Coffee House

The Americans accuse the French of being too ambitious in Mali as British involvement grows

26 January 2013

12:16 PM

26 January 2013

12:16 PM

It might have been pushed down the news agenda this week by David Cameron’s Europe speech and the bad economic news, but the situation in Mali is offering us a preview of the next decade in international relations. This decade will, William Hague warns in The Times today, be far more dangerous than what we have seen so far this century. This is a sobering statement when you consider that in the last 13 years we have had 9/11, 7/7, Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the striking things about the Mali mission is it shows how the US is far less interested in playing the role if global policemen these days. The New York Times reports today that the Obama administration thinks that the French aims in Mali are too ambitious. It is also holding back refueling support for the French on the grounds of cost; a striking example of how American priorities are changing.

Hague today argues that the West’s role in Mali will be akin to its role in Somalia not Afghanistan and that there are ‘no plans’ to send in British troops. But it is worth noting that British involvement is steadily increasing with the government revealing yesterday that it has sent a spy plane to the region.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Ken Simmonds

    The thing that worries me about the intervention in Mali is that so far it has all been too easy. The Islamists are very sensibly retreating before the advancing French hordes. The French will proudly declare mission accomplished and then the guerilla war will begin and last forever.
    Learn from what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Remittance Man

    The New York Times reports today that the Obama administration thinks that the French aims in Mali
    are too ambitious. It is also holding back refueling support for the
    French on the grounds of cost; a striking example of how American
    priorities are changing

    Of course, having had to effectively pull the eu’s noogies out of the fire in Yugoslavia and also provide much of the technuical backup – refuelling, ELINT and so on – for the Libyan adventure what we could be seeing is an America that has grown tired of helping the Euros when they refuse to help themselves.

    To have the sort of expeditionary warfare capability the US has* it appears a nation needs to spend between 4 and 5% of GDP. The average for the big four European nations is less than 2%. Even Britain and France (the two most “aggressive” of the Europeans) spend less than 2.5% of their GDP on defense.

    The septics are simply saying to the Europeans that if they want to run around places hot and dusty acting like Beau Geste, they’d better find the cash for it themselves because Uncle Sam is tired of paying it for them.

    *The tankers, electronic warfare aircraft, drones, transport aircraft, helicopters and the mobile logistics infrastructure that enable these things to be deployed. Things the Euros need if their capability is ever to match their ambitions.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Well, that’s all well and good, but those things will all have to go on the back burner until more critical issues are addressed, like:


      Global Warming.

      Gay Marriage.

      Foreign Aid to Zimbabwe.

      High Speed Trains and new floating airports.

      Benefits for children of legal and illegal immigrants.

      You know, important stuff like all that.

      • AY

        well, this is the cud given to human cattle to chew – approved by the “civilization dialogue” authorities. even if it is about France, we must discuss it as if it is about something else. America, or whatever. we are said and taught to live among these piles of mental garbage, it is supposed to be perceived as normal. incapacitated by the relativism, we shouldn’t be able to come to any undesired conclusion. this is the idea.

  • eeore

    This reminds me of the the reporting during the Libyan war.

    If you bought into the MSM reporting which was largely regurgitated press releases you may have believed that the air war was concentrated from a hand full of airfields in southern Italy. If you bothered to follow the plane spotters on twitter you could follow the attacks coming out of France and Cyprus, the diplomatic planes – and by following the shipping news, you would know that it was complete nonsense about an American carrier force being off the Libyan coast, as they had not – and had not applied to do so – passed through the Suez canal.

  • AY

    this is YOUR army not enemy army.
    so don’t say “spy plane”, say “reconnaissance plane”.
    oh and French in Mali are not “too ambitious”, they are there to protect life and liberty of people. including yours and mine. if not stopped in Mali, jihadists one day will arrive to Paris and London, distribute candies to children and declare sharia, as they did in Mali.
    is this “journalism” a result of some sharia compliant brain transplant?

    • Jon Howarth

      My friend, the Jihadists are already in London, and mostly on social security.

  • Barbara Stevens

    I don’t want any involvement at all. We’ve enough on our plate as it is, and he costs are rising. Obama, will not spend any more money than he as to, well he’s not got much. He’s got no love or Europe at all, his foreign policies are really zero. The world is a more dangerous place with him at the helm. It will be a policy of look and watch, pass comments but do nothing. The supposedly world power, is losing it’s momentum, with him in the Whitehouse. With what the world faces we need a strong USA, we are sorely lacking that with him as president. He does not like the UK, he revels in history, and the old empire days, long gone, thank God, we don’t want that back; but to him it rankles when he thinks of his father in Kenya. How much he actually knew him is suspect.
    No the so called special relationship has been destroyed since his appointment in the Whitehouse, yet, we still remain one of his most constant and reliable alies, perhaps some one should remind him of that before it’s to late. The UK as done its fair share of protecting freedoms in this world, may be its time others took up the mantle.

    • eeore

      His father was never in Kenya.

      And I don’t know why you are so against him as he is a sleeper put in by MI6 and the KGB to counteract the US policy of MAD.

  • HooksLaw

    Sending a spy plane is really increasing our involvement? Yeah.

    Otherwise the usual brainless comments.

