Coffee House

Could Mali become Cameron’s third war?

12 January 2013

10:57 PM

12 January 2013

10:57 PM

For a man cutting the military budget so much, David Cameron does seem to like using the Armed Forces. His personal conviction to act in Libya played a major part in deposing Col Gadaffi – after Afghanistan, his second war. And tonight, it looks like there may be a third. He has just offered the RAF support to the French, whose military is trying to oust al-Qaeda from their former colony in Mali. No10 has just released the following statement:-

“The Prime Minister spoke to President Hollande this evening to discuss the deteriorating situation in Mali and how the UK can support French military assistance provided to the Malian Government to contain rebel and extremist groups in the north of the country. The Prime Minister has agreed that the UK will provide logistical military assistance to help transport foreign troops and equipment quickly to Mali. We will not be deploying any British personnel in a combat role…

Both leaders agreed that the situation in Mali poses a real threat to international security given terrorist activity there. They discussed the need to work with the Malian Government, regional neighbours and international partners to prevent a new terrorist haven developing on Europe’s doorstep and to reinvigorate the UN led political process once the rebel advance has been halted.”

It looks like this means lending th French two of the RAF’s C-17s, which are basically flying warehouses. But what could come next? Spectator subscribers will be fully-briefed on Mali. Last September, the impeccably-informed Con Coughin had this to say about future British involvement:-

Word among senior British military officers is that, if it becomes necessary to neutralise the Mali threat, it will be left to our much-vaunted and overworked special forces to take the action required. Britain would not deploy a large combat element of the kind dispatched to Sierra Leone in 2000. As units of the Special Boat Squadron discovered last March, there are no guarantees of success when dealing with Islamist fanatics who think nothing of sacrificing their lives for the al-Qa’eda cause. The SBS were sent to rescue the British hostage Chris McManus, who had been captured by a Nigerian al-Qa’eda cell which had close ties with like-minded terror groups in Mali. He was killed in a gun battle.

Bin Laden came to the world’s attention during the boom years — but his African successors are striking at a time when defence budgets are being eviscerated throughout the Nato alliance. The French approach is immeasurably more proactive than anything you will hear in London or Washington. This approach might suit the bean-counters who now preside over our defence strategy, but it is unlikely to make the world a safer place.

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But Cameron, like Blair, is a great believer in Britain’s armed forces being a force for good in the world (even if he is cutting the MoD budget by twice as much as he is increasing the overseas aid budget). Cameron may have been encouraged by the success of Libya, just as Blair was by the success of Sierra Leone. Hollande is upset because Mali is an ex-colony and home to 6,000 French citizens. But Cameron’s language over Mali (and the death of two French troops there) certainly suggests he also sees this as a shared mission of some kind.

“I am deeply concerned about the recent rebel advances in Mali, which extend the reach of terrorist groups and threaten the stability of the country and the wider region… Last night’s tragic events underline how essential it is that we work together to combat terrorism in Africa.”

The 2000 Sierra Leone operation was led by a Brig. David Richards, now UK military chief. “I could see that with a little robustness, we could make a difference,” he said of his Freetown freelancing. Richards had been told to prepare for an evacuation, and he expanded his brief somewhat and decided to intervene in a civil war. The MoD let him, and it was a great success.

What will the soon-to-depart Richards be thinking, now, about Mali? And might the Anglo-French alliance, so effective in Libya, be applied more heavily in Mali? Over the next few months, we’ll find out.

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Show comments
  • AY

    I afraid his last war will include getting help from French Legion to recapture Luton and Birmingham from “homegrown” jihadists.

  • Noa

    Why not? Every new Labout Prime Minister has to have at least three.

  • HooksLaw

    No is the short answer.
    Cameron inherited Afghanistan – which is a NATO operation not the whim of a single man. Likewise Libya was a NATO operation, spearheaded by US airpower in fact.
    The whole tone of your comment is sick. Pathetic even.

  • Tim

    Just so no

    Let Cameron stick to (not) cutting the deficit

    Is it just me or is this hubristic bullsh1t ?

    • HooksLaw

      its just you

      • Tim

        Back under your bridge troll… Not much happening in your life georgew hook?

        We need no more foreign wars. Vanity projects for neo cons lie private hook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    Why are French nuclear technicians being held hostage in Mali ?

