Home News Crises in Ukraine or the Sahel are not faced with simplifications – Pierre Haski

Crises in Ukraine or the Sahel are not faced with simplifications – Pierre Haski

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Crises in Ukraine or the Sahel are not faced with simplifications – Pierre Haski

At the time of the Cold War – the first, that between the Americans and the Soviets – any event was framed through the prism of that rivalry, to the point of forgetting the local and historical peculiarities. In the great TV series about the Vietnam War produced in 2017 by Pbs, The Vietnam war, a former US official acknowledges that his country’s main mistake was to look only at the Cold War, without understanding why the Vietnamese were fighting.

Today the world is threatened by the progressive affirmation of an international climate similar to that of then, with the risk of committing the same mistake: considering conflicts only in the light of the rivalry between powers and forgetting their deepest roots. Of course, rivalries between powers exist today more than at any other time since the fall of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago. But they do not explain every phenomenon and above all, by deforming the gaze, they can lead to wrong diagnoses.

The French withdrawal from Mali announced on February 16 is a good example. France retreats, Russia advances… This reading grid has the merit of simplicity and is obviously not entirely wrong, considering the arrival of Wagner mercenaries and the pro-Russian disinformation launched on social networks. But that’s not enough.

Settled layers of conflicts
The situation in Mali cannot be summed up with the Franco-Russian rivalry, just as it is not limited to the offensive of the jihadist groups that have been operating for over a decade.

A crisis like this arises from the sedimentation of traditional conflicts between ranchers and farmers, the colonial legacy, the failure of the forms of government that alternated after independence in 1960 and of course foreign influences, which took advantage of local contradictions to strengthen themselves. in a global match.

Last year, as Kabul fell into the hands of the Taliban, a French researcher, Adam Baczko, published a clarifying book, War by law. Taliban courts in Afghanistan, in which it shows how the Taliban’s Islamic court system preceded their military victory in most of the country.

In one part of the Sahel the same happens. The absence of states, their dysfunctionality or their corruption favor the parallel structures imposed by the newcomers, with brutal rules but capable of restoring order.

What conclusion can we draw? First of all, we must be wary of too simple reading grids that lead to bad choices, as in the era of the First Cold War. The Malian failure offers a good opportunity – at a time when the European Union is renewing its alliance with the African continent – to reconsider a modality of intervention too marked by the colonial and post-colonial period.

But above all, it is necessary to understand the dynamics taking place in the societies of the Sahel, in the east of Ukraine or within the Taiwanese demographic complexity, in order to avoid the pitfalls of reading based solely on the clash between powers.

It is not easy, especially when the main tool available is military. Everyone knows the quote from the American psychologist Abraham Maslow: “If the only tool you have in your hand is a hammer, everything will begin to look like a nail.” It is a reasoning that applies perfectly to geopolitics.

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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