If you are looking for a microcosm of the U.S. struggle to fight extremism with a development face, look no further than Mali. Karin Brulliard's excellent piece in today's Washington Post (Africa on the front page!) explains the context just right: a poor country, long a crossroads of different cultures welcomed by tolerant Islam, is facing new pressures from foreign influences, including spillover from internal Algerian strife. The U.S. is trying to build Malian capacity to contain terrorist groups and also to promote development as a deterrent to the lure of recruiters. But, as Brulliard hints, we don't really know how well we are doing, nor whether our efforts are misdirected. This is an issue we at CGD will be looking at more closely over the next few months: how does development fit within a counter-terrorism strategy?

I also enjoyed this article by Brulliard on the millennium-long Timbuktu salt trade shifting from camels to trucks. Insightful window on the tensions of modernization in a place like Mali.