We have received two emails about the article on Mali in last month’s issue. One said that it gave the impression of approving the French intervention and asked if this was the
Socialist Party’s position or just that of the writer. The other criticised the article for ‘giving theocratic reasons for a materialistic event, a war, indeed denying there are any material causes’ adding that ‘the statement that there is no oil in Mail is simply untrue’.
The Socialist Party does not support armed intervention by any capitalist state. The article was essentially informative and descriptive and the author simply recorded that most Malians seem to approve of the intervention. This was a factual statement, not an expression of support.
Regarding the reasons for the intervention, the key thing is that the internal conflict in Mali isn’t a simply mechanistic one over economic resources. While there is oil it would probably cost more to get it out of the ground that it can be sold for, like a lot of oil, and hence why none of the major capitalist powers have shown a developed interest in it despite colonisation in the 19th century. That was the point the author was trying to make. A bigger factor was probably elements in the North hostile to the general interests of the Western capitalist powers controlling the area and who wanted to impose sharia law. In short, although we don’t think the conflict is mainly about narrow economic issues there are, of course, material factors in the background explaining why factions in the country have developed the way they have, as was explained in the article – Editors