Should the U.S. do more to help France fight Mali's Islamists?

The Pentagon has agreed only to give France intelligence and logistical support

French troops gather in a hangar at the airport in Bamako, the capital of Mali, Jan. 15.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

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.

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.