Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Will Mali Become the next Afghanistan?

When NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 their objective was to get rid of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida fighters. This was soon successfully achieved. But 12 years later, NATO forces are still bogged down in a war that they will not win. Meanwhile, the war had totally unexpected outcomes, particularly the destabilizing of a nuclear armed and fragile Pakistan. The situation in Pakistan has become so violent that the response of the USA is more violence, by means of President Obama’s weapon of choice, the drone. The use of the drone has made Obama the world’s leading assassin.

When NATO forces bombed Libya in 2011 their objective was to get rid of Gaddafi and his henchmen. This was soon successfully achieved. But that war is now seeing some totally unexpected outcomes. Many of Gaddafi’s soldiers were Tuareg tribesmen form Mali.  Out of a job and persecuted in Libya, they have now returned home to Mali, well-armed and seething with rage. Islamic jihadists have joined the fray, and Mali’s fledgling democracy has been brought to an end in a military coup. This week, with the blessing of the UN, France, a member of NATO, has sent its troops into Mali to fight yet another Muslim enemy.  Mali has become the Pakistan of the area. It now looks like it is about to become the Afghanistan of West Africa.

We lurch from military crisis to crisis, most of them of our own making. One can only wonder what the unexpected outcomes of this military intervention will be.

Article first published as Mali: The Next Afghanistan on Technorati

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Put down, but never discarded

There are books, read in youth, the content of which we still remember decades later. And there are books, of which the act of reading itself can be vividly recalled as if it were yesterday. It was July 1980. I had been travelling for three years. In the multitudinous din that was India, I was alone. Emaciated, jaded and worryingly low on funds, I arrived in the holy city of Madurai. Near the grand temple I found a room in a cheap hotel, a loveless place called Venus...

If you would like to read the rest of my article which appeared in Australia this morning, just click here.