Piece on Mali and the Wagner Group for Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft

Along with nine colleagues, I’ve joined the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft as a Non-Resident Fellow, which is a real honor – Quincy is doing a lot to advance alternative and less militaristic thinking in U.S. foreign policy. As part of this new role, I’ll be contributing from time to time to their online magazine, Responsible Statecraft, where I’ve written a few pieces in the past. My newest is about Mali and the Wagner Group. Here’s the conclusion:

Whether it is a calculated threat or an imminent deal, part of what gives Mali’s Wagner Group negotiations such power over Western governments is the mantra of “great power competition” in Washington and beyond. Russia is a second-rate power, with a gross domestic product for 2020 ($1.5 trillion) than was considerably less than that of France ($2.6 trillion), to say nothing of the U.S. economy. Despite all the talk of misinformation on Russia’s part, Western capitals have deluded themselves about Russia’s strength, including in Africa — and that perception blinds Paris, Washington, and others to the harms of the status quo. Mali’s trajectory under current policies, local and Western, is a bigger problem than Russian influence, real or imagined.