I would have given the blog post a different title as I do not believe
the issue is Mali vs. the West. Henry Kissinger on Diplomacy published
in 1994 by Simon and Schuster, NY, reviews a wide variety of world
events. An interesting one he described is about the American foreign
policy formulation in a post WW1 conference in Paris in 1919 where the
US position was that the War “has resulted not from intractable
geopolitical conflicts but from flowed European practices” (p.19). I
think that is the sense of one of the positions I will attribute to
Coumba Ba, Karim Sylla, and Souleymane Soukouna. They can certainly
rebut me on this. My personal opinion is that but for the actions of
Malians themselves, the conflict that occurred would not have led to the
disaster Mali experienced. That is in a sense, in agreement with Dr.
Kissinger’s presentation of post-war Western foreign policy review.
Kissinger is an inspiring source to understand what went wrong in Mali.
“The success of raison d’etat depends above all on the ability to assess
power relationships” (p.63). Kissinger pursues his analysis by stating
that “…determining the limits of power requires a blend of experience,
and insight, and constant adjustment to circumstance” (p.63). Hopefully,
Malian authorities will heed this advice.
Where I join Talatou Maiga’s arguments is when he leans on various
evidence. In addition to those cited by Mr. Maiga, the French President
Francois Holland in his speech at the France -Africa Summit in December
2013 in Paris (the video on YouTube has been edited); speaking about
Kidal, he stated that “nous avons evite un carnage” (We avoided a
bloodbath). The French history, according to Dr. Kissinger (p.138),
“France sublimed its frustrations for nearly 50 years in the
single-minded pursuit of regaining Alsace-Loraine”. Why then Mali’s
pursuit of maintaining the control of Kidal is made to signify “a
bloodbath”- a false reason for French to take over Kidal through its
proxies without the Malian army like it occurred in other localities in
Northern Mali? What is the historical precedent of a state desire to
recover a part of its territory to be a potential for mayhem?
In conclusion, I believe Mali being weak militarily with a dysfunctional
state should just like France was in 1870-71, “it would always need
allies to defend itself” (p. 138). France and Tchad have been the
leading forces for the defense of Mali. Mali will need those forces for
the foreseeable future. As I see it, the criticism of France is most
likely directed at the Malian leadership for its incapacity to bring
Kidal into its fold. I believe it will happen although no one knows in
what form. France needs Mali and Africa for commerce (see the Videos of
Mr. Holland in Morocco and in RDC at the Francophonie Summit). I do
believe Mali will be with the West not versus the West.