Canada in Mali?

For all those arguing for a Canadian intervention in Mali, be it of the support, training or full warfare mode, an article by Max Fisher entitled “Is Mali another loss for counterinsurgency?” published in the Washington Post is instructive. Essentially, the United States was in the troubled northern Mali region doing training well prior to the current insurrection. However, many of their trainees defected to the rebels bringing their U.S.-supplied weapons with them. The leader of the recent military coup that many suggest sparked the recent insurrection was also U.S.-trained, according to this report.

My comment is not intended to argue against intervention, especially if it is focused on training. However, what this article does suggest is that a great deal of preparation and intelligence gathering is needed prior to entering into any form of counter-insurgency mission even if the threat seems imminent.  The results may go beyond simple failure.

Having perhaps learned its lesson in Mali (and Afghanistan), the U.S. has apparently opposed France’s recent ‘frontal assault’ into Mali, warning, according to an article in The New York Times entitled “French Strikes in Mali Supplant Caution of U.S.” that “a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe.”

Great caution should underlie any thoughts of a Canadian mission here.