Thursday, January 24, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, January 24, 2013

Being drawn inexorably, inexplicably into Mali’s war

Slowly, inexorably, Canada and the world are being drawn into Mali.

The wise people say intervention is necessary. They say we must prevent the West African nation from becoming a springboard for terrorist attacks on Europe.

The wise people almost always say intervention is necessary. Fifty years ago, equally wise people urged intervention in Vietnam to prevent what was then called the “domino effect” — the fall of Southeast Asia to Communism.

We all know where that went.

Today, the dominoes of North Africa are said to be in danger from Islamic terrorists.

For practical politicians, all of this is a nightmare. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the American public is loath to involve itself in another war. As a result, Washington speaks softly and carefully.

Canadians, too, have been made weary by the Afghan experience. Prime Minister Stephen Harper knows that. That’s why his office has been so reluctant to admit that Canada’s very, very limited commitment to the war in Mali is gradually expanding.

Ottawa originally agreed to send one cargo plane for one week to help French troops in Mali. The French have now publicly asked for more. Mali’s ambassador to Canada says Harper agreed to expand its commitment. The prime minister almost certainly has. As the head of a government allied to France, he doesn’t have much choice. (Source: KW Record)