The Obama administration is contemplating broad military, political and humanitarian intervention to stop a slide toward chaos and Islamic extremism in Mali, the top State Department diplomat for Africa said Thursday.
The international but largely U.S.-funded effort to expunge al-Qaeda-linked militants and restore political order in Somalia could present a model for Mali, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson said.
I know some people in our administration woke up one morning to see that the Kenyans (with some quiet American help) drove the jihadis from Kismayu. But this offensive was a long time coming.
The Kenyans have been at it for some time. The Ugandans have been at it for years. The Ethiopians have been at it long enough to intervene, grow tired of intervening, and intervene again.
And the effort to train African troops so we don't have to send in troops again began in 2007.
Let's not forget that Somalia has been in various states of chaos and disorder for a quarter century.
And in that time Somalia has experienced starvation and become a base for pirates and a haven for jihadis.
Do we really want to telegraph to the countries we want to push to the front to solve the Mali problem that they have this level of effort to look forward to while we pat them on the back and assure them that we are right behind them for as many years or decades it takes to solve the problem?
How smart is that diplomacy?
UPDATE: Al Qaeda's plan is too keep France--the indispensible nation when it comes to solving the northern Mali problem--from leading the counter-attack north in the first place:
Al Qaeda-linked Islamists in Mali threatened on Saturday to "open the doors of hell" for French citizens if France kept pushing for a war to retake the rebel-held north.
The renewed threats against French hostages and expatriates came ahead of a summit of French-speaking nations in Congo, where President Francois Hollande was expected to urge the rapid deployment of an African-led force to rout the Islamists.
I still think--as I have from the beginning--that a French Foreign Legion regiment is the necessary core force than can enable a counter-attack north.
At that point, lots of jihadis will get shoved through those doors for a well-deserved eternity in hell.