While I append a question mark to my title, I have the same sense after hearing Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN this evening that I had when, years back, I read the initial New York Times article paving the way for the invasion of Iraq.
It now seems that more persistent drone attacks to root out terrorist enclaves in the mountainous border territories between Afganistan and Pakistan will occur. With widespread acquiescence in Pakistan to the launch of such attacks.
So difficult is the situation in Pakistan, and so clearly is the country in danger of being reduced to anarchy and possible takeover by the terror axis, that the attitude seems to be — If the the US can get rid of the bad guys with minimal civilian casualties, let them do it.
I can see this unfolding, sooner than later, with every footstep the Taliban takes in the direction of extending its Swat Valley victory to populous Punjab. Destabilize Punjab — the country’s gone.
Would this draconian strategy, possibly confined to areas where persons were encouraged to evacuate in advance, and utilizing something as primitive but effective as tear gas, be seen as a viable way to proceed?
I can say only this: It is not unthinkable that a measured and targeted response could be promulgated and seen as preferable to doing nothing.
This does not address the current assault of the Taliban in Pakistan, but it might create attention on the main thing that President Bush ignored during his eight years of woeful mismanagement. Rooting out Al Qaeda.
The stakes are such that this solution must be seen in the context of doing nothing or not enough. These would include the possible domination of Pakistan by terrorists with access to nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them along with the likely imposition of the same conditions that the Taliban sought successfully to impose during its time of power in Afghanistan and which it now imposes in Swat Valley.
I guess the way to phrase this question is to ask whether we would, in retrospect, approve such an attack against Hitler the minute he moved on France.
Then too, there is the ultimate reality, which applies both to the on the ground terrorists and to those around the world who foment terror on the seas. Economic justice and the elimination of desperate poverty and scant opportunity is not a total cure, but it is vastly more important than punitive attacks, however necessary they may be. We cannot justify one without doing the other.