Pentagon officials say the U.S. is preparing to provide logistical support to France as it employs airstrikes to halt the advance of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels who have taken over northern Mali. The U.S. military is already sharing intelligence gathered by its drones flying in the region. France has sent in 750 troops and plans to deploy 1,000 more, but U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ruled out sending American ground troops. Is there something more the U.S. should be doing to help make sure the Islamists don't overrun the West African nation's military?
The U.S. has to get more deeply involved: The U.S. has kept Mali at arm's length, says The New York Times in an editorial, since its military overthrew of President Amadou Toumani Touré last March. But "this is no time to walk away." Supporting France's airstrikes makes sense, but the U.S. should also revive and strengthen its efforts to train Mali's army, "with greater emphasis on human rights and civilian supremacy." Ultimately it's up to Mali to put down the Islamist rebels.
"A widening war in Mali"
No. If the U.S. wants to help, it should butt out: Our meddling helped create this mess, says Glenn Greenwald at Britain's Guardian. A Malian officer we trained led the coup against the elected government, and that opened the door to the Islamist takeover in the north, which was also fueled by battle-hardened militants returning from Libya. Joining a battle against another Muslim foe will only wind up "sowing the seeds of further intervention."
"The bombing of Mali highlights all the lessons of western intervention"
We have to come up with a strategy that works: President Obama's plan to help North African countries defeat terrorists has "failed catastrophically," says Walter Russell Mead at The American Interest, but giving up isn't much of an option. "Weak states like Mali are the new front line" in the terror war. As long as the enemy keeps popping up in these places, U.S. leaders will have to "learn from experience" and devise "workable strategies" to win this dangerous new "global game of whack-a-mole."
"NYT calls U.S. anti-terror strategy in North Africa a catastrophe"