Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:38 AM
It was quite a sight today watching French President Francoise Hollande on the streets of Timbuktu reveling in the jubilant cheers of the Malians French troops liberated just days ago from the oppressive rule of a rag-tag bunch of Islamic extremists.
But I could not help thinking as I did that former U.S. President George W. Bush must have been watching from his ranch in Texas – seething with resentment over the fact that this was the kind of greeting he so coveted from the Iraqis but never got. Perhaps you recall that this would-be liberator was actually forced to sneak into Iraq in the dark of night. And when he finally showed his face to the people he “liberated,” he had to duck rather infamously to avoid being hit in his face with a shoe.
Which is why the French can be forgiven a little gloating for managing to provide this textbook example of how to liberate a country from tyranny – especially when juxtaposed with the complete shambles the Americans made of liberation missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, having duly basked in Napoleonic glory, I hope Hollande resists the mission creep that could mislead (or seduce) him into the nation-building folly that was the ruin of Bush and so many other putative liberators.
I just hope France has learned the lessons of Afghanistan; namely, that the war on terror should be about tracking and killing terrorists, not about invading and building nations.
(“Mali, the New Afghanistan?” The iPINIONS Journal, 2013)
So to Hollande I say: take your bow, declare mission accomplished, and go home … your troops in tow for a proper victory parade along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Mali: the next Afghanistan
* This commentary was originally published yesterday, Saturday, at 9:48 pm