The Obama Administration has spent months endorsing French calls for war in Mali, but last weekend’s invasion took them, and indeed everyone else, off guard. Some US aircraft and surveillance drones are in place, but with the war being initially planned for autumn, broader US support simply wasn’t.
Still, the administration never saw an open-ended “war on terror” it didn’t want a piece of, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says that the US is promising to provide whatever aid the French need for the invasion.
Exactly what that aid will entail is unclear, and officials are declining specific comments on what they’re doing in Mali already, let alone what escalations they might announce for US involvement in the future.
But just over 48 hours into the war, it’s already turning extremely ugly, with major death tolls, including civilians, and the rebels continuing to advance in spite of the French attacks. All this sets the stage for the US getting sucked even deeper into this war, determined to restore junta control over the north.