Even as angry protests spread in Pakistan, Pentagon officials said Thursday that the number of cross-border commando missions may grow in coming months to counter increasing violence in Afghanistan…Pakistani officials said U.S. troops flew into South Waziristan by helicopter in the raid and that as many as 20 people were killed, many thought to be civilians. The White House, State Department and Pentagon all moved to clamp down on administration discussion of the assault, but government officials confirmed the broad details provided by the Pakistani government.
UPDATE: Andrew Cochran does not see any daylight between the attitudes of the President, Obama, and McCain on this issue:
I assume that we will mount other such attacks, perhaps frequently, in President Bush’s remaining term in office. That’s a strategic direction of major consequence which the next President will have to review, but I cannot imagine either of the current candidates putting the gloves back on and withdrawing that capability.
With the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban becoming increasingly distinct, the most promising option from Al Qaeda’s perspective is to foster and deepen its relationship with the Pakistani rather than the Afghan Taliban.
The key to defeating Al-Qaida will be to undermine its local base in the Afghan- Pakistan border area. The Afghan and Pakistan governments must encourage a measure of security and good governance in these areas. Furthermore, it will be important to promote the drift of the Afghan Taliban away from Al-Qaida…The Pakistan government, on the other hand, needs to drive a wedge between tribal leaders and Al-Qaida.
The international community can and must help with this, but it will have to do so carefully. Al-Qaida will fight hard to obstruct the influence of the central government (in both Pakistan and Afghanistan) and will try to discredit it by arguing that it acts on behalf of external interests; it will aim to provoke further intervention by foreign forces, knowing that this is the one thing all the tribes will unite against. In order to be successful, therefore, the key objectives need to be achieved – and need to be seen to be achieved – by local governments on their own rather than as a result of external intervention.
On the other side of the border the Pakistan Government will face as much of a challenge to its stability as does its Afghan neighbour. It too is likely to make mistakes. But these will be easily exacerbated by any obvious foreign intervention…[P]ouring more troops into Afghanistan will not help if it alienates the local population and allows both Pakistan and Afghan Taliban to forget their internal differences and combine against a common enemy.
The Pentagon’s push for more aggressive action is a massive mistake. They will give al-Qaida (AQ) what it needs to discredit the Pakistani government at a moment of heightened instability and provide the outside pressure (of exactly the wrong kind) that will reunite the splintering Pakistani and Afghan Taliban factions. If you combine this bad, bad, move with the “Afghan surge” proposed by both major U.S. presidential candidates, what’s lurking on the horizon is a massive miscarriage of foreign policy on the part of the United States.
A flood of troops into Afghanistan and belligerent activities in the border regions of Pakistan (especially when they continue the pattern of non-combatant casualties) will strengthen the Taliban, benefit AQ and worsen terrorism worldwide. The path forward that’s coalescing for the U.S. will only be a win for bin Laden, the Taliban, and the those who make their living producing weapons for the Armed Forces.
I’ve blogged about this previously, but I reiterate: from a strategic standpoint, the use of violent military force is a liability in the struggle to stop terrorist networks. But more than that, we Christians in America must take a step back and realize that the methods our government is using to “rid the world of evil” only ensures its persistence. Jesus taught us that we are to love our enemies, not kill them. The only real way to fight evil is to love your enemies so much that you’d die before you’d harm them. That’s a hard lesson to take, but it’s the lesson taught by Christ.