Why did France intervene in Mali in 2013? Examining the role of Intervention Entrepreneurs

Marina E. Henke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Military interventions are without a doubt the most forceful and most costly foreign policy tool extant. But how do they actually come about? The bulk of the existing literature on military interventions points to the head of state and his/her closest advisers to explain intervention decisions. This article argues instead that Intervention Entrepreneurs play a critical role in the political decision-making process of military interventions. Intervention Entrepreneurs are individuals or groups that promote the launch of a specific military intervention because they anticipate benefitting disproportionately from the intervention decision and/or aftermath. To further their intervention proposal, these entrepreneurs employ very similar techniques which include: (1) the creation of a narrative for intervention; (2) the act of spreading and “selling” this narrative to the media, think tanks and other thought leaders; (3) the act of establishing faits accomplis–actions that can create a slippery slope toward intervention such as leaking information or (if possible) pre-deploying troops or other personnel to the intervention theatre; and (4) the lobbying of critical decision-makers (including the head of state) to support the intervention proposal. This article uses the French intervention in Mali (2013) to introduce the concept of Intervention Entrepreneurs and illustrate the strategies and power these actors exert.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-323
Number of pages17
JournalCanadian Foreign Policy Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2017


  • Africa
  • European security and defense policy
  • France
  • Mali
  • Military interventions
  • Operation Serval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Why did France intervene in Mali in 2013? Examining the role of Intervention Entrepreneurs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this