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French President Francois Hollande has sent French forces to stop an Islamic insurgency from taking over the West African nation of Mali. It is a bold step for Mr. Hollande, who faces rising discontent at home as well as fear that the intervention could become a quagmire.

Blowback has already become evident in the attempted takeover of an Algerian natural gas facility by Islamic sympathizers. Mr. Hollande must have thought that the danger of inaction was more compelling and that failure to stop the insurgents could produce another Afghanistan, a base for radical forces, this time in Africa.

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