Daily Archives: March 18, 2009

Gideon Rachman

There is a fascinating and slightly alarming story in the New York Times, suggesting that the Obama administration is thinking of extending US military action in Pakistan – in a bid to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda. The idea is that bombing by pilotless drones could be extended beyond the tribal areas of Pakistan and into areas that are directly controlled by the central government, such as Baluchistan. These could be supplemented by commando raids into the area around the city of Quetta – which is believed to be the residence of Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban.

I can see the temptation. But this still strikes me as a bad idea. Of course, I don’t have the intelligence – so I cannot know how successful the current strikes have been. And if Obama thought he could get Osama, I can see it would be hard to say No. (That would be worth at least 10 points in the polls.)

But the whole thing has an uncomfortable Vietnam-era ring to it. This is the process whereby a liberal Democrat (JFK or LBJ) gets steadily sucked further into a war he doesn’t really want to fight: more troops for Vietnam/Afghanistan; raids on the enemies safe havens in neighbouring Cambodia/Pakistan – resulting in the wholesale destablisation of another country.