US Looking at Striking Pakistan

The Washington Post reports that the Obama Administration is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced backed to Pakistan.

Ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration's need for retaliatory options, the officials said. They stressed that a U.S. reprisal would be contemplated only under extreme circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack that leaves President Obama convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is insufficient.

"Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of Times Square," one of the officials said.

At the same time, the administration is trying to deepen ties to Pakistan's intelligence officials in a bid to head off any attack by militant groups. The United States and Pakistan have recently established a joint military intelligence center on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, and are in negotiations to set up another one near Quetta, the Pakistani city where the Afghan Taliban is based, according to the U.S. military officials. They and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding U.S. military and intelligence activities in Pakistan.

The "fusion centers" are meant to bolster Pakistani military operations by providing direct access to U.S. intelligence, including real-time video surveillance from drones controlled by the U.S. Special Operations Command, the officials said. But in an acknowledgment of the continuing mistrust between the two governments, the officials added that both sides also see the centers as a way to keep a closer eye on one another, as well as to monitor military operations and intelligence activities in insurgent areas.

Obama said during his campaign for the presidency that he would be willing to order strikes in Pakistan, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a television interview after the Times Square attempt that "if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences."

Obama dispatched his national security adviser, James L. Jones, and CIA Director Leon Panetta to Islamabad this month to deliver a similar message to Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari and the military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani.

Jones and Panetta also presented evidence gathered by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that Shahzad received significant support from the Pakistani Taliban.

The U.S. options for potential retaliatory action rely mainly on air and missile strikes, but could also employ small teams of U.S. Special Operations troops already positioned along the border with Afghanistan. One of the senior military officials said plans for military strikes in Pakistan have been revised significantly over the past several years, moving away from a "large, punitive response" to more measured plans meant to deliver retaliatory blows against specific militant groups.

The official added that there is a broad consensus in the U.S. military that airstrikes would at best erode the threat posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and risk an irreparable rupture in the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

We are already striking at Pakistan. Unmanned drone attacks have become so commonplace that they are not even reported anymore or at best reported in passing as if incidental. As of the end of April there had been 34 missile strikes, at least two every week, according to figures compiled by the New America Foundation. This compares to 53 for all of last year and 30 during the last year of the Bush Administration. In terms of fatalities, the New American Foundation reports that only seven of the 247 people in killed in strikes up until the end of April have been classified as militants or enemy combatants. If that number is accurate, that's a 2.8% hit rate.

UPDATE: Spencer Ackermann of the Washington Independent points to a new study on the efficacy of predator drone attacks in Pakistan. The forthcoming study, led by Brian Glyn Williams, an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, finds that the civilian death toll from the drones is lower than most media accounts present. The Williams study which runs through the end of February 2010 finds that there have been a total of 127 confirmed CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, killing a total of 1,247 people. Of those killed only 44 (or 3.53 percent) could be confirmed as civilians, while 963 (or 77.23 percent) were reported to be “militants” or “suspected militants.” Clearly the hit rate, and thus the efficacy of the predator drone attacks, is now a matter of intense study and debate. But what also should not be lost is the deletoroius effect that the drone attacks are having on Pakistani public opinion and ultimately on US-Pakistani relations.

The New York Times also has an editorial today on the subject of US-Pakistani relations. While the whole editorial is well worth the read, its conclusion is particularly striking. The Times editorial board concludes that "changing Pakistani attitudes about the United States will take generations." Generations.

Tags: Obama Administration, Afghanistan, Predator Drone Attacks, pakistan (all tags)

Comments

24 Comments

Intimadation 101

I appears that the administration is attempting to persuade the Pakistanis get tough. We already know they are being attacked by our drones and so do they.

by Ed beckmann 2010-05-29 12:37PM | 0 recs
What will they say...

the next time there is an incident in India ?  It has been standard operating procedure for the US to urge restraint, and for the Indians to work with the Pakistanis when such incidents have happened in the past !

 

 

by Ravi Verma 2010-05-29 12:42PM | 1 recs
RE: What will they say...

Good question.

by desmoinesdem 2010-05-29 02:39PM | 0 recs
Dunno

I don't really have a problem with India striking Pakistan if Pakistan had been negligent in cracking down on terrorists on their soil who strike at India.

Vice versa.

It's unforuante they have nukes.

by DTOzone 2010-05-30 03:45AM | 0 recs
If ?

Can you explain by what you mean by adding that "if Pakistan..." clause at the end. I did not realize that anyone had any doubts on the "if" .  And while you are at it, perhaps you can also explain the "vice versa".  I did not realize anyone had any "vice versa" issues either.

by Ravi Verma 2010-05-30 01:10PM | 0 recs
RE: If ?

Its nothing to think to hard about, the poster is just making it up as he goes a long, usually contrarian to common sense, with a tilt to obama adoration.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-30 03:42PM | 0 recs
Could you maybe

stop whining like a cranky baby for five minutes Jerome? You haven't had an ounce of common sense in any of your ramblings since like 2007.

by DTOzone 2010-05-30 11:11PM | 0 recs
RE: Could you maybe

lol, missed your reply in that other thread; something in your mouth?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-31 12:26AM | 0 recs
How is this hard to explain?

If terrorists kill Indians and Pakistan has been protecting them, I have no issue with India attacking Pakistan. If India is protecting terrorist who have kiilled Pakistani civilians, I have noi problem with Pakistan attacking India.

by DTOzone 2010-05-30 11:12PM | 0 recs
RE: If ?

