You remember Mali, don't you? The Not-so-inevitable Mitt mentioned it twice during one of the debates. No-one knew, including the Prez, knew what he was talking about. But now we know.
Turns out Mali is a landlocked "nation" in part of the former French West Africa, a half-vast expanse of sand and not much else, shared rather grudgingly by Tuareg Arabs to the north and blacker people to the southwest.
For the last few months, militant Islamists -- part of the African arm of al Qaeda -- have been pushing southward, aiming to overthrow the black(ish) government and take over the country. Their success this month attracted the attention of the former colonial masters, who decided to send in the Foreign Legion. [Really? Does the Foreign Legion still exist? Ed.]
Well, maybe not, but the French Air Force certainly exists and last week started bombing the shit out of rebel-held villages and other "military targets". The governments of Britain and the USA have offered to hold the French coats, so to speak. Calls have gone out for African forces to intervene, but your typical African dictator is loth to send troops he needs at home to protect him from a coup.
And that is why the president of Gabon, who also heads up the so-called African Union, went to Canada earlier this month. Canada should do something, he told Prime Minister Harpoon, because Canadians speak French [Maybe. Ed.] besides which Defence Minister Mackay had already said Canada would send in the Mounties... Or something.
What the Gabonese president didn't know is that even as his plane was landing, Harper had yanked Machackey's chain, telling him to cover up not just his mouth but also his ears lest Canadians realize there's nothing in between them. Said the organ-grinder said to the monkey, "Remember Afghanistan? We won't be doing that again!"
Enter Robert Fowler, a Canadian dip who managed to get himself and a "colleague" kidnapped by those damn Islamists a couple of years ago, and was only ransomed at the cost of several barrels of maple syrup which the Arabs mistook for sweet oil. Fowler thought it disgraceful that Canada should abandon its commitment to international peacekeeping, the poor and downtrodden Africans, and so forth.
So... This weekend Harper agreed that at least a token effort should be made, in the name of peace, democracy, the war on terror, and so forth. The Canucks are sending 1 (one, une, uno) C-17 transport to help the French with a bit of the (literal) heavy lifting. It left CFB Trenton just minutes ago, and Agent 3 reports that he just saw it fly over his house, which means it's going the wrong way.
Machackey, ever eager to curry favour with the boss, will announce this afternoon that the Royal Canadian Navy will send three ships -- HMCS Nina, HMCS Pinta and HMCS Santa Maria -- to provide further support. Has the minister forgotten that Mali is landlocked? (See above). Well, no. That's where the C-17 comes in. It will be used to carry the frigits [check spelling please] from the Atlantic to wherever Mali is.
Watch WWW for more stories of French-Canadian co-operation and derring-do.
CORRECTION! Agent 3 has just advised that it was not the RCAF C-17 that he saw overhead. The plane destined for Mali is apparently stuck on the runway at CFB Trenton. Mr. Harper, did you get that? God is trying to tell you something!