NYT: Jihadis running wild in northern Mali as U.S. counterterror strategy fails

posted at 5:51 pm on January 14, 2013 by Allahpundit

Via Walter Russell Mead. To follow-up on Ed’s post this morning, with French boots on the ground and America providing logistical support, it’s time to start paying attention to Mali if you aren’t yet. The U.S. strategy here was simple, and familiar: Support the elected government against jihadis by training their army in counterterror operations. So far, so good — until last year, when a bunch of American-trained military commanders joined the rebellion in the north (which was soon taken over by jihadis) and another American-trained commander overthrew the government in a coup. The resulting dynamic, pitting a military autocracy against Islamist nuts, is also familiar from places like Egypt and Syria. And in case you thought otherwise, evidently American training and support can’t prevent it.

One reason Obama’s so eager to move U.S. military assets out of Afghanistan is that the game of whack-a-mole has now moved elsewhere — thanks in part to the western intervention against Qaddafi in Libya:

But all that deliberate planning collapsed swiftly when heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya. They teamed up with jihadists like Ansar Dine, routed poorly equipped Malian forces and demoralized them so thoroughly that it set off a mutiny against the government in the capital, Bamako…

The same American-trained units that had been seen as the best hope of repelling such an advance proved, in the end, to be a linchpin in the country’s military defeat. The leaders of these elite units were Tuaregs — the very ethnic nomads who were overrunning northern Mali…

“The aid of the Americans turned out not to be useful,” said another ranking Malian officer, now engaged in combat. “They made the wrong choice,” he said of relying on commanders from a group that had been conducting a 50-year rebellion against the Malian state…

“I was sorely disappointed that a military with whom we had a training relationship participated in the military overthrow of an elected government,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the Africa Command, said in a speech at Brown University last month . “There is no way to characterize that other than wholly unacceptable.”

The French moved in last week with 500+ troops and air power in order to halt the jihadis’ drive from the north towards Bamako, the capital. But just yesterday, Al Qaeda and its associates managed to infiltrate and take the town of Diabaly, which is inside southern Mali and was thought to be safely protected by the military. How’d they sneak in there? By crossing over into Mauritania and then circling back behind the army’s lines towards the town. That’s familiar too from Afghanistan, but the problem here is much, much bigger. An enormous swath of north Africa is potentially in play:

The area under the rule of the Islamist fighters is mostly desert and sparsely populated, but analysts say that due to its size and the hostile nature of the terrain, rooting out the extremists here could prove even more difficult than it did in Afghanistan. Mali’s former president has acknowledged, diplomatic cables show, that the country cannot patrol a frontier twice the length of the border between the United States and Mexico.

AQIM operates not just in Mali, but in a corridor along much of the northern Sahel. This 7,000-kilometer (4,300-mile) long ribbon of land runs across the widest part of Africa, and includes sections of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso and Chad.

“One could come up with a conceivable containment strategy for the Swat Valley,” said Africa expert Peter Pham, an adviser to the U.S. military’s African command center, referring to the region of Pakistan where Taliban fighters once dominated. “There’s no containment strategy for the Sahel, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.”

“Al-Qaida never owned Afghanistan,” said a UN diplomat who was held hostage by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb. “They do own northern Mali.” Some experts think the group and its associates now have surface-to-air missiles which they stole from the Malian army bases they overran and, of course, from the Qaddafi weapons depots that were looted in the aftermath of the Libyan revolution. It’s not just AQIM there either: Other jihadi groups like Ansar Dine are flowing into the north of the country, partly because it was a safe haven and partly because it’s now quickly turning into the hottest global flashpoint with the infidel crusaders. (Jihadi leaders are threatening France, of course.) What Obama, Chuck Hagel, and John Brennan plan to do about all of this, especially in an age of defense cuts, is unclear, although it’s a safe bet that the left’s dream of ending the age of drone warfare will have to wait. According to the Times, one plan favored by U.S. strategists is to target the jihadi groups’ leaders in hopes that taking them out will cause the groups to fall apart. Another option is to wait until an Awakening-type backlash develops among the local as they’re treated to a taste of the glories of sharia, but how you’d go about organizing that Awakening without many, many troops on the ground is also unclear. You see, though, how one intervention can beget another: Obama went into Libya to oust Qaddafi because he wanted to purchase some goodwill with Muslims during the Arab Spring, and now he’ll likely have to go into Mali to manage the spillover — which Islamists will demagogue to try to destroy any goodwill America has with Muslims after the Arab Spring.

