In light of Macron's decision to transform Barkhane into something else, I'm re-upping this piece I wrote way back in 2015 on why most military interventions aimed at stabilization usually fail. Whatever Barkhane turns into, it's unlikely to do better. 1/…
The 1st reason is that--as in previous interventions and like other intervenors--French policymakers misunderstand or ignore a lot of the state-society dynamics at work in driving jihadist insurgencies. They view conflict through the "grand narrative" of a war on terrorism. 2/
The 2nd reason is that no outside intervenor can (re)build local state legitimacy, which can only be an internal process, especially if their role buttresses social and political orders which generate insurgency and violence as the French have done throughout the Sahel 3/
The 3rd reason is that interventions aiming to support local political orders can introduce destabilizing dynamics into those very systems--eg the way Barkhane and foreign intervenors have helped militarize regional politics 4/
The 4th reason is that foreign intervenors can't substantially "improve" local security forces whose effectiveness or ineffectiveness has inherently political causes linked to the nature of their states. 5/
And finally, even decisive military success can, in these conditions, only be accomplished at the expense of protecting the existing political order which generated the crisis to begin with. Intervenors may live with this, but the affected populations may not.

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More from @natkpowell

24 Aug 20
Apropos of nothing, here's an order from Paris to the commander of French forces in Chad not to intervene to stop a coup d'état against François/N'Garta Tombalbaye in April 1975. There has long been speculation about the French role in the coup.
From what I have gathered from French records, first-hand accounts, and American sources, the French may have known something was brewing in the day or two preceding the coup, but were not involved. Tombalbaye had threatened to purge the security services and that was enough.
To some extent though, the French certainly welcomed the change in regime, as Tombalbaye's methods of governance and frequently testy relations with Paris often got on French nerves. They wasted little time in recognizing the military regime that replaced him.
Read 13 tweets
22 Dec 19
The old “colonial taxes” trope is making the rounds again regarding the CFA franc and Franco-African relations. It’s a misguided, and perhaps even counterproductive way to understand France’s peculiar role in postcolonial Africa. 1/
First, since 1960 the Franco-African relationship has been the most clearly neocolonial of all postcolonial relations b/t former African colonies and colonizers. French preferences for authoritarian regimes and single-party states has had destructive long-term effects. 2/
French military interventions in particular have consistently bolstered authoritarian regimes, and generally bought short-term stability at the cost of longer term instability. 3/
Read 18 tweets

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