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.