Anyway. As I say, it’s time to get up to speed if you’ve been ignoring this. National Journal has a useful primer to help.

Update: That didn’t take long.



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Who needs guns when you have these guys winning for us?

Bmore on January 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM

We can’t be the world’s anti-Jihad army. The world needs to fight for themselves, if they hate then they need to fight. We just need to isolate all the jihad countries and don’t allow them to travel, conduct business, or educate themselves in the US. If you are a jihad country then you are black listed.

Oil Can on January 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Is Obama arming these jihadi’s too?

tom daschle concerned on January 14, 2013 at 5:59 PM

We no longer have to fight these wars…the drones will.

CW on January 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM

We can’t be the world’s anti-Jihad army. The world needs to fight for themselves, if they hate then they need to fight. We just need to isolate all the jihad countries and don’t allow them to travel, conduct business, or educate themselves in the US.

Oil Can on January 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

We are going to be physically unable to have half our populace on the dole and be the world’s cop. I vote for an organized withdrawal now.

MelonCollie on January 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

France has to borrow a C-17 from Canada because it cannot move its armed forces across the Mediterranean Sea on its own. How mighty NATO has declined.

KW64 on January 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

You guys really need to do a big piece on the secret war in Africa.

We are there. We are shooting.

CorporatePiggy on January 14, 2013 at 6:06 PM

Anybody remember what happened the last time France started a war they could not win?

DanMan on January 14, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Just more of that ‘leading from behind’.

GarandFan on January 14, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Obama MUST free the country named after one of his daughters.

He must free it for his Brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood!

Anything else would just be racist!

LegendHasIt on January 14, 2013 at 6:10 PM

TFG seems hellbent on reliving the Clinton years. National health care, gun control and now Somalia.

The only question now is: does Reggie Love own a blue t-shirt?

Joe Mama on January 14, 2013 at 6:11 PM

We can’t be the world’s anti-Jihad army. The world needs to fight for themselves, if they hate then they need to fight.

It’s even more ludicrous that American-trained troops are switching sides and joining the jihad. The US needs to pick its allies more carefully or you’re going to see a repeat of the abuses that occurred in South America during the ’80s in the name of freedom.

France has to borrow a C-17 from Canada because it cannot move its armed forces across the Mediterranean Sea on its own. How mighty NATO has declined.

KW64 on January 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

US military welfare to Europe needs to stop. Then the EU would be forced to purchase their own planes.

bayam on January 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM

thanks in part to the western intervention against Qaddafi in Libya:

So now it’s called an intervention ?
No more kinetic energy action whatever huh ?

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Anybody remember what happened the last time France started a war they could not win?

DanMan on January 14, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Yes. And can see clearly where this is going.

dogsoldier on January 14, 2013 at 6:16 PM

does Reggie Love own a blue dresst-shirt?

Joe Mama on January 14, 2013 at 6:11 PM

I think so.

VegasRick on January 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

This wouldn’t have happened if he had closed Gitmo like he promised.

Flange on January 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

The French moved in last week with 500+ troops and air power in order to halt the jihadis’ drive from the north towards Bamako, the capital. But just yesterday…..,

…..they asked for terms of surrender.

BobMbx on January 14, 2013 at 6:20 PM

This President’s ‘Foreign Policy’ in Libya, after ordering the U.S. Military to help the very Libyans – who had been hiring jihadists for decades to go to Iraq & Afghanistan to kill American GIs – to win control of their own country, was ‘to keep a LOW PROFILE. Even after 2 previous terrorist attacks, even after warnings from Ambassador Stevens that Al Qaeda flags were flying over new Libyan Govt buildings, after warnings from Ambassador Stevens that there were 10 new terrorist training camps in Benghazi & that they would never survive a 3rd attack.

This is the administration whose Secretary of State, on the anniversary of ’9/11′ & having already received warnings that an attack was coming for revenge for the death of a Libyan Al Qaeda terrorist by a drone strike months earlier, REFUSED to provide additional security to twice-attacked previously Ambassador Stevens AND ordered Marines guarding the Cairo, Egypt Embassy NOT to carry ‘live ammo’…on the anniversary of 9/11…in a nation now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist groupd this President helped put into power…

This President’s administration gave orders to a SpecOps response team to ‘Stand Down’ & abandon Amb Stevens & 3 other Americans under attack…right before he relieved of command the AFRICOM Commander who vioiced his intent to ignore that order.