The guy is a real genius.

by tarheel74 2010-05-30 11:37PM | 0 recs
Pakistan has always been a problem

It's funny how one of the reasons Cheney used to sell the war on Iraq was that there was some minor contact once with an Al Queda agent by someone in the Iraqui government even if they couldn't even spin that into something bigger. So that justified Iraq was a country we needed to attack ?? What if India threw a bomb at the US(not that it is practical) because the US has citizens that have cooperated in terrorist plots against India and the US government is complicit in blocking justice for its own homegrown terrorist? (the Half Pakistani origin guy from Chicago which the Obama administration refuses to give up to India for his part in the planning the Mumbai terror attack. Sounds foolish? Well, is that any worse than India attacking Iraq on grounds of terrorism and imminent threat?

The truth about Pakistan is this.Even the US Government does not know everything regardless of who is in power. They are made up of people who may have excelled at one point, but they are prone to human failings like anyone else. Other than the  historical Communist alignment that had India claiming neutrality with a slight Russian bent,  the other reason why the US was blind to Pakistan's shenangans boiled down to US military and foreign policy officials just enjoying Pakistani military company better than their counterparts in India who are prone to self righteous lecturing. At that point, personal feelings blinded these so called experts to obvious problems in Pakistan for a long time.

 

by Pravin 2010-05-29 07:14PM | 0 recs
RE: Pakistan has always been a problem

Unlike the all pervasive Pakistani army that is in charge of everything in Pakistan, the Indian army is firmly under civilian control. So I don't think any high level army official will have direct and unfettered authority to strike deals with US officials without the defense department of India being involved.

by tarheel74 2010-05-29 08:24PM | 0 recs
Like I said before

There is no coherent policy here. It's as if the policy is "let's throw everything at the wall and see what sticks". Here are a few things to ponder, while this plan for military strike is going on, US is also actively involved in selling military equipment, unamanned drones, F16s etc. to Pakistan, as well as a huge multi-billion dollar aid package. Now can someone tell me, wouldn't it be better to stop the aid flow and impose sanctions and force the Pakistani army to act.

The problem is who will they attack? The problem is not compartmentalized or limited to one province, anti-US sentiments is pervasive throughout the Pakistani society and army. There are reports that a major in the Pakistani army helped Shahzad in planning the failed Times Square bombing. Similarly there is evidence that a colonel in the Pakistani army helped orchestrate the attack in Mumbai.  So on the one hand the administration is planning military strikes and on the other hand giving military equipment and gobs of tax payer dollars. Color me unimpressed, but we have a more coherent policy for Iran and the last I checked Iranian citizens, even though much maligned by the US media, are not trying to blow up bombs in Times Square or in different embassies around the world.

by tarheel74 2010-05-29 07:21PM | 1 recs
With all do respect

this has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. The reason we send military equiptment to Pakistan is so the government can defend themselves from outside and internal forces seeking to overthrow them and install an Islamic State. the Pakistani government has been one bullet with a sense of direction, or one well position bomb away from becoming the Al-Qaeda State...with nukes. So, no, increasing the liklihood Osama Bin Laden will be the next President of Pakistan is not a good idea.

We are not fighting the Pakistani government, we're fighting forces who are also fighting the Pakistani government.

 

by DTOzone 2010-05-30 03:49AM | 0 recs
RE: With all do respect

Perhaps you can explain how F-16s and self propelled howitzers are going to be used by the Pakistanis to fight Osama bin Laden !

by Ravi Verma 2010-05-30 01:15PM | 0 recs
If I have to explain this to you

you're already too far gone.

by DTOzone 2010-05-30 11:13PM | 0 recs
RE: If I have to explain this to you

Dude he just called you out on your nonsensical blather, if this is your best response then it is quite obvious you know even less than you betray in your comments.

by tarheel74 2010-05-30 11:35PM | 0 recs
Is this your defense?

that anyone who disagrees with you "knows nothing." You do know that the Pakistani army has taken on extremists with the weapons and supplies we send them, extremeists who wish to stage a coup in the country. Extremists including those who are accused of killing Benazir Bhutto.

come back to me when your responses don't include "there are reports" and "there is evidence."

 

by DTOzone 2010-05-31 12:15AM | 0 recs
RE: Is this your defense?

Listen fool, first find out the weapons that were supplied to Pakistan and how they were used to "take on extremists" and then show up to talk here. Most people here are more informed than you are.

by tarheel74 2010-05-31 12:25AM | 0 recs
Perhaps

But maybe you could still explain how F-16s and howitzers are going to take out OBL !!

by Ravi Verma 2010-05-31 12:44AM | 0 recs
RE: With all do respect

Why do you open your big mouth and show off your ignorance every time? You know little of domestic affairs and even less about affairs pertaining to the subcontinent.

by tarheel74 2010-05-30 11:39PM | 0 recs
shove it PUMA

anyone who babbles like you did in that comment, struggling to find something to be outraged about by making statements that may or may not be fact, should not speak.

by DTOzone 2010-05-31 12:11AM | 0 recs
Fool

Yeah this more or less proves once and for all that you are truly an ignorant idiot!!

by tarheel74 2010-05-31 12:16AM | 0 recs
RE: Fool

Ah, the PUMA charge-- a sure sign of having lost.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-31 12:28AM | 1 recs

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