Again, Mali

Reuters reports that the European Union will “speed up” plans for a military training mission in Mali, and will meet on Thursday in Brussels to consider their options. The upheaval in Mali, according to the EU, poses a security threat to Europe, and that awareness rather than humanitarian concerns seems to be the motivator.

Begun as a separatist movement by Tuareg nomads, the Mali insurgency has been taken over by al Qaeda-affiliated Islamist groups whose announced goal is control of the entire country. Neither the neighboring countries (Algeria, Mautitania, Niger, Burkina Faso), with restive Tuaregs and militant Islamists within their own borders, not the European powers (not to mention the U.S.) that would be the targets of the state-sponsored terrorism that would arise, want things to go any further. I don’t either, but not for reasons of national self-interest.

Timbuktu. It’s always been THE place for me that is as far away, in every sense, as you can get from wherever you are, and many times that is all that I’ve wanted — to get as far away as I can from where I was. Like a fantasy of sailing away, I’ve often gained solace just thinking “Well I’ll just go to Timbuktu.” And now the Islamists are destroying it.

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