It is NOT this President’s intent to eliminate or even restrict terrorist activity but that which he has already done…and that is to elevate to power & assist is becoming more powerful the very Islamic Extremists & terrorists our nation’s boldest & best have fought, bled, & died to destroy/eradicate! While our troops are away Liberals/Obama work to destroy the very nation our troops are off trying to protect the nation from…and while this administration is rebuilding & aiding ‘the enemy’ faster than our military can destroy them.

easyt65 on January 14, 2013 at 6:22 PM

And John “Seared” Kerry is standing in the wings, ready for duty. And he’ll get to deal with a jungle war the right way this time.

BobMbx on January 14, 2013 at 6:25 PM

Obama has accomplished more of Osama‘s Islamic goals than the Al Qaeda leader ever dared dream.

The Meccan Candidate.

profitsbeard on January 14, 2013 at 6:27 PM

But all that deliberate planning collapsed swiftly when heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya.

and

The same American-trained units that had been seen as the best hope of repelling such an advance proved, in the end, to be a linchpin in the country’s military defeat. The leaders of these elite units were Tuaregs — the very ethnic nomads who were overrunning northern Mali.

Nice to see this nation has continued its long tradition of preparing Islamist Fighters for war since the 1979.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:28 PM

US military welfare to Europe needs to stop. Then the EU would be forced to purchase their own planes.

bayam on January 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM

Anything short of outright declaring WW3, including draft and rationing and forced retooling of civilian factories, is not going to save all of Europe from their own folly – AGAIN.

Time for them to grow up.

MelonCollie on January 14, 2013 at 6:31 PM

So this time it looks like France is cleaning up after our mess. I wonder if they still like Obama there.

Dan_Yul on January 14, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Look who was talking about Mali several months ago ( href=”http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/lauren-collins/2012/10/mitt-mali-and-france.html”>). But in this article, and others, the mention is poo-pooed by the lib press. It seems kind of important now, doesn’t it.

melchitt on January 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

We are going to be physically unable to have half our populace on the dole and be the world’s cop. I vote for an organized withdrawal now.

MelonCollie on January 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

I vote we take half the populace off the dole and send robots (drones) to fight the terrorists.

Browncoatone on January 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

Didn’t want to read NYT.

Did they say Obama inherited the U.S. counterterror strategy from Bush (and thus why it failed) too?

Sir Napsalot on January 14, 2013 at 6:34 PM

#SmartPowerFail!

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Here is a list of those places we helped Jihadist…

Carter: Iran
Reagan: Afghanistan
Bush I: Arabia / Iraq
Clinton: Bosnia, Sudan, Chechnya
Bush II: Iraq (again)
Obama: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mali

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

“As I say, it’s time to get up to speed if you’ve been ignoring this…”

What does any of this have to do with the Golden Globe Awards? – The 52%

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

…time to start paying attention to Mali if you aren’t yet. The U.S. strategy here was simple, and familiar: Support the elected government against jihadis by training their army in counterterror operations. So far, so good — until last year, when a bunch of American-trained military commanders joined the rebellion in the north (which was soon taken over by jihadis) and another American-trained commander overthrew the government in a coup.

…not to worry!…JugEars will scold them!

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Doh. Damn link – here.

melchitt on January 14, 2013 at 6:36 PM

According to the Times, one plan favored by U.S. strategists is to target the jihadi groups’ leaders in hopes that taking them out will cause the groups to fall apart.

So basically Hussein+Holder will run guns for muslims while using drones , funded by US taxpayers ofcourse , and the media will call it
” supporting rebels”in Mali , which will later be called some cute little name by Lara Logan , who will cover it live .

Another option is to wait until an Awakening-type backlash develops among the local as they’re treated to a taste of the glories of sharia,

Wll.
Never.
Happen.

but how you’d go about organizing that Awakening without many, many troops on the ground is also unclear.

What Awakening? Hussain is working to put jihadies and alqaeda incharge of that part of land , just as in Libya , Afghanistan,Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Somalia, Michigan etc. American troops will be used to establish the caliphate. Sooner or later .

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 6:36 PM

not to worry!…JugEars will scold them!
KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Scold them?

