Self-described realists would say, “fair enough, the Libyan intervention was messy,” but now that Islamists have taken control of two-thirds of Mali – a vast region of rock and sand in the north that is larger than France – it is time to organize another military intervention to ensure that Mali doesn’t become terrorist haven, like Afghanistan, Yemen, or Somalia.
The Islamists, Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, are a dangerous lot, and tens of thousands of Malians have fled to other countries to avoid them. The Islamists have declared sharia law, and set about destroying ancient Tuareg and Arabic monuments, including the tombs of Muslim saints.
But, as Gregory Mann writes in this week’s Foreign Policy, there is no evidence that the Islamists have a larger agenda than northern Mali. Foreign intervention, as in Libya, may simply make matters worse.