It is unfortunate that the U.S. is forgetting the lesson of Vietnam and following the French into a conflict in one of their ex-colonies. It seems that harsh lesson is being ignored and we are wading our way into the Mali conflict.
Not surprisingly routing out the Islamist cockroaches in Mali will take quite some time. One only has to look at how long it took the Algerians to overcome their Islamist problem in the 1990s to understand how complex it is in the African desert. How can Obama justify getting the U.S. involved in yet another open-ended conflict against Islamists? A U.S. official has admitted this won't be a quick operation:
A State Department official for Africa said the U.S. would like to see an African-led, -owned and -directed operation like the one that successfully pushed militants out of Somalia's capital after several years of warfare. But Don Yamamoto warned that intervention could take years before finding success.
So far we are just aiding the French and African forces with logistics and re-fueling. One has to wonder how long it will be until there are "boots on the ground" in secret or in the open. I suspect the former is already the case.
"[the mission] will support the French military by conducting aerial refueling missions," according to the Pentagon, which released a short statement Saturday following a call between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Panetta claims that this operation could serve as a "model" for future American cooperation with foreign government in these sorts of engagements.
"Our willingness and ability to help other countries like France be able to go after AQIM (al Qaeda in the Maghreb). I think is the kind of model that you're going to see in the future."
And one has to remember that these Islamists are not just an unorganized rabble. Many of them were trained and armed by Kaddafi while he was in power. He hired mercenaries from all over the region and kitted them out well.
Will President Obama be able to resist getting involved on the ground in Mali or will he heed American lack of interest in yet another long-term "overseas adventure?" Can Obama resist a fellow socialist in need and one whose policies he so admires? And, of course, one has to wonder if the anti-war crowd will rush out onto the streets if we get embroiled in another war in Mali.
You might think that, after the farce that was the Obama administration meddling in Libya and Egypt, the president might be worried about another involvement in the region.
Or is this the administration trying to make up for helping to install Islamists in power in Egypt and Libya?