Here are our must reads on what the world is saying about the U.S. today.
“A completely incapable force”
African troops in Mali are about to take on a lot of responsibility, responsibility the Pentagon says they are ill equipped to handle. After a conflict that pushed al Qaeda out of sections of northern Mali, French troops are about to start trickling home. Over the next few months, they will play more of a supporting role to troops from the UN-backed Economic Community of West African States. But those troops are “a completely incapable force,” said a senior Pentagon official to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee. As France24 reports, the Pentagon believes the French withdrawal will lead to another al Qaeda resurgence, despite the presence of 1,000 French troops that will remain in Mali indefinitely.
Britain pulls out of Afghanistan, again
Speaking of troops going home, a piece from The Spectator could be instructive on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In examining the UK’s imminent withdrawal from that country, writer Con Coughlin takes the long view, saying “Retreating from Afghanistan has never been a task at which the British military has excelled.” Coughlin argues that retreat is the most dangerous part of the battle, as the foreign military becomes too small to protect itself. He points to British troop withdrawals from Afghanistan dating back to 1839, claiming British politicians are ignoring the mistakes of the past. Food for thought, America? Read the full story to decide.
Staples—we’ve got that, but you can get it for less online
U.S. retail giant Staples will be shrinking 39 of its Canadian store, reports The Globe and Mail. This follows similar moves by Best buy Canada and other retailers, a sign of the pressure that these enormous stores feel as a result of the Internet’s cheap, bottomless supply of goods. “All these big boxes…were based on having the best prices and the largest selection,” says the CEO of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, a Staples’ landlord. “Eventually there will be a lot of downsizing.” Downsizing and lattes—Staples Canada is experimenting with ways of bring in more profits, like renting internal space to Starbucks. We’re just waiting for the day when Amazon can deliver you a hot coffee faster than a barista.