It was his intent in the first place.

LegendHasIt on January 14, 2013 at 6:38 PM

Carter: Iran
Reagan: Afghanistan
Bush I: Arabia / Iraq
Clinton: Bosnia, Sudan, Chechnya
Bush II: Iraq (again)
Obama: Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Mali

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:35 PM

It was Carter, who started funding and aiding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Brzezinski: Carter Began the Secret Aid of the Afghan Rebels That Became Al Qaeda

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Lies betrayal death? In Africa? Really?

Speakup on January 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

I also forgot Clinton helped Gaza/West Bank…

Also all of our Presidents helped Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They have both learned how to pay off the right people it appears. Colin Powell is one of those in the Arabian camp.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

“As I say, it’s time to get up to speed if you’ve been ignoring this…”

Please use simple language for simpletons like me :D
Is this Bush’s fault or not ?

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 6:40 PM

What Awakening? Hussain is working to put jihadies and alqaeda incharge of that part of land , just as in Libya , Afghanistan,Egypt, Kenya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Somalia, Michigan etc. American troops will be used to establish the caliphate. Sooner or later .

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Screw em all. The sooner they kill each other the better off we are. We should leave that part of the world to fend for itself and bring our folks home NOW!

VegasRick on January 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Is Obama arming these jihadi’s too?

Indirectly, probably. Maybe surplus weapons spilling in from arming the Libyans, and Libyan jihadis volunteers personally, spreading good cheer and glad tidings.

hawkeye54 on January 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM

It was Carter, who started funding and aiding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Brzezinski: Carter Began the Secret Aid of the Afghan Rebels That Became Al Qaeda

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:39 PM

No doubt, but Reagan continued and increased it. I understand the purpose, fighting the Soviet Union and all, but it turned out to be a mistake in the long run.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

U.S. counterterror strategy fails

AH, we may believe it it failing, when , in fact, the strategy is working perfectly for the aims of Barry and his muslim cronies.

hawkeye54 on January 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

No doubt, but Reagan continued and increased it. I understand the purpose, fighting the Soviet Union and all, but it turned out to be a mistake in the long run.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

All true, but Carter was the president who started it and he should be given “credit” for it.

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM

The CIA’s role in laying the foundations of Al Qaeda is confirmed in an 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, who at the time was National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter:

Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, [on] 24 December 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion, this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Question: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Question: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?

(“The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan, Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser”, Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 15-21 January 1998, published in English, Centre for Research on Globalisation, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html, 5 October 2001)

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

This is a feature of 0bama’s foreign policy – not a bug.

cane_loader on January 14, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Hey, I’ve got a crazy idea: how about we stop training “smart diplomacy” proxy armies in turd world countries that our enemies will likely convert or control in a few years and equipping them with weapons? It really hasn’t worked at all – or indeed failed to backfire horribly – since the early 80s.

HitNRun on January 14, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Folks, a little closer to home might be a place you don’t want to take your eye off of. Gun up. Its coming to a neighborhood near you. If not right away, in time. I speak of Dearborn Mi. Research it for yourself.

Bmore on January 14, 2013 at 6:51 PM

All true, but Carter was the president who started it and he should be given “credit” for it.

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:44 PM

I can give them both credit if you want me to, Carter started it but it was Reagan who won it. The Afghans never would have won it without the Reagan administration. The things Carter did for Afghanistan was like all the things he did for America…not worth much.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

We’re fighting to save a military junta in a 95% Muslim country that is boycotted by the rest of Africa from islamists insurgents. WTF!

elfman on January 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

US military welfare to Europe needs to stop. Then the EU would be forced to purchase their own planes.

bayam on January 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM

…soon the US military… will be on welfare…and of course the donkey doesn’t know that the dog-eater wants us to grow up… to be exactly like the EU!

KOOLAID2 on January 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

I flew a C5 into Gao a few years back and dropped off some American military “advisers”. The runway looked like it hadn’t been used since 1943. The fire department/ airfield manager/ air traffic control officer pulled up in a pickup truck with a 150 lb extinguisher in the back. He asked, in surprisingly good English “Are you spending the night?” I said no, we have to go back to get the rest of the stuff. He said, “You all can stay at my place, I have room. And this is a Muslim country, but I know where to get beer!” I said I would definitely stay for a Malian beer, but we really have to go. Then a goat herder drove his herd across the runway,50 feet in front of the 6 story C5 without casting so much as a second glance. Judging by the trail of goat s–t on the tarmac under our tires, we were blocking his preferred path.

tdarrington on January 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 6:47 PM

This is just Brzezinski attempt to try to give Carter (more important himself) the credit for winning the Cold War. LOL! I would not take what he says as the complete truth. That interview you posted is the history of the world as Brzezinski sees it, with himself playing the key role. The key part is…

Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?

