It is only when it is too late, when all other options have been rejected, that we are asked to choose between bad and worse. Nine days after the 9/11 attacks, President George W Bush was already threatening that “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Two wars followed, first in Afghanistan, then Iraq, with the results we all know. In Mali, we are once again required to decide between two equally hateful alternatives. How can we resign ourselves to armed bands, who spread obscurantist ideology and practices, terrorising the people of the north, then threatening those in the south? But equally how can we ignore the fact that humanitarian motives and the criminalisation of political opponents (Afghan Taliban linked to the opium trade, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to cocaine dealing and hostage taking) are often a pretext for western military operations that smack of neo-colonialism?