On Mali, Some Sanity From the Nominee for Defense Secretary

A while ago, I mentioned that regarding any possible intervention in Mali, no one is discussing the obvious historical parallels of following France into a country without clear objectives. It appears that Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel is thinking along the same lines:

Should Chuck Hagel become the next U.S. secretary of defense, one of his priorities will be ensuring France’s 3-week-old campaign in Mali doesn’t become the next American shadow war.

In prepared questions to the Senate Armed Services Committee ahead of his Thursday morning confirmation hearing, the former Nebraska Republican senator said he’d back the French campaign against Islamist forces in the Malian north “without deploying U.S. combat forces on the ground.” Hagel backs training a United Nations-authorized African force to take over from the French, but the U.S. military is staying out of that effort, currently overseen by the State Department.

Outside of propping up the African forces, Hagel told the panel he supports “assisting the movement of French and African forces [and] providing intelligence and planning support” to the French. Midair refueling, something the French have sought and which a U.S. KC-135 tanker began providing on Sunday, wasn’t part of Hagel’s list.

Hagel is a conservative, but he’s also a Vietnam veteran. Appears he might have learned something along the way. He also seems sane too.

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