasion has wide support among the French populace and in Mali.
France is having a kind of identity crisis within what with the Islamification of many aspects of its culture due to heavy immigration.
I’m part French and feel some identity with its people.
While I think George W. Bush and the neocons took the wrong approach in the war on terror, it seems clear that there is an ongoing effort by Islamic militants to grab control wherever they can. I also think that many or most of these militants are no more than thugs using religion and cultural identity as a cover and a tool.
The trick is going to be supporting people’s who want to be free in their struggle against these thugs without being so heavy handed that we (the west) fall into the trap of looking to be the bad guys and end up creating more recruits for the extremists.
And we cannot go into these places with the notion that we have no choice but to wreck countries in order to save them (you will recall Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan).
Should the U.S. get involved in the flare-ups in Africa? We may have to. But it will require a very careful, clear-headed approach and commitment. That is what we so often seem to lack — commitment.