The US is reportedly going to provide more tactical help to French troops trying to keep Islamist rebels from overtaking Mali, and a former US ambassador to the country says it can't come too soon. Helping France succeed is "in our national interest," argues Vicki Huddleston in the New York Times. The rebels in Mali have ties to the notorious Boko Haram group, as well as to Ansar al-Sharia, the militia thought to be behind the Benghazi attack that killed ambassador Chris Stevens.
"Until the French stepped in, the near-collapse of the military had threatened to turn Mali, a landlocked, desperately poor country, into a desert stronghold for jihadists," writes Huddleston. The US is spread thin in Afghanistan and elsewhere, so ground troops are off the table. But providing intelligence, money, and training—along with pressure on other African nations to intervene—is a necessary investment. If the US doesn't want Mali to "become a launchpad for terrorism," it "must not dither in doing its share." Click for Huddleston's full column.