The January 2013 French military intervention in Mali exposed the rising threat of ‘terrorist’ and illicit networks in the Sahel, but more importantly the intertwined limits of Malian politics and of the international politics of African conflict management. While much has been written about the ‘liberal peace’, this article argues that what is at stake in this debate is the consistency of the ‘liberal peace’ ideological form and what governance requirements it imposes. Such an ideology necessarily intersects with ongoing Malian peace-, nation- and statebuilding dynamics and competing normative orders that transcend state borders and nationalist projects.
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