Mali an ‘ill-defined exercise in interference’

Mission creep has set in for Canada’s one-week commitment to support foreign military intervention in Mali.

To the editor:

Canada’s one-week commitment to support foreign military intervention in Mali had not even expired when mission creep set in. Prime Minister Harper is now considering sending a second plane on this most misbegotten of adventures.

Some days ago I read the words of Gerald Caplan, who has a Ph.D. in African history, has been a consultant on African development issues to many United Nations agencies as well as to the African Union, and has written at length on genocide and genocide prevention.

He wrote: “Mali ranks 175th of 187 countries on the UN’s 2011 Human Development Index, has grown obscenely unequal in the past decade, and its democracy resembled a Potemkin’s village. But what Mali does have is gold in the south, much of it being mined by Canadian companies, and the hope of oil in the north…What’s happening in Northern Mali and surrounding areas is in reality extremely complex, worlds beyond the simplistic narrative of marauding al-Qaeda terrorists. That foreign military intervention is capable of ‘fixing’ the crisis, whatever that means, seems wildly unrealistic, though I certainly don’t pretend to know what might.”

I trust Mr. Caplan when he defines Mali by its human poverty, rich natural resources and deficit in democracy, and when he says that foreign military intervention is the wrong response to the extremely complex crisis in that country.

As Harper seeks “broad consensus” from the Canadian public and from opposition parties on whether and how to extend the mission in Mali, we need to respond by writing to him, Defense Minister Peter Mackay, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the leaders of the opposition parties as well as our own MP, telling them to pull Canada out immediately from this ill-defined exercise in interference.

Dianne Varga,



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