Thursday :: Mar 27, 2008

Bombing Diplomacy

by Turkana

For some strange reason, Pakistan doesn't want to be Bush's puppet. For some strange reason, Pakistan formed a new government. Then, the new government announced they'd talk to opposition militants. They also freed the judges who were imprisoned by the Musharraf government for having attempted to assert the rule of law. Now, the Bush Administration is trying to pretend to want to make nice. As reported by the Guardian:

The Bush administration is scrambling to engage with Pakistan's new rulers as power flows from its strong ally, President Pervez Musharraf, to a powerful civilian government buoyed by anti-American sentiment.

Top diplomats John Negroponte and Richard Boucher travelled to a mountain fortress near the Afghan border yesterday as part of a hastily announced visit that has received a tepid reception.

On Tuesday, senior coalition partner Nawaz Sharif gave the visiting Americans a public scolding for using Pakistan as a "killing field" and relying too much on Musharraf.

Yesterday the new prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, said he warned President George Bush in a phone conversation that he would prioritise talking as well as shooting in the battle against Islamist extremism. "He said that a comprehensive approach is required in this regard, specially combining a political approach with development," a statement said.

Some might suggest that Negroponte might not be the most diplomatic choice to send on a mission of diplomacy, but diplomacy isn't exactly a Bush strong point.

It was "unacceptable that while giving peace to the world we make our own country a killing field," Sharif said, echoing widespread public anger at US-funded military operations in the tribal belt.

"If America wants to see itself clean of terrorism, we also want our villages and towns not to be bombed," he said.

And a sovereign nation not wanting its villages and towns to be bombed is always a sticking point with the Bush Administration. As reported by the Washington Post:

The United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that the country's new leaders will insist on a scaling back of military operations in that country, according to U.S. officials.

Washington is worried that pro-Western President Pervez Musharraf, who has generally supported the U.S. strikes, will almost certainly have reduced powers in the months ahead, and so it wants to inflict as much damage as it can to al-Qaeda's network now, the officials said.

Over the past two months, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft have struck at least three sites used by al-Qaeda operatives. The attacks followed a tacit understanding with Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, but not against the Pakistani Taliban, the officials said.

Yes, when a new government asserts its desire for sovereignty, the most diplomatic answer is to escalate bombing it. Bombing its "tribal areas." Which were tacitly allowed to be bombed by the previous Pakistani government. The one just voted out of power. Bombing to kill al-Qaeda members. But not Pakistani Taliban members. Who can be clearly distinguished from one another. Which is why Bush is still trying to bomb them, six years later. Because he let them get away. Because Bush turned his attention elsewhere.

As the Post article continues:

Some military officers have privately cautioned that airstrikes alone -- without more U.S. special forces soldiers on the ground in the region -- are unlikely to net the top al-Qaeda leaders.

The campaign is not specifically designed to capture bin Laden before Bush leaves office, administration officials said. "It's not a blitz to close this chapter," said a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing operations. "If we find the leadership, then we'll go after it. But nothing can be done to put al-Qaeda away in the next nine or 10 months. In the long haul, it's an issue that extends beyond this administration."

As are all issues. The next administration will spend the bulk of its first term just trying to begin to clean up Bush's messes. Unless it's a McCain Administration, in which case it will spend the bulk of its first term making those messes worse. But nothing will be more helpful in building trust and respect with Pakistan than escalating bombing because of a fear that the new Pakistani government will tell our government to stop bombing.

Turkana :: 12:14 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!