Welcome to the world of Zbigniew Brzezinski…Carter stooge….Agent 000…and not the most interesting man on the planet.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 7:01 PM

the town in the article is Dioliba on Bing Maps and it looks like a 10 minutes-at-55mph drive to the southern part of Bamako if youre in an armed technical or gassed up fighting vehicle.

A look at you tube shows Bamako to be a pretty run down place thats packed with life. Not Mogadishu but not Marrakesh either.

Also what happens if Islamo nutters gain control of the Manantali Dam in southern Mali? The town referenced in the NYT article where the rebs have suddenly appeared is between Bamako and the Dam.

Sacramento on January 14, 2013 at 7:07 PM

More Christians fighting the bad Muslims to help the good Muslims who then turn out to be the even worse Muslims…

albill on January 14, 2013 at 7:11 PM

Heckuva job, Barry.

MarkT on January 14, 2013 at 7:19 PM

“The leaders of these elite units were Tuaregs — the very ethnic nomads who were overrunning northern Mali…”

So who’s side are we on again…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2013 at 7:21 PM

So who’s side are we on again…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2013 at 7:21 PM

We ?
Or Obama Hussein ?

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Ugh. “Islamists.” Can we please finally dispense with this non-term and call them what they actually are: Muslims.

And seriously, what is that dork talking about? “Arc of instability”?? There is no stability whatsoever. Even here in the US. WE’RE LOSING THE WAR D-BAG!!!

WhatSlushfund on January 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

We ?
Or Obama Hussein ?

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 7:24 PM

My thoughts were for our unfortunate soldiers who just happen to be serving in the Age of Obowma…

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2013 at 7:31 PM

I can give them both credit if you want me to, Carter started it but it was Reagan who won it. The Afghans never would have won it without the Reagan administration. The things Carter did for Afghanistan was like all the things he did for America…not worth much.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

If you read what Z-Big said:

Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion, this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

It was because of Carter’s meddling that the Soviets intervened in the first place.

I would not take what he says as the complete truth. That interview you posted is the history of the world as Brzezinski sees it, with himself playing the key role. The key part is…

Both the US and Soviet records support this position, as far as when aid began, which was the point.

Welcome to the world of Zbigniew Brzezinski…Carter stooge….Agent 000…and not the most interesting man on the planet.

William Eaton on January 14, 2013 at 7:01 PM

Z-Big may think that such supports a position the Carter fought the Cold War and you may think that is what he is asserting, but there is another way that his meddling can be read and it is far from positive.

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM

One reason Obama’s so eager to move U.S. military assets out of Afghanistan is that the game of whack-a-mole has now moved elsewhere

Whack-a-mole is by definition playing a game a step behind your opposition.

Obama went into Libya to oust Qaddafi because he wanted to purchase some goodwill with Muslims during the Arab Spring, and now he’ll likely have to go into Mali to manage the spillover — which Islamists will demagogue to try to destroy any goodwill America has with Muslims after the Arab Spring.

Heckuva job, Barry! That’s some good goodwill!

ghostwalker1 on January 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM

Anybody remember what happened the last time France started a war they could not win?

I don’t know, are you talking about Vietnam, or Libya?

Socratease on January 14, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Perhaps Belgium should rethink it’s euthanasia plans and pay those people to put their demises to good use.

Perhaps we will need to as well.

oh, I am soooo sorry….

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2013 at 7:50 PM

I mean, of course, once we have a pro-American president.

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Glenn Greenwald, who is at least consistent:

First, as the New York Times’ background account from this morning makes clear, much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato’s intervention in Libya. Specifically, “heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya” and “the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic fighters who came back” played the precipitating role in the collapse of the US-supported central government. As Owen Jones wrote in an excellent column this morning in the Independent:

“This intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine. Tuaregs – who traditionally hailed from northern Mali – made up a large portion of his army. When Gaddafi was ejected from power, they returned to their homeland: sometimes forcibly so as black Africans came under attack in post-Gaddafi Libya, an uncomfortable fact largely ignored by the Western media. . . . [T]he Libyan war was seen as a success . . . and here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback.”

