Since I don’t expect that many of you would have noticed (and for good reason), I have a news flash for you: The French have actually won a war. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really an actual war, and the French have won many military conflicts in the past, but this French victory in Mali is important and — wait for it — perhaps even illustrative for the United States.
A conservative praising the French? Yes, I know it’s relatively unheard of — especially since France’s newly minted president is a socialist — but it is genuine. For the past three weeks, French and Malian troops have executed a rather effective military campaign to drive Islamic terrorists with suspected ties to al-Qaeda from their strongholds in the northern part of the northwestern African nation. Unsurprisingly, this has drawn all sorts of criticism from extreme leftists, who see France’s actions as an unwarranted use of force by the former colonizer in their former colony. While some scream imperialism, others have returned to the tired old excuse that France must be after oil or some other natural resource. Others have even been audacious enough to defend the terrorists, falling back on the pathetic excuse that the Malian government has failed to provide for the cities that harbor them and that the people had nowhere else to turn.
These oversimplified lines of reasoning ought to be disregarded and pushed aside as nonsensical. In the first place, unlike the U.S. in Libya, the French (and the world, for that matter) had real reason to be concerned about the growing strength of the militant Islamist forces taking hold of Mali’s northern regions. After having just come out of a civil war, terrorists taking control of Mali’s national government would have greatly destabilized the entire region. It was in part because of this that the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 2085 unanimously and with nearly any debate authorized the deployment of ground troops. Furthermore, countries with relatively little interest in Mali, such as Canada, joined with the French to pursue military action. If that doesn’t fit the definition of what kind of war is acceptable to an American leftist,
I wouldn’t be able to tell you what does.
Finally, motivated perhaps by their distaste for war, the French have stumbled upon a strategy that the United States might do well to emulate in the future of the War on Terror. Namely, all the French did was surgically insert troops to deal with a specific problem, kicked that specific problem in the ass in a matter of three weeks and now have already made plans to pull out. While I am by no means saying the two are the same, I cannot help but wonder whether this blitz war in Mali has been just as effective at destroying the radical Islamist forces there as our nearly 12-year-long war in Afghanistan has been in eliminating the Taliban.
The only disappointing part of Mr. Hollande’s speech on pulling out of Mali was his pledge to help rebuild the nation. I doubt his socialist constituents will take kindly to such things. At the least, it seems, the French have finally mastered how to conduct warfare correctly. Perhaps the United States would do well to think about whether blitz war might be effective in its own future endeavors.
Jeffrey Robin only wishes that Napoleon could be here today to read this column.
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