Up to 18 Hellfire missiles have destroyed a Taliban training camp in North Waziristan, the third drone strike since the attempted Time Square bombing.
We doubt the strategic success of these strikes and argued against them in the aftermath of Time Square. The timing was favorable for America to prove a real change in strategy, but brief kindness to Pakistan has reverted to drones, do more, and outright “consequences.”
Pakistanis certainly received Secretary Clinton’s message, but only out of fear that America will. In the words of the The News International, “America has any number of ways that are not necessarily military to make life uncomfortable for us.” And military means are already in motion by expanding drone strikes and doubling down pressure for a North Waziristan campaign.
Apparently the White House is still choosing fear over love in Pakistan, a strategy that trends long-term towards destabilization. America cannot allow the TTP to sow suspicion towards Pakistan.
We hope the drones did manage to hit something important rather than low-level, unidentified soldiers. Otherwise a million dollars was just spent in reaction to a $7,000 bomb, 142 times the cost and still a fraction of what America will spend in direct response to Faisal Shahzad. While the US government and media continue to cite “revenge” as the TTP’s motive, al-Qaeda’s economic warfare is in full progress.
That is why we oppose revenge from Washington, which has it stuck in its head that recruits can be scared away by death. Evolving tactics will partially counter drones and would be militants will continue to risk their lives for war. Revenge is not COIN; politics and diplomacy is COIN.
A wise strategy would play al-Qaeda’s game - not ignore it - and start saving.