Over and over, western intervention ends up – whether by ineptitude or design – sowing the seeds of further intervention. Given the massive instability still plaguing Libya as well as enduring anger over the Benghazi attack, how long will it be before we hear that bombing and invasions in that country are – once again – necessary to combat the empowered “Islamist” forces there: forces empowered as a result of the Nato overthrow of that country’s government?

Resist We Much on January 14, 2013 at 7:55 PM

HitNRun on January 14, 2013 at 6:50 PM

During my years in the Army I dealt with the South Vietnamese(t!ts on a bull),the Iraqis,Afgans(same as the Viets)and in the 80′s helped train Egyptian troops, one who was a so called strack soldier who showed up in a sandal on one foot,a combat boot on the other and wearing a Hard Rock T-shirt.
It seems we always pick the wrong side in these matters.We train them then they turn after we leave.The other side fights like mad.

docflash on January 14, 2013 at 7:57 PM

tdarrington on January 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Cool story; TD Thanks for sharing it!

LegendHasIt on January 14, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Congratulations, Barack. Not even Jimmy Carter can equal your record as a massive screw up.

Wendya on January 14, 2013 at 8:15 PM

My thoughts were for our unfortunate soldiers who just happen to be serving in the Age of Obowma…

Seven Percent Solution on January 14, 2013 at 7:31 PM

I feel for our soldiers too, they are being betrayed by their Generals who are more of dirty politicians now , just like their CinC.

burrata on January 14, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Wow, the French start (another) fight and Barry comes along to ‘help’. Welcome to the modern world. If only Barry could issue an Executive Order banning guns in Mali, I’m sure everything would be alright. Only a matter of time until it comes to a neighborhood near you.

“The aid of the Americans turned out not to be useful,”

With this regime? No kidding.

ghostwalker1 on January 14, 2013 at 8:31 PM

We no longer have to fight these wars…the drones will.

CW on January 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM

The Rise of the Machines

Solaratov on January 14, 2013 at 8:38 PM

If only Barry could issue an Executive Order banning guns in Mali, I’m sure everything would be alright.

ghostwalker1 on January 14, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Why not just declare it a “Gun Free Zone”. That always works so well.

Solaratov on January 14, 2013 at 8:40 PM

This is all so very simple. All we have to do is just apply the COIN/”Winning Muslim Hearts and Minds”/”Partners in Peace” brilliant model from Afghanistan. Success will be guaranteed.

VorDaj on January 14, 2013 at 8:44 PM

US military welfare to Europe needs to stop. Then the EU would be forced to purchase their own planes.

bayam on January 14, 2013 at 6:12 PM

You have no idea how much it galls me to agree with you.

Solaratov on January 14, 2013 at 8:46 PM

The jihad for the global caliphate continues…Obama indirectly has helped in mali and has directly helped in Egpyt and Syria..and did jack squat in Iran..the one time he should of done something…he hates freedom

sadsushi on January 14, 2013 at 8:49 PM

Ugh. “Islamists.” Can we please finally dispense with this non-term and call them what they actually are: Muslims.

WhatSlushfund on January 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

This stark fear of using the word Muslim is one of the most distressing infirmities a human being can be afflicted with. It is mostly confined to the MSM, but now and then you find it in a little dog, and sometimes a man.

VorDaj on January 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Anybody remember what happened the last time France started a war they could not win?

I don’t know, are you talking about Vietnam, or Libya?

Socratease on January 14, 2013 at 7:46 PM

France’s track record is one of only “winning” when someone else comes to their rescue. Generally someone whose primary language is English, not French, namely either us, the British & Commonwealth, or both.

The last war they fought wholly on their own was against Prussia, in 1870-71. It ended with the Prussians dictating surrender terms in Paris.

French “interventions” tend to have even worse consequences than ours have had in the last four years. Chad comes to mind, as does Indochina in the Fifties.

It’s interesting to watch a French Socialist government once more acting exactly like the conservative (by French standards, at least) governments they accuse of all sorts of heinous things- like not being “internationalist” enough. Apparently, they also believe that “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!” should always trump “look before you leap”.

clear ether

eon

eon on January 14, 2013 at 9:01 PM

So the Taureg nomads of the north who get money running drugs and ciggies, overthrew the Malian government (such as it was).

