On 11 January 2013, French president François Hollande justified a military intervention in Mali on the basis of the possible collapse of the Malian state, which faced an armed rebellion in the north of the country. Thus, the war was authorized and explained by the inability of the Malian government to respond to the threat. However, explanations and analyses that focus on security hide more than they reveal, including the ontological aims of the war and its identity stakes. To uncover these aspects, this article articulates the interaction between, on the one hand, the deployment of international violence, and, on the other, the construction of the state and the political imagination in Mali. This article concludes that peace in Mali was sought through the militarization of democratic governance, effectively reinforcing the prewar governance model. Unlike analyses focused on security, this article demonstrates that the boundaries and limits of the Malian conflict are not only territorial but also ideological and identity-based.