Lets not be mistaken here. The French did not attack out of the blue. Mali have asked for help to the UN previously. Help that has been "granted" but under an agenda: Lets try to speak first and punch later if needs be.
The only thing the French did is to skip a few months on the calendar. But they do have the UN approval. So they are not illegal in their action. (Not like the US in Irak but lets pass this one now).
This fight of the French against the Muslim radicals is not new. Back in the colonialist time the French had won against the Muslims there in 1850s. And this victory sealed the French supremacy on that part of Africa.
This particular part of Africa is very French sensitive. Most of the countries there are former French colonies. They speak French. They have economic ties with Paris. And there is French citizens working there. So it is understandable that the French feels compelled of doing something. And their need for speed of action can be understood too. Look at the following map of Mali.
The Islamists are in the north of the country. But in the last weeks, they defeated the Malian army and took control of Mopti region (in the center). By doing so they literally cut the country in two and the road to the capital Bamako is wide open. And since the capital has no access to the north. It leaves the Islamists to do their "re education", religious cleaning, indoctrination or what ever is their aim with the local population. Nor to say that if the Islamists are left to progress and take Bamako. Then the country falls. And it is much harder to take back an entire country than being invited in by the president and fight pockets of enemies.
Thus the French fast intervention to stop the advance first. And second: push them back to some retrenchment pockets so the capital can have access to the North of the country. That way the population won't have time to be exposed to the Islamists for long and deeper problem are avoided such as population suffering from the Stockholm syndrome and start defending their invaders instead of their liberators (by choice, by fear or by indoctrination... what ever).
But is that all there is? Is it worth it to spend billions in defending a country that has merely no natural resources? Risking killing its own solders in the process. And not to say that France is already... lets say... challenged by a national debt and an anemic economy? I mean they are spending billions that they don't have. A luxury they cannot afford. All that to defend a country that has significantly nothing to offer as retribution?
I mean lets take the US intervention in Irak. USA didn't have the money either. They are stretched financially to. But there is the oil! Millions of barrels that helps paying for the war.
There must be something else.
I know the French said that they are doing it for Mali's democracy. And to protect the population. And to protect the French citizens that are already there. And to stabilize the region. Its all noble reasons. But what I am interested in is to know what are the other reasons that justifies the action? The bully doesn't want to loose his hold on this regional sandbox? Ok I understand that. Mali is well positioned strategically for the French. Its right in the middle of most French speaking African countries. So establishing a military base there (we're just talking here) would put them at the center of the party if something else develops in the neighboring area. Thus securing the region.
There is another thought that came to me. How about re inventing imperialism? I mean imperialism as we know it has bad press these days. So lets do it otherwise. Lets not invade and impose. Lets do it with more... civility. The European economy is sclerosed. No growth. A monetary crisis. And too much regulations that suffocates free enterprises. Thus high level of welfare and no way out. BUT! Lets say you establish a friendship with a country. Lets call it... I don't know... lets say... Mali. You tell the president that he will have full power on his land. That the country's sovereignty will be preserved and defended by the mighty European army (aka the French). And after such a climax of peace and harmony is established (we know that this is the kind of climax that attracts investors). The deal is that the president will allow European capital (aka French capital) to establish factories in Mali. Produce locally, thus creating local jobs and raising local people's wealth. And those low cost products can come back to Europe through French entreprises and challenge the economic bully that is in place (aka Germany).
Interesting thought. The future shall tell us. In time.
But for now. Lets fight for freedom and democracy.