France Leads Military Effort in Mali, Latest Front in the War on Terror

by Mike on January 14, 2013

in France,International Relations,Politics,War on Terror

I’ve always thought that President Bush’s greatest accomplishment was his recognition that terrorist acts committed by networks of global reach and the nations who harbored them were really acts of war that should be treated as such.  Rather than serving terrorists with legal papers and affording them U.S. Constitutional rights, Bush believed that a wider range of options should always be available, whether it was military action, freezing their assets, covertly turning one against another, or diplomatically applying pressure.  The Democratic-led opposition and certain western allies often said the right things after America changed its footing, but there was always a concern that the War on Terror would be treated as a solely American, or even worse, Republican-led endeavor.

The latest news out of Mali, horrible as it is, suggests that the War on Terror really is the multilateral and multi-partisan enterprise it needs to be in order to succeed.  In recent days, France (huh?) has, with some success, been leading an offensive against Al Qaeda forces in Mali, both with air power and troops in the field.  Even more remarkable than a French-led war effort is the fact that this isn’t even being conducted by a President from the right side of the French political spectrum.  This is a France led by the Socialist Francois Hollande.  And he is doing so despite the fact that Islamic terrorists are now threatening to retaliate against his country, a country that still struggles with a number of “no go” zones.

I know those who tend to be more dovish will never believe this, but very few people enjoy war.  The trouble is that there is an ideology in the Middle East that declared war on western civilization long before we even realized it.  President Bush understood that after September 11, 2001.  Once he left office, it was unclear whether the policy of combating terrorism would continue to be fought as a war.  President Obama’s drone strikes over the last four years and French-led action in 2013 seems to have given us the answer.  We are in a war we don’t want to be in, but the civilized world is fighting back.  That provides a small, but real comfort.

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