One of the biggest criticisms of the US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that they have caused American Civilians relatively little hardship. The wars have run concurrently with two of the biggest tax cuts in US history (in stark contrast to the austerity and bond drives of previous wars), again unlike previous wars no draft was implemented (therefore a very small proportion of the US population felt the immediate affects of war time service), filming and photography of military funerals and coffins returning to the US mainland was banned, and, apart from the Patriot Act and some punitive changes in airport security, little else changed in the day-to-day lives of US civilians. All in all, unless someone is part of a military family or travel by plane frequently, it is quite possible that they have completely forgotten their country is at war at all. The criticism goes that because of this lack of hardship, until recently there has been little in the way of public indignation, and, therefore, little political incentive to carry the wars out in a more legal or constructive manner, or bring them to a halt entirely. Obviously this has changed since the 2008 election, but Afghanistan is now the longest War in US history, and whether the vast expenditure of blood and treasure has accomplished something lasting or in any way consequential is entirely up for debate.
In contrast, France has begun its Mali Intervention with three announcements bound to accelerate the war weariness of a country already full of peaceniks; the alleged death of an intelligence officer and one of his rescuers (possibly two) in Somalia, the death of a pilot only hours into the Mali intervention, and the announcement of tighter security in France itself to guard against threats of retaliation from Islamist groups (France has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe, and, thanks to the EU, quite porous borders). But it is the threats to the French mainland that are especially noticeable. Tightened security will lead to day to day tribulations and will accelerate disaffection. In a country so multicultural, it will also lead to the heightening of already tense relationships. But, most of all, it will challenge the will of what is ostensibly a populist government.
How long and how successful the French Intervention in Mali will be remains to be seen. However, the French populace are already seeing the negative effects of the intervention, very early on, and in ways the Americans have not. Specifically, they will be seeing the negative effects at home, in a way that has not been felt by Western forces for a very long time. Already the intervention has drawn support from around the world and the ECOWAS troops are being trained to reprieve the French troops, but it is the pressure from home that could be the real game changer. It is the pressure from home that will make the French intervention shorter than we think.