Monday, April 9, 2012

Now I Have a Problem With Lysiane Gagnon

These columnists keep annoying the heck out of me.

Lysiane Gagnon's article on the brewing Mali civil war is, to say the least, opinionated. It's main point is that the intervention in Libya was bad, Canadians were wrong to do it, now it's allowing an Islamist control of northern Mali after a coup d'etat in the south (which, curiously enough, she did not mention once in her article). This is all because Western intervention in other country's affairs is bad and, you know, they were all living peaceful lives before! They even had equality!

Okay, maybe the last part was exaggerated, but she is clearly anti-interventionist. Except I don't get it - how did the Western intervention in Libya initiate all this?

See the key that Lysiane leaves out is that the civil war in Libya wasn't initiated by Western powers - it was an internal movement. We ended up intervening on behalf of the rebels, and while we can never be sure if it would have happened or not, that intervention definitely helped depose Gaddafi.

So really, all that the West did was help speed up a process that was already underway. Whether or not we had intervened, it would've been likely that Gaddafi would've still been deposed eventually, or if he had managed to stay on, the whole nature of the country would've changed from its usual complacency anyways. The level of fighting and separation would've been very hard to overcome.

Directly south we come to Mali. Mali is one of those countries that the Europeans fucked up. It combined an African south with a Taureg/Arab/Bedouin north. The south has large population centres, more resources, and is the political center of the country. The north is a wasteland. There has always been animosity between the regions and the peoples that inhabit them. It was only a matter of time before it boiled over.

Now, the topple of Gaddafi and the flood of arms and veterans, mostly Tauregs, southward to Mali's north, definitely helped embolden the groups there. There's no denying that. And when the southern coup d'etat occurred, it allowed the northern rebels, a secular Taureg group known as the NMLA, and Islamists under the banner of a man named Ancar Dine, to form a fairly unstable but workable alliance to take control of the north. The Malian Army, dealing with coup-related problems and the fact that it's facing against tougher enemies this time than in the past, has failed to gain the upper hand. However, the have greater resources, greater numbers, and better backers than the rebels, and it could only be a matter of time before they regain control.

It's a short summary but here's a fact: the West's intervention in Libya did not directly or even indirectly cause the civil war in Mali to occur. This is anti-interventionist bullshit.

The cause and effect of it all was already underway before the West even thought of intervention. The northern rebels were already preparing to fight, and the Libyan civil war was already occurring. One can make the argument that Western intervention did speed up the process, because it helped topple Gaddafi sooner than expected. But the likelihood of this occurring was still great, no matter what happened.

See, the thing is, and maybe people don't get this, these countries are unstable messes. It's toned down since the new millennium, but the simmering hatreds exist across the continent, based on clan, creed, and geography. It's ridiculous, but it's there. Sometimes, like in Sudan, people find less-violent solutions (though that whole area is still violent as hell). Other times it comes down to fighting. Mali's civil war was already set to occur, it was just a matter of timing.

So no, Lysiane, the "chickens" haven't come home to roost. Western intervention in Libya did not cause this. European arrogance definitely did, but most of those who drew these horrible borders died quite a few years ago. Unfortunately, we can't hold them to account. Doesn't mean we blame a sensible, just decision like helping to topple Gaddafi, in their place.

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