6.02.2010

On the Brink of Spilling Into Pakistan

I'm opposed to additional U.S. military incursions and efforts in Pakistan, as I've noted.

In February we learned that U.S. special forces were operating in that country.  And numerous U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan should have alerted us to such a fact even earlier.

Now, over the weekend, we learned this:

The U.S. military is developing plans for a unilateral attack on the Pakistani Taliban in the event of a successful terrorist strike in the United States that can be traced to them, The Washington Post reports.

Planning for a retaliatory attack was spurred by ties between alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad and elements of the Pakistani Taliban, the Post said in an article posted on its website Friday night, quoting unidentified senior military officials.

The military would focus on air and missile strikes but also could use small teams of U.S. Special Operations troops currently along the border with Afghanistan, the Post said.

Kindling is added to the tinder.

I think the President and the Defense Department need to step back from the brink and think about the consequences of launching a full out war in yet another country in Asia.  The U.S. military is already overextended, and even if conflict in Pakistan would be contiguous with the effort in Afghanistan (and admittedly, a key al-Qaida figure in the border region was killed by a cross-border drone recently), the further extension of hostilities would be most unwise.

If Pakistan is too weak to function as a state in the effort to squeeze Taliban and al-Qaida forces that have taken refuge in that country, then the U.S. needs to take greater indirect steps to reinforce that state (and, I suppose, run the risk that it will lead to some unforeseen outcome down the road as so often happens in the region).  The Taliban openly hosted al-Qaida in Afghanistan - while the Pakistani government, even if it is unable to completely rid itself of Taliban and al-Qaida forces in the frontier provinces, does not seem overtly hospitable.

I'm open to discussion on the topic - but I think it's imperative, at this time when the nation is facing so many sources of stress, to avoid the further hubris of opening an even wider war in yet another country.