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« China's rising pool of college grads - and expectations | Main | A Wikistrat job posting: business development person »
9:33AM

Fmr US Ambassador to Mali: Why we must save country

Nice op-ed in NYT on Tuesday.

A familiar charge:  "Islamist terrorists want a lawless stronghold in West Africa."

US, we are told, has spent $500m over past decade to keep violent Islamic extremists at bay in West Africa, but it's still too busy elsewhere to mount any serious Mali effort.  Thus the onus is on interested local powers like Algeria and interested outside powers like France.  Otherwise we get more Benghazi-style attacks.  This is a natural external cost of the Arab Spring - new garbage to be taken out.

Usual lead-from-behind pitch: US supports with logistics and intell and we need OCT (other countries' troops).

This is the reality of the Obama administration's decision to "pivot" to East Asia and disavow a troop-based approach to frontier settling in Africa.  It's tough love to say the least.

It's just so odd that we're always so intent on simultaneously containing China AND carrying its water (so to speak) elsewhere in the world, except now we're endeavoring mightily to make it somebody else's blood for Chinese resources.  It's just weird that we essentially refuse to cooperate when our strategic interests overlap JUST because of the tensions in East Asia.  Back in the day (read, Nixon & Kissinger), we had more of a linkages perspective.  But with Obama, continuing the Bush thing, it's our way or the highway; you either cooperate across the board or we oppose you across the board.

We need another Nixon to rationalize our relationship with China, because it is beyond Obama's strategic capacity.

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Reader Comments (4)

As an African, let me say that Obama is one of the most strategically inept US Presidents (as far as Africa is concerned).

Very well written, but the way to go is as clear as crystal - security and the economy. China is the only player that can work the economics and the US isn't too sure about what it wants to do about the security.

It is great that the French, Nigerians etc are setting the strategic direction here and I believe the French are smart enough to realise that 1. a solution to this problem will involve tackling the economics and 2. you've got to bring the Chinese in (collaborate with them) to solve that problem.

Anyway, the Chinese are busy developing long range strategic transport aircraft, so they may have other ideas - and they have been pretty successful with the two Sudans.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaduka

"You want allies with big (and growing) militaries), growing interests, and a clear willingness to go place and kill people to protect those interests. Crudely put, but there it is."

Maybe China and India have growing militaries, but do they have the same interest as the USA?
China would also have to change its principles of non-interference and ist concept of state souvereignity in order to intervene in other states militarily. It´s also a question if China wants to become a gloabl military power or will focus more on its Asian pivot as a regional power.
However,Mali is a good experience for the laid-back Europeans to stand up for their own interests and fight on its own.However, the statement of the French foreign minister that Mali wood be a job of a few weeks is misleading.Mali is just the beginning of an long-term engagement of the EU in Northafrica.The era of European freeriding within NATO seems to be over.

January 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalf Ostner

It´s time to build an European army under one central command.We have the national armies of 29 armies within NATO. Totally ineffective. Nobody wants to make a war within NATO. Therefore it would be time that the Europeans merge their national armies under one roof to become a real force in world politicy. As the USA is shifting its pivot to Asia and is getting more energy independent fro the Broader Middle East, maybe it is time now for the Europeans to unite and to build an army that can protect Europe.Still all Europeans are freeriders within NATO, but I hope that Obama´s "Lead from behind" is an incentive that Europeans learn more to be acitve without the Big Brother USA and to stand on their own feet.However, I´m not such a fracking revolution fan as Tom Barnett is. Maybe by fracking the USA gets oil- and gas independent, but because fracking is pollutig the water, maybe the USA will get water depenedent in the future.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalf Ostner

"We need another Nixon to rationalize our relationship with China, because it is beyond Obama's strategic capacity."

That´s not true. As long as China is bullying other Asian countries about the possession of islands, the USA cannot make any compromise. But the Brookings Institution--a Obama/Democrat institution made a proposal for a compromise about the East Chinese Sea and published the blueprint for a sino-Japenese-American solution::

http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2010/9/east%20china%20sea%20guo/09_east_china_sea_guo.pdf

In this paper Professor Guo Rongxin proposes a deal between hina and Japan and the Democrta/Obama-Brookings Institution offered it.Maybe the USA should put more pressure on Japan than on China to solve this question. If there is no cooperation in the East or South Chinese Sea, there probably won´t be any sinomaerican cooperation about global problems in the near future.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRalf Ostner

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