    • HooksLaw

      Mali has uranium reserves. The technicians are mining technicians and were captured I believe in Niger.
      Geologists were captured/ held hostage in Mali

      All this is freely available information.

  • Ron Todd

    Can’t we count the cost of military assistance as part of the overseas aid budget. For every million we spend in Mali spend a million less elsewhere in Africa. Though if Cameron does let us get dragged in deeper say if the French forces get bogged down, then the cost could escalate over our overseas give money away budget.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    Mali is a mess BECAUSE Libya was turned over to disorder – the very thing Ghadaffi feared after his death and why he believed Blair would cut a deal to keep the Islamists at bay. We are starting the Domino Wars and it will need more than a few SBS men to fight those……maybe Cameron is going to lay off soldiers so they can become mercenaries for some private contractor ? Clearly they are creating situations like Libya, Syria in the hope that they can stir up places like Mali and fight perpetual wars as in 1984

    • HooksLaw

      Mali no where near shares a border with Libya. Mali has been seeking and has had good relations with the West for a number of years. Ghadaffi used Malians to fight for him. When they returned with their guns the Army stepped in.

      Your prognostications are infantile.

  • http://300wordtheses.blogspot.co.uk/ Gerry Dorrian

    is the eejit competing with Tony Blair?

  • Youbian

    How dare he cut costs for the forces and then put their lives at risk while he takes money from the elderly here to waste on foreign aid.

    • Charles

      Military intervention is about dealing with the symptoms.

      Foreign aid is intended to try and address the problem before it requires military intervention. It’s a much longer term game, but hopefully will result in a reduced requirement to put British lives at risk in the future.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        In short, if you can bribe politicians to keep the lid on things through DfID so be it; but if your Placemen gets toppled send in the airborne troops…….it is the lesson of Empire and France has never failed to intervene in Africa and their loyal island sidekick is with them yet again

      • MirthaTidville

        Really….It must be a long game, havent seen any improvements in the last 50 years

      • HooksLaw

        You are wasting your breath on the great unwashed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      The entire Income Tax Revenue goes to pay Benefits. 50% Income Tax Revenue pays State Pensions. Military Spending is 66% Interest Expense on National Debt – alternately the State Pension is paid by the entire yield of National Insurance leaving Income Tax to cover the NHS

  • Daniel Maris

    Shouldn’t he be on the side of the Islamic extremists like he is in Syria?

    • HooksLaw

      Thick, and you have the usual suspect as friends.

      • MirthaTidville

        At least he`s got friends….

      • Daniel Maris

        Sorry, I must have got it wrong…the foreign office isn’t supporting the guys in Syria who keep shouting Alluh Akbar as they fire off the AK47s and rocket launchers? Thanks for the clarification, HooksLaw.

  • alabenn

    Most people in the UK do not care about fighting foreign wars, and they will like it even less when the refugees flood here instead of France.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Bambara Translators required ?…………….http://www.uklanguagesolutions.co.uk/translator/b/bambara-translators-oldham.aspx…………..We provide a wide range of professional Bambara translation services
      within Oldham across all public sectors from central government
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  • Colonel Mustard

    What happened to military interventions being agreed by parliament? Or was that just official declarations of war? Or don’t those happen these days?

    • MirthaTidville

      No they have given up on that….Parliament started to ask silly, nonsense questions, you know, like why????

    • HooksLaw

      All the actions are in compliance with UN resolutions and the use of 2 C17s hardly constitutes ‘military interventions’. Keep on with your dreamworld.

      • Colonel Mustard

        How can it be a “dreamworld” to ask questions? And just because the actions comply with UN resolutions doesn’t mean we should undertake them. There is a very old saying that princes without treasure go to war at their peril. Cameron is going to war on a maxed out credit card. He appears incapable of understanding what his priorities should be.

        • HooksLaw

          No one is going to war. Your hysteria knows no bounds. We are helping a NATO ally fulfil a UN resolution with 2 troop transports. You are plain thick and bigoted; every word you utter proves it.

  • Earlshill

    Its almost criminal isn’t it, committing the forces which he has been pivotal in emasculating? If there are deaths in the UK forces deployed arising from this precipitate action from Cameron, I hope that he is subjected to all the criticism that he deserves. That he is reducing numbers and capability at the same time as shovelling taxpayers’ money at corrupt regimes through the ridiculously inflated aid budget only adds to the sense of disgust. Is there no democratic oversight of this PM and his hubristic actions?

