Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan

Thomas Barnett says of the WaPo article describing recent American missile strikes against Taliban targets inside Pakistan:

Scary combination: we step up unilateral strikes inside another nation because we fear their new leadership will back away from such commitments. Does that sound sustainable to you?

The obvious answer is, No. But this also brings into stark relief the tension between the two pillars of President Bush’s Pakistan policy, namely national security/counter-terrorism on the one hand, and democracy promotion on the other. You’ll recall that it’s in the name of these two policy goals that President Bush was authorized by Congress to waive restrictions for the past seven years on foreign aid to Pakistan, a power he exercised just a few days ago. This recent campaign of missile strikes leaves little doubt as to President Bush’s priorities when the two come into conflict.

That they will come into conflict, too, seems obvious:

Local politicians also complain that the strikes only encourage militants to undertake retaliatory actions in urban areas. The politicians point to the recent string of suicide bombings of high-profile government targets in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Islamabad as evidence that militants are determined to take revenge for losses in the tribal areas.

“There’s no way Pakistan can afford to follow a policy that is causing a war at home,” said Khawaja Imran Raza, a top spokesman for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N faction.

That’s one of the more difficult selling points of the “Fight them over there, so we don’t fight them over here” argument. Because for the folks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, over there is over here. Enlisting allies in the fight against terrorism, which is so vital to the effort, becomes more difficult when we’re essentially outsourcing the attacks to the folks we’re trying to enlist.

I’ll have a bit more to say on this later, in a post I’m working up on John McCain’s “League of Democracies.” For now, though, this Jamestown Foundation article by Imtiaz Ali (who contributed to the reporing for the WaPo piece) is worth a read to get a better sense of just who it is we’re actually targetting in Northern Waziristan, now that the missiles are flying.