As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Most Dangerous Trouble Spot In The World Update

The top line of this story about head of the Pakistani Taliban Beitullah Mehsud is that he threatened an attack on Washington. The subhead is much more damaging, and should actually be listened to by the policymakers.

Beitullah Mehsud, an Islamist leader from the South Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, called several international news agencies in Pakistan to assert responsibility for the armed occupation of the police training compound that ended with 11 people dead.

He also told reporters that he was planning to attack targets in the U.S. capital in retaliation for more than 30 strikes by unmanned U.S. drones that have targeted suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

Charles Lemos had an interesting take:

It confirms my view that the predator drone attacks in Pakistan are having a positive effect depite the very real risk of alienating a major segement of the Pakistani population. While the aerial war in Afghanistan has been nothing short of a disaster, the unmanned attacks across the border have been more successful. One net positive of the Obama approach to the drone attacks is that they have widen the circle of targets which may also explain why the various elements of the Pashtun Taliban have now come together to join forces. By striking at the Mehsud network, the United States may be seeking to demonstrate to President Zardari that the Obama administration is willing to go after the insurgents of greatest concern to the Pakistani leadership. There are limits to the use of the predator drones, but it does seem clear that their use is disrupting the operations of the Islamist terror organizations.

Agreed to an extent, but one wonders how disruptive the attacks are when the same group can engineer a midday takeover of a police training compound. What it shows to me is that the consequences of drone attacks continue in Pakistan, just as they have in Afghanistan. They inflame local populations and turn them more militant and radical. They may succeed in the short term to disrupt terror organizations, but there's a cost as well as a benefit. If it gets Zardari off the sidelines, great. But more likely is the prospect that this will start to eat away at Zardari's leadership and make attacks inside Pakistan more likely. We're not going to bomb our way toward security against a terrorist threat. These tactics always come with consequences.

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