It has been confirmed that the UK will be sending troops into Mali. As if we don’t have enough problems in Afghanistan creating the terrorists whom we are meant to be fighting, David Cameron reckons that helping the French and Malian forces fight Islamists is surely the way forward. A spokesman for the PM said on Monday,
“The prime minister made clear that we fully support the French government’s actions working with the Malian government at their request to deny terrorists a safe haven in Mali. The prime minister went on to explain that we are keen to continue to provide further assistance where we can, depending on what French requirements there may be.”
Whilst the PM has said that British troops will not enter a combat role, he is known for talking a big pile of crap so I may be forgiven for being concerned about mission creep. From the public perspective, the mission has already crept. Only a few days ago, words were carefully used to give the impression that troops would not be sent to Mali “in a combat role”. But that looks set to change.
Now Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, has said,
“I can assure the house that we will not allow UK personnel to deploy on any mission until we are satisfied that adequate force protection arrangements are in place.”
So, depending on “what French requirements there may be” and providing “adequate force protection arrangements are in place”, British troops could well find themselves in a combat role.
Whether or not you agree with intervention in Mali (these Islamists are a pretty nasty Taliban-style bunch after all), I suspect that there are ulterior motives behind Britain’s sudden desire to to help the French (note that they are helping the French, not the Malians). I have not seen it said in the press so far, but I’m prepared to go out on a bit of a limb with this one. There are two reasons why we are going into Mali. Neither has anything to do with helping Malians. The first is incidental and obvious – Dave wants to flex his Terror-destroying muscles on the international stage.
The second is the real reason. Cameron is generating a huge amount of backlash against his latest Eurosceptic scheme – “renegotiating” terms with the EU and the in/out referendum. The only country, inside or outside the EU, which is even mildly understanding of this mental policy objective is Germany. The French President, Francois Hollande, has led a scathing attack on Cameron’s plans:
“What I’ll say, on behalf of France and as a European, is that it isn’t possible to bargain over Europe to hold this referendum,”
The mildly astute among you may be able to see where I am going with this. In pledging a blank-cheque for support of the French intervention in Mali, Cameron is hoping that he can garner a softer approach from the French President. This way, with France and Germany more amenable to negotiation, his whole plan might actually allow him to run a referendum where we stay in the EU – reaping all the benefits whilst retaining and entrenching our ‘special’ status.
It isn’t really all that much of a stretch to believe this interpretation of events. If you don’t think that political favours are the mainstay of politics, then you don’t know a thing about the subject. But he is playing with peoples’ lives here, playing a god in a pantheon of other gods. But Cameron and the rest of the pantheon are far from gods.