Daily Archives: January 16, 2013

The French intervention in Mali

Why has France intervened militarily in Mali and what is at stake? William Wallis, Africa editor; Hugh Carnegy, Paris bureau chief, and Xan Rice, FT correspondent in west Africa, join Gideon Rachman.

Getty images

I just did a quick Google search to see if the French are already talking of Mali as a potential quagmire and – yes indeed – there are several pages worth of references to “le bourbier Malien” (bourbier being the evocative French word for quagmire.)

It is easy to see why they are worried. The early air strikes have already given way to military action on the ground. As Hugh Carnegy, our Paris bureau chief explained to me for my World Weekly podcast, the French have a three-stage strategy. First, stop the rebel advance. Second, re-take the north of the country. Third, leave behind a stable country. Read more

On Wednesday, Barack Obama outlined his plans to tighten controls on gun ownership after the Sandy Hook school shooting. Those in favour of greater gun control hope January 16 2013 could be a turning point; those who want further relaxation of gun regulation will do everything they can to make sure it’s just one more day in a long-running battle. Here are ten key moments that have shaped the debate thus far:

1) 1791: The Second Amendment (or, the birth of a very ambiguous string of words)
The Bill of Rights – which includes 10 amendments to the 1787 US Constitution – was adopted in 1791. The Second Amendment reads:

The Bill of Rights (image courtesy US National Archives)

The Bill of Rights (image courtesy US National Archives)

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This would become a sacred text for the gun rights lobby.

2) 1871: The National Rifle Association is founded (or, promoting good marksmanship)

The NRA was created in 1871 by two men, Colonel William C. Church and General George Wingate, veterans of the Civil war who had fought for the North and who felt that soldiers should be trained to shoot more accurately. Contrary to what you might think, the original NRA wasn’t actually the American one: the British National Rifle Association was set up in 1859 “to provide a focus for marksmanship for the newly formed corps of volunteers which had been raised to meet the perceived threat of invasion by the French”. Read more

Today’s reading recommendations from around the world.  Read more