The efforts of the international community to promote “stabilization” in the central Sahel have not been successful. The purpose of this policy brief is to add three names to the already extensive list of “strategic misfits” in order to draw lessons from recent engagement. First, without doing any serious work on how to reform the state, “stabilization responses” are based on the false assumptions that “to bring back the state” and “expand state presence.” Second, external actors have to be more realistic in their goals because they have continuously overestimated their capacity to influence and bring about genuine change in the region. This is especially true of Western governments. Third, that the West African coastal nations and the battle against violent extremism urgently need to apply these lessons.