May 21, 2013
Blue Man Coup: How Gadhafi’s Mercenaries Broke Mali
Posted on May 16, 2012
By Susan Zakin
Mali’s president “begged the United States and Europe to either forgive the debt or restructure it,” Prashad wrote. “Washington held fast. Moral hazard was the name of the game. George Moose, Clinton’s assistant secretary of State for African affairs, caviled, ‘virtue is its own reward.’ How could Mali be bailed out? That would set a bad example for the rest of the indebted countries.”
Government salaries could not be paid and, presumably, ammunition could not be purchased. Forced privatization hurt the cotton market and decimated fragile farming in the north.
Without minimizing the damage of international lending policies, it would be both patronizing and inaccurate to hold the West entirely responsible for Mali’s troubles. David Gutelius, a development economist who worked in the region, criticizes development programs for lining the pockets of Mali’s politically connected elite without improving conditions for the poor. According to Gutelius, the lack of viable economic alternatives and government services in the northern desert was the result of the Traoré government’s cronyism, and helped foster successive Tuareg rebellions.
At the same time, Mali’s desperate financial situation left the country, which is 80 percent Muslim, dependent on Islamic nongovernmental organizations and missionary groups—including those dedicated to a “purer” Islam.
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