1. Some thoughts on this story about #Mali and Wagner.
2. If it's true and it goes through, I think it likely that Macron would abandon Mali. I know everyone says #Barkhane's ending anyway, but it's not true...but this could make it true for Mali. FR would redeploy to Niger, Burkina, and Mauritania.
3. Would Mali "fall"? Yeah, it just might. I don't see Wagner turning the tide against the jihadists. So what is their purpose? Doubtful anything positive.
4. This also says something about the state of "Françafrique." Back in the day, as they say, Paris would never have let this come to pass. Actions would have been taken. But here it looks like per Reuters, FR is trying to use diplomacy.
5. Implies that Paris might not be the master puppeteer the conspiracy theorists like to believe. At least not like in the glory days of Foccart.

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More from @MichaelShurkin

12 Sep
1. More thoughts on Schoendoerffer's "Dien Bien Phu," which war movie buffs absolutely have to add to must-see lists. Schoen. made an interesting choice in letting an American journalist in Hanoi basically tell the story of the battle.
2. The focus is on his conversations, which become more intense as the convos are with men who keep volunteering to drop into a battle that already is lost. He switches back and forth from those to battle scenes constructed for their visual beauty and pathos.
3. The result is unconventional yet powerful.
Read 8 tweets
12 Sep
1. I've been resisting even so much as thinking about 9/11. I remember it all so vividly. But lately, I've just been angry about how the nation was ready to do something really big. To mobilize for some major national effort. Oh, we all wanted to fight.
2. But Bush told us to go shopping...and made clear that cutting taxes was a higher priority than, say, mounting a major effort in Afghanistan. And of course, some in his administration hijacked the nation's mood for the sake of...
3. ...acting out a fantasy about invading Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. There are various theories about why we did that, and possibly all are true. Iran won that war, and we wounded ourselves grievously while shattering a nation.
Read 8 tweets
12 Sep
Finally getting down to watching Schoendoerffer's Dien Bien Phu.
The whole movie is a series of haunting images.
There's a thread connecting all this to 9/11.
Read 10 tweets
25 Aug
1. This article isn't as crazy as one might think. It correctly points to a big problem in US strategic thinking... alishihabi.com/blog/in-defens…
2....which is the idea that one can put the cart of democracy before the horse of liberal democratic political culture. It takes a while. We forget this in the US because our own liberal democracy was born more or less fully grown from the mother of centuries' old...
3...English political culture. We had it before we became a Republic. In utero. Which explains why our democracy was so stable from the beginning.
Read 9 tweets
24 Aug
1. A 50k-strong "expeditionary force" is huge and super expensive; it would have to be larger than 50k for 50k to be expeditionary, esp. if it's meant to do anything other than NEOs (an army designed to do NEOs would be dumb), and able to stay anywhere for any length of time.
2. FR has the EU's largest expeditionary army. It has 77k "deployable" forces and a total size of 100k. It can maybe sustain 10k-15k in the field indefinitely, though it's debatable.
3. And France doesn't have strategic lift, although its A-400s sort of fit the bill. It had to lease big Ukrainian planes for Serval. So the EU would need to be able to get its hands on C-17s or the like.
Read 4 tweets
23 Aug
1. A shocking number of US policy decisions in 2001-2009 were based on reductionist assumptions about how Pashtuns or Tajiks etc thought, or what they would or would not do as political actors. Whom they would or would not support, etc. Assumptions based on absolutely nothing.
2. Tautologies were the norm. "Everyone says that Pashtuns..." How do we know this to be true? "Because everyone says so."
3. This, for example, is how Karzai got picked and installed on the throne. A series of baseless assumptions translated into selection criteria, which resulted in the USG picking him and sticking with him.
Read 6 tweets

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