    • Tom Tom

      You mean an ELINT plane ? Funny really when you read “The UK government’s Strategic Defence and
      Security Review announced its intention to “withdraw the Sentinel
      airborne ground surveillance aircraft once it is no longer required to
      support operations in Afghanistan.”

      • eeore

        It is clearly a stroke of luck that it is ‘needed’ in Mali.

  • HooksLaw

    Obama has just appointed Kerry as Secretary of State. Batten down the hatches.

  • Curnonsky

    The American government is torn between viewing this conflict as part of the War on Terror and their natural tendency as good lefties to side with the indigenous against the hated Europeans. Since they have already decided that the wave of jihad that has swept aside the Arab Spring is nothing to be concerned about it does look like the Frogs will be left holding the bag.

  • Eddie

    The French eh?
    The same French who deliberately stayed out of the liberation of Iraq, so they could get the rebuilding contracts from Arab governments?
    The same French who have constantly sniped from the sidelines when the Brits or Yanks get involved in conflicts overseas.
    Hoist by their own petard, good n proper then eh?
    The Americans have always been isolationist. Let’s not forget thet didn;’t enter WWII until December 1941, and only then when Hitler declared war on them.
    Terrible what’s happening with Islamism in Africa – but then, the USA and we have funded and supported the Islamist opposition to Gadafi and the totalitarian (but stable and secular) dictatorships in north Africa and the Middle East. Now we are opposed to a Syrian leader who tolerates those of all religions and want to support the Islamists there.
    Mad mad mad mad mad.
    But of course we should not send troops to Mali. Let the French get a bloody nose, for once.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Actually, the US was in a shooting war with the Nazis much earlier than December 1941.

      And considering that and their strange involvement in the European war in 1917, I’d question the use of the term “isolationist” to describe them. With hundreds of bases scattered around the world, it certainly doesn’t fit now or then.

    • HooksLaw

      Why would the new iraq government give France rebuilding contracts if they refused to overthrow Saddam?

      • Tom Tom

        B R I B E R Y

  • Coffee House the Wall

    Cameron is just Blair.
    The megalomania of office sets in.

    • HooksLaw

      The bell rings for another of Pavlov’s dogs.

    • Noa

      Here’s a reminder of just what Cameron’s priorities are.

      • telemaque

        Boot of course a disciple of the Barnhardt girl.
        A good argument for a Leveson Report on the blogosphere.

        • Noa

          The Stalinist troll, totalitarian by nature, advocates censorship and thought control. And would no doubt locate his ‘correctional facilities’ in Katyn…

          • telemaque

            We just need to purify the minds of our young
            I remember the youth of Munich in 1935

  • Tom Tom

    The French have a refuelling system incompatible with German tankers and the Us wants France to pay $19 million for facilities. I suspect the French use the boom for refuelling and the Germans use the probe-and-drogue but I am not sure so the French need the Us or else to base their jets in Africa rather than flying from France. Of course Algeria could simply rescind overfly rights and the problem is solved. Maybe France should move its jets to Nigeria ?

    • the viceroy’s gin

      They’re already flying jets out of Chad.

      I think the frogs want Uncle Sugar to pay for this show, but Uncle Sugar is balking.

      • eeore

        Maybe it is the other way around.

        Still the morons being bred by Uncle Sugar could always have another Kony style fund raiser to pay for some contractors.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          It’s never the other way around.

          Uncle Sugar didn’t get that name for no good reason.

  • alan eastwood

    Just remember Suez!

  • Andrew Taylor

    I suspect that the ‘real’ reason that the US is not inclined to bust a gut for the French is more about payback for the French being extremely difficult to deal with over the past decade or so. My experience has been that when the French are involved, they stand apart from everyone else and there is always an agenda. It’s in their nature to be like that, but it is exasperating to put up with. The Americans are less tolerant than we are.

    • Steven Efstathiou

      It’s also likely that the French will cut and run at some point, leaving a patsy to carry the can. ‘Call Me Dave’ fits the bill perfectly.

      • Tom Tom

        The US has been in Mali for years

      • anyfool

        Just like we did in Basra and Helmand and for the same reason, a useless socialist government, Hollande like Blair and Brown wants to look macho but will not get their lily livered hands dirty, hence the rules of engagement, shoot second if you are still alive, all to placate the legions of Muslims in both France and the UK.
        Votes count more than lives with these people.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, and the frogs have little real political pull in the region, as the Algerian operation clearly demonstrated. If US nationals and other foreigners are to be slaughtered without consideration, with the frogs standing impotent, it’s clear other nations better tend to their own knitting, and not trust frog diplomacy or politics to guard their interests.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    I doubt the US is interested in the map lines drawn up a century ago by the colonialists. The frogs have financial interests in southern Mali, and 5-10,000 of their citizens. No reason to allow the islamofascists to expand into that territory by force of arms, and that appears to be what’s happening. But reconquering the desert of northern Mali? Why bother? Let the islamofascists and the scorpions have it. And negotiate with the Tauregs and see if they can be brought on side.

    The old colonial map lines are being obliterated to the East, why respect them to the West?

  • John_Page

    “a spy plane”

    I wonder how many we’ve got these days.

    • Bluesman

      5 – at least we paid for 5.

      • Jelly Jim

        For the time being…

        • Bluesman