With some extra time over the long weekend, I was able to spend a bit more time on the comprehensive Africa news service, AllAfrica.com than usual.
One of the more interesting pieces I stumbled across was a guest column by Bernadette Paolo of the Africa Society and Vivian Lowry Derryck of the Bridges Institute. While I have briefly met Ms. Paolo (she is a prominent presence at the more mainstream, high powered African events inside the beltway), I must confess to complete ignorance of the existence of the Ms. Derryck and the later organization.
The column, “Mali: Test of US Will in Mali Conflict”, while somewhat redundantly titled, does indeed discuss the curious lack of American involvement in the current situation, which is curious, given that for several years (even before I was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Sahel) US military forces were training Malians in counter-terrorism tactic. Rather predictably, the Paolo-Derryck piece combines appeals to the humanitarian (mention of refugees) and the security conscious (mention of Al-Qaeda).
Unfortunately, and symptomatic of much political analysis, the opinion piece does not discuss much more than that. While one certainly recognizes space limitations, ignoring the precarious nature of the interim government in Bamako and the prior US support for counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel and Mali in particular is a significant omission. This omission is symptomatic of the typical US efforts in the region – supporting engagements that respond to the scenarios en vogue at the moment (an ‘Invisible Children Doctrine’). Will should be long term, not merely in response to drastic events.