Now Islamos who cut their teeth fighting Qadaffi in Libya and destroy ancient religious monuments are fighting their way south & trying to force out the Tauregs.

Within the last couple days Islamo rebs popped up behind Taureg “government” forces in a town thats a 10-minute drive from Bamako in a freeway-speed technical or armored fighting vehicle.

France has to help directly because its semi responsible but doesnt have all the techno help. The US cant/wont/shouldnt help directly but can quietly go about droning the crap out of the bad guys.

This requires executive leadership however, which is at the moment notably absent in the WH and Elysee Palace.

Sacramento on January 14, 2013 at 9:14 PM

It’s worth noting a few things here.

The main party to the conflict apart from the Mali government are Tuareg nationalists. I’m not sure why everyone is ignoring this aspect since the Tuareg conflict has simmered in the background for some time but I would bet that they make up about half of the small number of fighters we are talking about here. The Tuaregs were used by Gaddafi as a security force to protect his southern flank but also to clamp down further north whenever bits of Libya became a problem. They were also used in the on/off conflict with Chad which also prompted French intervention. The area in question really has nothing. I mean NOTHING. If you are unfortunate enough to be from that part of the world your either a mercenary or a smuggler and the economy is pretty much based on smuggling cigarettes, drugs, and taking foreign hostages. Contrary to what some have been saying, the area where the fighting has been taking place makes Afghanistan look like a Manhattan. Unlike Somalia there is no easy access to sea lanes. Unlike Afghanistan, there is not a nuclear armed country with geopolitical concerns next door. Even the river, which used to be a busy trade route, has pretty much dried up and is difficult to navigate. When I visited Timbuktu I was able to travel by boat but my understanding is that this is no longer possible. Places which warrant a dot on a map are often just a collection of sheds or even a hole in the ground which used to be a well. Algeria and Morocco will be following this closely because of their own rivalry but the numbers involved are telling.

We aren’t going to loose Mali. Almost all 14 million of Mali’s population live in the south. They will react badly and brutally if this disparate and desperate band of 3,000 or so clowns make it to an area which is populated with music loving Malians. The area under control of the MNLA/AQ types has a population of about a million and is about the size of France.

I’m not saying that these bad guys should not be taken on or that they aren’t a threat given the weapons they have (remember they used to be Gaddafi’s shock troops in the area) but I don’t see this taking on the kind of importance that Afghanistan and Somalia has to ourselves and AQ types. The AQ affiliated group there… Ansar Dine, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa – terrorising local people, destroying cultural treasures, and enforcing the amputations and public whippings prescribed by sharia law… haven’t endeared themselves to the locals. It was a rather sad part of the world when I was there and I recall 25 years ago men were trying to sell their swords to tourists to support their family… essentially selling their manhood. The primary driver for all this is climate rather than ideology. The place was dying when I was there and I am sure it is much much worse now.

The player to watch is the Mali army. As Allah has mentioned, they have had issues with loyalty and some have taken up with the Tuaregs and AQ types. But for the most part they just left the desert (who can blame them) and have been lording it up in the main population centers playing politics. The big concern was the panic these guys would cause if they approached the main areas of population. The French are suited to this kind of conflict and with the right mix of air power and ground forces they should be able to squash this force. Then it will be up to the Mali army to go back and tidy up.

lexhamfox on January 14, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Thanks for the info Leaham.

LegendHasIt on January 14, 2013 at 10:11 PM

American military presence in Germany and Okinawa (Japan) is still a World war II hangover. Camp Casey in Korea is a hangover from the Korean war-last active fighting 60 years ago. Casey is also militarily vulnerable sitting on the North korea border since it could be easily surrounded by the huge North Korean Army before you can say “WTF are we doing there?”

There uis nothing wrong with a temporary military presence but the downside, as we have seen, is that it encourages dependency and a laissez-faire “let Uncle (as in Sam) do it.” This is why the prepoderance of casualties in all “united” conflicts from Korea on have been American.

Yet anybody suggesting troop withdrawals from useless or untenable positions is called an “isolationist” or even a “defeatist”. We simply can’t be the world’s policemen if, for no other reason, than we’re broke and piling up debt at the rate of $7 billion a day.

MaiDee on January 15, 2013 at 9:29 AM