David Frum

01.21.13

Not a Fake Headline: France Mad at United States for Not Vigorously Supporting an Intervention

Malian soldiers sit at the back of a pickup truck as they arrive in the city of Diabaly on January 21, 2013. French and Malian troops today recaptured the Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from Islamist fighters, France's defence minister said.French and Malian troops earlier today entered Diabaly, which has been the theatre of air strikes and fighting since being seized by Islamists a week ago, an AFP journalist witnessed. ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images ()

This is not something I thought we'd ever see again:

France is increasingly upset by what it sees as limited Obama administration support for the war it is waging in Mali against al Qaeda militants, including an initial U.S. demand, since dropped, that Paris foot the bill for any Air Force transport flights, French officials said. After the French went public with their complaints over the weekend, the Pentagon yielded on one of them, saying Sunday night that it would not seek reimbursement from Paris for the flights.

However, the unusually harsh criticism from Paris underscored the longtime U.S. ally's growing frustration with the U.S. commitment to the Mali mission. The U.S. is providing "invaluable" intelligence-gathering help for the Mali campaign, the French officials said. But the U.S. has yet to decide on whether to agree to France's request for U.S. planes to refuel French fighters in flight, they said. France has a small fleet of aging refueling tankers and says more are needed to maintain the tempo of air operations in remote Mali.