Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Flogging Mali Again (and the Attack in Algeria too)’

Full piece here.

Want to read the best roundup of Mali so far?:

‘In short, from a strictly military point of view, what’s going on in Mali is going to keep going on in one form or another for a while. This will not end soon. It is also fairly likely to spread to Niger, possibly to Mauritania, Burkino Faso, Chad, Algeria and back into Libya, too, where the Tuareg live. And, as I have already suggested, a serious French-led intervention in Mali may help to spread it faster. There’s nothing like an “imperialist challenge” to stimulate resistance and high morale. On the other hand, an expansion of Tuareg activism might dilute the Islamist element within it, and might make the Arabic-speaking guest fighters unpopular and unwelcome, much as occurred in Iraq.’

Garfinkle isn’t sure if these are Al-Qaida directly affiliated groups or not.

Addition:  Please see Garfinkle’s follow-up piece on Algeria and the backstory. He suggests the USS Cole, Benghazi, and the Algerian gas plant may best be defined as insurgency.


I suspect it’s true that people in the Muslim world have their own interests, schisms, tribal affiliations and local politics.  Al Qaida is more like a franchise, even a myth, spoken of darkly, but also with some sympathy by some Muslims on the street.  It can be incidental to their lives, but most know Al Qaida involvement is more likely to provoke an American response.  There are a few converts and copycats ‘corrupted’ by the West consistently looking back for a more pure Islam from America and Europe, but Al Qaida’s strength is often grafted from the root of local struggles, and specifically where enough of a power vacuum develops on the ground.

There is broader appeal in uniting around a central vision of Islam, and that sentiment is deeper and stronger at the moment, and usually much less violent and radical, than what Al Qaida offers.  Submission of the will in Islam is certainly not just an option at the buffet of religions that multiculturalism serves up.  I’d remind multiculturalists they are looking out from a few centuries of post-reformation and post-Enlightenment separation of church and state when they address the Muslim world (most of them wanting to project ideals of humanism, secular humanism and also direct their own governments and people toward those ideals).  We will always have to make deals with the devil in pursuit of our interests, and we should recognize most Arab leaders strong enough to do so simply stamp Al Qaida out, much as they rather oppressively stamp out most political opposition to stay in power.

Even with stronger states in the Muslim world it can be tough to find mutual interest, as they offer complex policy challenges (the Wahabi-funding Saudis, an incredibly shaky, terrorist filled Pakistan, a hostile and nuclear-ambitious Iran, a now Muslim-Brotherhood-led Egypt).


Michael Totten has an interesting piece on the relative stability of Morocco, which has a still-functioning monarchy.

Update: Over 80 dead in Algeria.

Related On This Site   Al Qaida is on the rise in Afghanistan, and our objective may not be met.  Just ask Lara LoganSome Tuesday Links-Two Foreign Fronts

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which seems to be the premise of this administration’s approach Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..neo-neo-colonialism? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Some Tuesday Links-Two Foreign Fronts

Afghanistan-Have we met our objective of disrupting the Islamist terrorists that gather in Afpak?

Perhaps temporarily, but in the long run, no, probably not.  Nearly every American soldier has likely seen some good in what we’ve done.  The fighting has been very fierce at times.

From dnaindia:

‘US President Barack Obama has said that by the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan would be over. Obama said that the core objective, the reason America went to war, is now within reach- in ensuring that Al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America  ‘

There is no way around it:  Afghanistan is a mess.  The Taliban and our opposition really aren’t going anywhere.  Karzai is a notably unstable leader.  The government is corrupt, the army seems untrainable, the border porous.  Pakistan is not really an ally.  Our policy is adrift and commitment unsteady.

Afpak is a work in progress, and will require close attention.

Michael Yon says to cut losses.

The NY Times despite and because of its worldview has pretty good coverage.

About that objective of disrupting terror networks…what’s our plan for the future?

Mali-With or without Gerard Depardieu, French leaders will be raising troop levels from 750 to a projected 2,500 and are currently using airstrikes to bottle in the Islamist insurgency that controls the Northern half of the country.  These are a brutal bunch of competing warlords, really, seeking heaven on earth.

The US and UK are offering assistance.

How is this going to work, exactly?

***It’s good to see people so sure of good and evil these days:  Mali in throes of genocide by US, UK, France evil trio: Analyst

Perhaps, as in Libya, we are giving rise to neo-neo colonialism and its discontents.

About that objective of combatting the larger Islamist resurgence that seems to be going on,…what’s our plan for the future?

Addition:  Adam Garfinkle takes the NY Times to task for shallow coverage of Mali:

‘Hence, what’s going on in Mali is going to keep going on, in one form or another. It is likely to spread to Niger, possibly to Mauritania, too. I can barely wait for the next drive-by, nomad-journalism New York Times potshots aimed at trying to convey the shape of this burgeoning mess. Maybe one day they’ll even figure out how to connect the dots back to Libya.’

Ideologically speaking, it’s not about Libya, or the Tuareg, or the broader world outside.  It’s about shifting U.S. culture and politics to a more Western universalist lens: Their favored ideas and politicians and what they can see from inside that lens.

That’s a schism in our society, Mali, Syria, and Afghanistan aside.

Related On This Site: I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which seems to be the premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Form Foreign Affairs: ‘Stephen Biddle and Max Boot Discuss U.S. Afghanistan Policy’

Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.