The Sunday NYT story on the French intervention in Mali noted that the United States had long trained Mali forces but had also long believed that “a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe.” The FT’s Geoff Dyer says today, in a good analysis, that the Mali crisis “presents the Obama administration with one of its worst nightmares – a military conflict it does not believe in against a terrorist group it is increasingly rattled about.” The administration now seems to be worrying more about the terrorists in Mali, and to be changing its mind about the wisdom of military involvement there. The L.A. Times notes that the USG is providing (or planning to provide) support for France in terms of drones, other surveillance aircraft, other forms of intelligence, and Air Force cargo planes. And the NYT reports that the USG is considering midflight refueling and other transport plans. “We have a responsibility to go after al Qaeda wherever they are,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said yesterday. “[W]e have promised them . . . we would work with them, to cooperate with them, to provide whatever assistance we can to try to help them in that effort,” he added. One wishes there were more public and congressional debate about our growing involvement in Mali. For critical looks at the USG role in the Mali mess, see the analyses by Meade and Greenwald.