Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bush Administration's Predator Air Strikes Degrade Al Qaeda in Pakistan

I was surprised to read the positive treatment, in the L.A. Times, of the Bush administration's policy of Predator drone stikes on Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas: "U.S. Missile Strikes Take Heavy Toll on Al Qaeda, Officials Say":

An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say.

The pace of the Predator attacks has accelerated dramatically since August, when the Bush administration made a previously undisclosed decision to abandon the practice of obtaining permission from the Pakistani government before launching missiles from the unmanned aircraft.

Since Aug. 31, the CIA has carried out at least 38 Predator strikes in northwest Pakistan, compared with 10 reported attacks in 2006 and 2007 combined, in what has become the CIA's most expansive targeted killing program since the Vietnam War.

Because of its success, the Obama administration is set to continue the accelerated campaign despite civilian casualties that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment and prompted protests from the Pakistani government.
I'm also a little surprised that President Obama is actually willing to carry on with a robust antiterror policy of his reviled predecessor.

What does not surprise me is the response on the left,
especially that of Matthew Yglesias (via Memeorandum):

Matthew Yglesias

I can’t imagine that an American president ever would or should completely disavow the right to launch this sort of attack. But still, I think people should be concerned about our government’s growing enthusiasm for this tactic and the possibility that the Obama administration will start to rely on it even more heavily. Simply put, there’s little evidence to suggest that this kind of thing can achieve a strategic victory over al-Qaeda, though it may or may not reduce short-term vulnerabilities ... The impact of these strikes on public opinion in the Muslim world writ large, and specifically on political dynamics inside Pakistan, can easily outweigh the gains from killing even a bona fide bad guy.
Yeah. Right.

Al Qaeda's utterly decimated and Yglesias is (1) in classic neo-Marxist anti-imperial denial, and (2) public opinion in the Muslim world was badly shaken by last November's Mumbai attacks (see, "
Muslims Condemn Mumbai Attacks, Worry About Image"); the evils that descended on the people of Mumbai, and most wrenchingly, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, were planned and executed by many of the same remnant forces U.S. predator drones are now destroying.

The folks on the antiwar left are just awful people. As I've written previously, Matthew Yglesias has never met a policy of appeasement he didn't like.

Photo Credit: "The Radical Foreign Policy of Matthew Yglesias."

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UPDATE: I just found Daniel Byman's, "Taliban vs. Predator: Are Targeted Killings Inside Pakistan a Good Idea?" Here's a key nugget:

What the Obama administration’s reliance on Predator strikes ultimately shows is just how flummoxed U.S. policymakers are when it comes to Pakistan. Stopping al Qaeda from using Pakistan as a base will depend on strengthening the government of Pakistan and stiffening its will to go after its own homegrown jihadis - a tall order indeed. The current political leadership is weak and not fully committed to democracy and true reform. Civilian control over the military is nonexistent, and, in addition to the jihadist problem, bitter ethnic, sectarian, and political divisions threaten Pakistan’s unity. As the Obama administration begins the slow process of addressing these issues, the sad truth is that relying on bolts from the blue to keep al Qaeda and the Taliban weak and off balance is a sensible course to follow.

4 comments:

Philippe Ohlund said...

Nice post, Donald! :-)

I still remember the awful fate of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

We certainly live in a crazy world!

Then it is reassuring that you are out here Donald, reporting about it.

Norm said...

The picture of Kate Perry was much, much better ! Hey moron, take the napkin off your head.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Dr.D,
I remember when I was a kid my mother used to buy laundry soap that contained a towel inside. They were atrocious, but they were free, which was what my family needed. That towel looks like one of them. Quite the fashion statement.

Tom the Redhunter said...

What's ironic is that for the past 6 years the left has been telling us that Iraq was a distraction, but boy they were ready and eager to fight in Afghanistan!

I guess they didn't think it through and realize that real wars, as opposed to those on paper, are messy.

As such, we are faced with the issue of al Qaeda and Taliban types in Pakistan.

To strike or not to stike?

It was a tough call, but as I think your post shows, the correct one.

So now the left is having second thoughts. And they look at the complications and... are paralyzed into inaction.

I'm glad we had GWB in office during the critical years.