This month France has sent ground troops to and bombed northern Mali. This feels like the first time in a while that a country besides the US has stuck its neck out to fight violent Islamist groups that were operating in a foreign country. France has historical ties to Mali, but are there pragmatic reasons for the decision as well? The President of France, Hollande, is a socialist, which as an American I associate with being liberal and less prone to use military force abroad. So, what explains his decision?