The U.S. is reported to be "mulling" drone strikes in Mali, and has at the very least dispatched spy drones and support materials to aid French legionnaires and its Air Force.
If the U.S. conducts drone strikes in Mali, it probably wouldn’t be controversial in the U.S., said Bruce Hoffman, who is director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University in Washington.
“It’s boots on the ground that generates controversy,” he said.
Most political analysts agree that even though America has grown war weary, they still largely support the drone program. Strikes in Mali may be the best course of action that Washington has, especially if " boots on the ground" is what's going to generate the most controversy.
U.S. counterterrorism officials appear increasingly open to airstrikes against insurgents in northern Mali, according to J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center in Washington.
"Drone strikes or airstrikes will not restore Mali's territorial integrity or defeat the Islamists, but they may be the least bad option," said Mr. Pham, a senior strategy adviser to the U.S. military's Africa Command.
Though in a surprising turn, U.S. officials are now dragging their feet citing legal concerns.
A senior administration official said, "If we're going to provide something to anybody—our closest partner or our most distant acquaintance in the international realm ... we want to understand what the objective is. The more that country has the ability to do lethal action with that [aid], the more we're going to scrutinize it."
Clearly, Washington needs a more concrete outline of objectives before it initiates its "least bad option."
More From Business Insider