France’s recent military intervention in Mali is hard to believe coming from its socialist president, François Hollande.
Hollande, who campaigned as an anti-war candidate, sent fighter jets and troops into its former colony in west Africa. It was not just a revival of colonialism. It meant he has learned nothing from the history of its futile colonial wars in Vietnam and Algeria.
He’s acting like any American president in intervening where the country does not belong.
Hollande assured the French people that the fighting force would leave Mali quickly. But that is a story we have heard endlessly from U.S. presidents.
And, yes, the United States is training and funding local militaries and providing logistical and intelligence support to African Union forces. And, yes, U.S. President Obama said U.S. support would be limited. That’s also a story the American people have heard before.
Both countries have intervened on behalf of the government in northern Mali in order to thwart the rebels fighting under the banner of Islam and al-Qaida.
It’s a desert version of the follies of Vietnam and Afghanistan. But the French and Americans never learn from history.
Women in combat -The moth-ridden Pentagon has surprisingly ended its ban on women in combat. However belated, the decision was what the New York Times called “a triumph for common sense.”
Its editorial added: “By opening infantry, artillery and other battlefield jobs to all qualified service members regardless of sex, the military is showing that categorical discrimination has no place in a society that honors fairness and equal opportunity.
“Women have been in the thick of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. More than 280,000 have been deployed there. Thousands haves been injured and 150 killed.”
Opponents to ending the ban have argued that women captured in battle would be raped. But the Pentagon now knows that military women face a far greater danger of sexual assault and harassment from fellow soldiers.
$500 million pals - Amgen, the pharmaceutical giant, got a two-year reprieve from paying up to $500 million over a two-year period to the Medicare program because of congressional buddies. The huge loophole in a financial package was passed on New Year’s Eve when no one was looking. It was created by Amgen’s Senate cronies: Republicans Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch and Democrat Max Baucus.
“A trio of perpetrators who treat the U.S. Treasury as if it were a cash-and-carry annex of corporate America,” Bill Moyers rightly characterized it.
But as everyone who follows politics knows, Congress does the bidding of the big contributors to political campaigns. It helps, too, to have the enormous financial resources of Amgen. The firm has 74 lobbyists in Washington.
Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, specializes in kidney dialysis and a pill called Sensipar.
The influence of the powerful prevailed despite the fact that Amgen recently pleaded guilty to marketing an anti-anemia drug illegally. It was assessed civil and criminal penalties of $762 million.
It is such corporate welfare that adds to the ever-growing cost of health care for the American people.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.