[UPDATE] France is at war in Mali, launching air strikes against jihadi forces threatening the country’s fragile (and not very impressive) government. Given the sharp limits on France’s ability to project power, French officials are in discussions with the Pentagon about possible American intelligence and logistics support.
The conflict in Mali is France’s third military intervention in Africa since 2011; besides the Libyan war, French troops were engaged in the Cote d’Ivoire.
The American footprint in Africa is also expanding and the chaotic aftermath of the Libyan war has only increased the threat from radical jihadis in that part of the world. No solution to this problem is in sight; the United States and its allies have some hard slogging ahead. For the people of the region, where political and religious strife has already taken an economic toll, more strife inevitably means more hardship. These problems aren’t pretty, and they aren’t going away.
Meanwhile, hordes of western journalists who know little or nothing about western Africa in general or Mali in particular are descending on the capital. Always worth reading to give a good perspective on this kind of press frenzy: Scoop, by Evelyn Waugh.