Invasion of Mali

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Just War Theory Applied to the French Engagement in Mali

In January of 2013, France started a military mission in Mali. With the increasing power of the Al Qaida in Northern Mali as a result of the fall of the Libyan regime, the Malian government appealed to France to intervene. This paper seeks to prove that this intervention is not a just conflict using the Just War Theory jus ad bellum.

I will outline the requirements of a just war jus ad bellum and delineate the main events in the conflict in Mali. I will then point out the requirements of the Just War Theory jus as bellum that have not been fulfilled in order to demonstrate the injustice of this conflict.

The Just War Theory was a theory developed internationally to determine the fairness of these conflicts. Jus ad bellum includes seven requirements for a just war. These include a just cause, proportionality, a reasonable chance of success, a legitimate authority, last resort, and there must be a public declaration of war. (Frowe 2011)

As the story behind the conflict in Mali begins to unfold, it’s relationship to the fall of the Libyan regime becomes more clear. In January 2013, France began a military mission in France. After finding that air strikes were not a strong enough deterrent, they sent ground soldiers to Mali to help combat the Islamic extremists in the North of Mali.

In Mali there are two main ethnic groups. There are the Tauregs, who make up about 10% of the population and live in the saharan North of Mali (Dyer 2012), and then there is the majority black population that live in the Southern areas of Mali. When Gaddhafi was in power in Libya, many ethnically Berber Tauregs faught in his army. (Jones 2013) After he his regime fell, the Tauregs returned to Mali with their military expertise. The weapons that were held by the Libyan regime were also put on the black market where they were quickly picked up by Al Qaida members who have found a safe haven for themselves among the Tauregs in the vast deserts of Northern Mali (New York Times 2013). The possession of this new weaponry and power gave them momentum to begin their downward movement, slowly taking over small Southern Malian cities.

At the beginning of 2013 in January after the recent arrest and resignation of the Malian Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra in mid-December, new sworn in Prime Minister Diango Cissoko appealed to France to control Islamic extremists in Northern Mali. (New York Times 2013) Only one week later, the Security Council unanimously agreed on a resolution to send troops to Mali.(New York Times 2013) France responded to this appeal and sent ground soldiers initiating this military mission to expel Islamic extremists from Mali.

In order to determine whether the French decision to send its military to Mali, one must look at the cause of this mission. There are only two examples of a just cause for war: self defense, and humanitarian aid. In this case, there has been no imminent military threat to France. In order to use self defense, the threat must be instant, overwhelming and leaving no thought for deliberation. In this case, there was no direct threat from Al Qaida members and in fact violence was relatively low in comparison to the government’s acts of aggression against the population. Many of the city takeovers were done without violence. Only a small fraction of the number of people who have been killed in the last few weeks were killed in politically motivated conflict prior to France’s engagement in Mali. Although there was a threat to the Malian’s Southern lands, it was hardly one that left no time for deliberation. Something else to consider is that the pursuit of natural resources or the imposition of religious change are considered unjust causes of war.

The other case of a just cause for war is for humanitarian aid. When international peace and security is threatened, the UN Security Council can vote for intervention. States are allowed...
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