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As French troops push back Islamist militants in Mali, the U.S. is ferrying more French fighters into the African nation aboard C-17 transport planes. The violence in Mali comes at a time of spirited debate about how and when Washington should intervene in distant conflicts. While the U.S. draws down a decade-long war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is also formalizing rules about drone strikes and "targeted killings" elsewhere. We explore how new lethal tools and new economic constraints are influencing old debates about intervening abroad.