A top US official told the Associated Press that military action will be needed to eliminate radical Islamists from the haven they’ve developed in northern Mali.
Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told reporters that the thuggery and terrorism that these extremist militants are responsible for “must be dealt with through security and military means,” which can help establish a “strong, credible government” in Mali.
Carson’s statement is notable for several reasons. First, the apparent safe haven that these militant Islamists have in northern Mali is a direct result of the US-NATO war in Libya. When mercenaries returning from Libya waged a military coup in Mali, extremists flooded to the area to take advantage of the resulting power vacuum. That their presence is now justifying further military intervention is ironic to say the least.
Furthermore, American military action that aims to eliminate extremist groups in lawless regions and set up a “strong, credible government” has a terrible track record as a policy option, as the failing quagmire in Afghanistan has demonstrated.
Finally, in every US military intervention since 9/11 extremism and militancy has been fostered instead of eliminated. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Libya, and in Somalia – problems of extremism and terrorist groups worsened following intervention. Why intervening in Mali will be any different is a mystery.
Carson did say that “any military action up there must indeed be well planned, well organized, well resourced, and well thought through,” adding that, “it must, in fact, be agreed upon by those who are going to be most affected by it.”
Here Carson is referring to the African nations surrounding Mali, the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. In keeping with the Obama administration’s supposed ‘leading from behind,’ Washington has been pressing neighboring countries to take action, and probably offering them economic and military goodies to do so.
But Obama’s penchant for low-key militarism – special operations forces, drones, and secret wars as opposed to grand military invasions – has probably already begun to crop up in Mali. Administration officials have been hinting about expanded operations in the region, all without the permission or knowledge of the American people or Congress.