A tough question, given the failure of interventions elsewhere. Skeptics
will point to Afghanistan where the Taliban remains powerful after thousands
of coalition deaths and spent treasure.
But there is a difference. The Afghanistan intervention began as an attack
on Al Qaeda, but evolved into a confrontation with the indigenous Taliban.
Indigenous is the key word. The Taliban are at home in Afghanistan and have
never been displaced by a foreign power. Staying so long and pretending to
be winning was never a pragmatic choice for Western leaders.
At this moment, in Mali, it is the rapid influx of foreign Al Qaeda fighters
that must be stopped. State failure is imminent. Should that occur,
civilians will be further endangered and extremists will be able to launch
terrorist attacks at will, a dangerous turn. Canada and the West have an
immediate interest in blocking this take-over, as France has understood.
There is a small window of opportunity now. The Canadian government is right
to become (cautiously) involved.