France stumbling badly in Mali

The recent French incursion into Mali, with insufficient troops, insufficient logistical support, insufficient intelligence and insufficient drone capabilities while targeting a determined insurgent Muslim terrorist organization reportedly affiliated with Al Qaeda is a stark reminder of just how inept the French government can be.

The French military cannot bear the sole responsibility, since no military man in history would go into another nation unless they believed that they had complete military superiority.  Civilian leaders of nations (read: politicians), on the other hand, almost invariably think that they can "smart" there way out of any difficult situation - even one of their own creation. 

The French have called on NATO allies to aid them in this effort.  Of course that call for help in invading another nation came after the invasion had begun.  The call for aid ignores the fact that the NATO treaty is an agreement among NATO allies to come to the defense of each other if attacked.  It does not require aid from any signatory of the treaty for another member nation that unilaterally goes to war. 

But the French government is pleading for help in subduing a potential insurgent takeover of one of their former colonies, which is independent and democratic. 

At the same time, it would appear that the French government has been so busy raising taxes to the point that those targeted by those very taxes have decided to invade Belgium to avoid being victims of this very tax.  Unlike Mali, however, Belgium is welcoming these economic invaders with open arms.  And by losing those that guide and nurture French businesses, unemployment in France, which is not the healthiest to begin with, will only add to the domestic unrest in their own nation.  And as always in such situations, it is the lowest socio-economic class of people who suffer. 

In France, this means that the Muslim immigrant population will bear the brunt of any employment cuts.  Muslims in France are already restive, and prone to rioting.  Add to this propensity for violence the idea (that Muslim propagandists will undoubtedly broadcast) that their co-religionists in Mali are being persecuted by the French government; one can only imagine the potential carnage that will develop.

So, to sum up, the French government decides to go to war in a Muslim nation, but to do so has to reduce its security forces within its own borders to a serious enough extent that they have to call for help from those it considers "allies". 

Of course those nations being asked for help are only "allies" when France needs something.  Otherwise when those other nations need French assistance, their phone seems to go unanswered. 

The result is that at a time when French security forces are reduced at home to deal with their action in Mali, they are in real danger of jihadist agitators fomenting violence within France itself and with a greatly reduced ability to respond to such violence.

Perhaps this sounds unfeeling, but it would seem that the French government (again read: politicians) should concentrate on making cheese and wine and cooking, and try to avoid any adventures of a geo-political nature.  They're pretty good at food and cooking, but in world politics, it doesn't look like they have a real handle on how to do it.

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter.  Jim blogs at, or he can be contacted directly at