Jan 24, 2013

Mapping a reminiscent non-war in Africa

Trouble in Mali has US and UK forces on alert join a new front in the war on terror. But those rushing to chase al-Qaeda and offshoots in Africa should know the history and complexity.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Maps can be deceiving. It’s long been obvious that the deep-seated Australian fear of “forces to the north” — red menace, yellow peril, boat people, etc — was partly because it appeared they would simply flow down to us, through sheer force of gravity. Now take a look at Mali. The place is shaped like an hourglass, one part in central north Africa, the other right in the middle of coastal west Africa.


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27 thoughts on “Mapping a reminiscent non-war in Africa

  1. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx very much for this, which I found most informative.

  2. crawfordyorke

    further information and funny if you like that sort of humour:

  3. Simon Mansfield

    Of course Guy left out that nearly every country is on board with this intervention. Russia is helping. Nigeria is sending troops. The US govt is happy the French are taking the lead, which kinda messes up the neocon anti-France position from 2003. And instead highlights just how successful US foreign policy has been since 2008 in building multilateral responses.

    Is Guy really the person to be writing about this issue given the neo-Marxist prism he sees nearly ever issue through. For Europe and France in particular – the issue involves refugees and the danger of spill over terrorist attacks into Europe itself. Uranium supplies are really a low priority issue given the very low global price for yellowcake.

    Meanwhile, when it comes to Drones – the new evil of choice to rail against for the left – let’s ignore that prior to modern GPS guided missiles and bombs the usual tactic was to carpet bomb a town, city, country – with extremely high collateral damage levels.

    Modern warfare – while expensive per unit of munition – has probably a 99% lower rate of collateral damage compared to what it was in WW2 for a similar sortie. Absolutely it sucks to be part of that 1% “collateral damage” – but put in context it’s a very different reality to what it was like 40-70 years ago.

    Just for once, can Crikey leave the Brunswick/Marrickville mindset out of its reports on complex international issues and directly interview people who are across the issues rather than selectively cutting and pasting stories together with quotes and text from other media that only justify one’s own pre-judgments on an issue.

  4. John Bennetts

    What Gavin said.

  5. paddy

    Damn you Guy. You’re expected to simplify these matters for the clueless like me.
    Instead, you’ve mercilessly pointed out the devilish complexity of one small part of the African jigsaw.
    Well done!

  6. minnamurra

    Me too! but OMG here we go again……making enemies out of people who could go either way given a different set of opportunities

  7. minnamurra

    Me too! but OMG here we go again……making enemies out of people who could go either way given a different set of opportunities

  8. Mark Duffett

    Maps can be deceiving indeed. I still reckon a significant subliminal part of Cold War fear and overestimation of Russian power was down to inflated perception of its size caused by overuse of the Mercator projection.

    But, while it might be a factor, I wonder whether France is all that worried about its uranium supplies. Uranium comprises only a small fraction of the costs of building and operating power plants (such is its energy density), and other countries (not least Australia) will be happy to oblige. The stuff isn’t that rare.

  9. j.oneill

    As useful a summary as this is, it still does not cover the full complexity of the issue. For those interested there have been some excellent articles recently by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent (UK) and Pepe Escobar in Asian Times online.

    Just as an illustration, Mr Rundle does not discuss the agenda of the Americans who now have troops in 37 African countries. Their motives are the usual ones: control of resources and blocking Chinese advances among African countries. One also has to question why the Malian president was overthrown five weeks before an election in which he was not standing for re-election? It is of course just a coincidence that the coup officers had all been trained in the US.

  10. Simon Mansfield

    Australia like Africa will be so much better under Chinese rule. Where shall we base the PRC troops. Mt Isa, Cubbie Station, Pilbara. Just weird what the left of today has become.

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