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      As much as I agree with the sentiments of being against the reduction of both numbers and capability in the UK’s Armed forces, carried out by several successive governments, I have to take issue with your phrase that Cameron “has been pivotal in emasculating”.

    • HooksLaw

      Our forces are not being emasculated. We are for instance even now investing in hugely powerful aircraft carriers and extremely powerful jets to fly off them. The fact that these projects inherited from Labour leave the budget under strain is not Cameron’s fault.
      Only recently an additional C17 of the type being offered to France came into service. troops are currently being issued with a new Glock sidearm, replacing old Brownings. Work continues developing our trident replacement and the submarines to fire them.

      You talk rubbish.,

      • Noa

        And you are disingenuous.
        If he could Cameron would have cancelled the carriers, still several years away from service, if he could, only one of which will carry still unproven aircraft anyway, in our reduced capability navy.
        And, with mission creep,the services struggle to cater to the liberal vanities of our liberal politicians.

        • HooksLaw

          I believe we should have cancelled the carriers and planes – the money would then be available to rebalance our armed forces differently. But the carriers and planes are being built and will be a powerful force. Therefore our forces are not being ’emasculated’.

          • Noa

            So you think that they should have been scrapped but will be ‘a powerful force?’
            I am amazed at your ability to reconcile these contradictions.

            But then again, perhaps not.

            • HooksLaw

              No contradiction, just you being thick.
              They should have been scrapped – if possible. They are indeed a powerful force which we do not need. We could have build smaller more versatile and cheaper options. These would still have been able to project sufficient power.

              As it is we will have them and they can be used to defend our interests – like in keeping the Straits of Hormuz open. Their costs means we will lose capability in other areas – a smaller army But who are we going to invade? Who is going to invade us? Our army should be dedicated to expanding our strength – Special Forces.

              • Noa

                And you carry on compounding your contradictions!

                Smaller, more effective carriers-that’s actually what we had to 2010

                -They are not needed anyway-really?- Witness the expensive Libya debacle …

                -but we can keep the Straits open…really? The Iranians have had some thoughts about that…
                http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/RDS_201206_Hewson.pdf

                And I assume you would reduce the army to what? A brigade of SF?
                As the defender of Cameron right or wrong you are off message.

                Haven’t you noticed that, having cocked up Libya,he’d like to be involved in Syria and fighting in Mali/ But, having cut the forces to their smallest for 300 years, when we had one fifth of the population, the short sighted idiot has shot himself in the foot on that.
                Or, unfortunately not.
                Still, don’t let your abusive ignorance get in the way of your Idol’s defence.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            Carriers require a group to provide a screen. The Royal Navy lacks surface ships and cannot protect its carriers so it will need French or Italian warships to provide the carrier screen

            • d knight

              Depends on what you are screening against

              The RN will be able to screen the carriers and it has 16 Frigates and Destroyers (at least for the moment…)

              Not that I am arguing that current force levels are in any way adequate ;0)

              Japanese Navy is bigger but they have to deal with the Chinese threat

              Cavour is in no way the equivalent of the new carriers

      • MirthaTidville

        I`m not letting you get away with that simplistic rubbish….The Army slashed in numbers to less than 82,000 whilst using reservists (poorly trained) to make up the numbers. The Royal Navy reduced to having more Admirals than surface fleet.Decent vessels being scrapped and mothballed at huge waste.Its Fleet air arm virtually scrapped. You mention 2 carriers being built..indeed one of them is going straight into permanent lay up/.offered up for sale before fitting out and the `extremely powerful jets` to fly off them project is now in serious doubt itself..Although in the meantime we have no sea /air assault capability. Your hero scrapped the Harriers and the ships that carried them without any replacements available.

        The RAF is still relying on VC10`s and Tristars for air support. One extra C17 may be coming but not yet confirmed. The versatile Harriers gone, Air Sea Rescue to be privatised and dont get me going about the thousands of skilled people binned off to save a few bob. Well I suggest you stick your new glock where the sun dont shine.Troll

        • HooksLaw

          Predictable rubbish. Brown scrapped the Sea Harriers. The C17 arrived in May. Cameron announced an additional one in Feb. We have currently 2, 20,000 tonne helicopter carriers in commission.

          You insult reservists and their whole role is being changed under the reforms. Israel has a total active military of 176,000 compared to our 184,000. Please list the enemies lined up on our borders ready to attack us compared with Israel.

          Because both carriers are using the VTOL version of the F35 its likely both will be operational.
          The decision by Labour to order these carriers was still wrong, but we are stuck with it. They will give us enormous capability. Labour were still wrong to skew the budget in this way – the Tories are left to sort out the mess.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            You must be a dwarf in Central Office to spout such twaddle. Israel’s Army is not very good and cannot fight a sustained war, without swift results its poor combat readiness shows. The TA is not up to it, nor frankly is the British Army…..it has only 30,000 frontline combat soldiers and they are tired…..they are not well-trained and poorly equipped spending too much time playing policemen rather than hard-edged combat soldiers.

            • HooksLaw

              The British Army is not up to it? The israeli army is useless? What a dope you are. What utterly pathetic drivel.

        • Ron Todd

          Would have been better to build a couple of cheap escort carriers for anti-pirate work in the Indian Ocean. The type of war that requires two large fleet carriers is the type of war we could not fight on our own with or without carriers.

          • HooksLaw

            Correct – but tell that to Labour and Gordon Brown. these carriers were promised by ;labour to keep the navy on side and to hold pout the prospect of jobs to Scotland and regularly delayed and thus made more expensive. They were finally ordered as a blatant electoral bribe and with no account of if they were needed or could be afforded.

            A better notion would have been to build a class of smaller modular multi purpose ship which could continue to be built for years and adapted to whatever use the Navy needed, preferably nuclear powered so it could develop steam for catapults. The Navy are to blame as much as Labour.

            The real argument is to condemn our whole defence system for not getting value for money.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Aircraft carriers ? One is to be mothballed. Jets to fly off them ? When ? When the USA finds it cannot afford the F-35 at $237 million a copy they can fly Embraser turbo props off these floating barges

        • HooksLaw

          You are quoting lifetime costs. The unit cost at 2012 prices is $135 million. The planes are predicted to have a lifetime of 50 years. The Typhoon is not far behind.

          But its Labour that tied itself to the F35 and did not order catapults. As specified these ships are extremely powerful – but that is not to say we need them. Equally their presence demonstrates the fatuousness of saying our armed forces are being emasculated.

          And you are out of date, its not now likely that one carrier will be mothballed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.efstathiou Steven Efstathiou

    I watched the news with incredulity tonight. France embarks on a military intervention in Africa, with Britain offering logistical support, all without the authorisation of the UN. Wasn’t this kind of behaviour verbotten, or is it only when the Yanks and Tony Blair are involved?

    • ChristopheLambyPie

      A UN mandate? Like this one, perchance? http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/sc10789.doc.htm

      • http://www.facebook.com/steven.efstathiou Steven Efstathiou

        Thank you, Christopher. Perhaps you’d like to pass on the information to British media organisations, just so they keep us better informed.

        • HooksLaw

          Really – ? Can’t you actually find out for yourself? Or even read this from say the Telegraph, ‘Mr
          Hollande said they would help but strictly within the framework of a
          UN security council resolution.’
          And of course France is there at the request of the Mali govt. anyway.

          Your bleating are of course consistent with the thick ignorance so widely shown on here.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            The Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 “at the request of the Czech Government”

            • http://www.facebook.com/steven.efstathiou Steven Efstathiou

              As did the Russians in Afghanistan and the US in Vietnam – nice precedents, don’t you think?

            • HooksLaw

              You are trying to tell me that Alexander Dubcek invited the Soviets in to depose him?
              The fact that 3 people to date ‘like’ your post shows the prevailing level of ignorance round here.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

                Alexander Dubcek was NOT the Government…….as Wikipedia points out: “a letter of invitation addressed to Soviet authorities and signed by KSČ members Biľak, Švestka, Kolder, Indra, and Kapek. It claimed that “right-wing” media were “fomenting a wave of nationalism and chauvinism, and are provoking an anti-communist and anti-Soviet psychosis.” It formally asked the Soviets to “lend support and assistance with all means at your disposal” to save the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic “from the imminent danger of counterrevolution.”…………….no doubt you think Cameron is Il Duce in Britain

          • http://www.facebook.com/steven.efstathiou Steven Efstathiou

            I wasn’t bleating, I was taking the piss out of the ‘Blair Lied, Billions Died’ crowd. Nice to be informed of the facts, though.

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