Friday, January 23, 2009

What a difference an inauguration makes: Liberals now cheering US illegal cross-border attacks

This is the flag-waving post currently running at Delawareliberal:

I think it took Bush 18 months to do somethin [sic] about terrorism...

First Post-Obama Attack in Pakistan Kills 4 Al Qaeda

PESHAWAR– At least ten people were killed in a suspected American missile attack in North Waziristan agency of Pakistan on Friday.

It was the first attack that took place after President Barack Obama’s entry in the office. Pakistani officials had expressed their hope that as president, Obama would stop the drone attacks.

It’s weird to have a president do so much in his first few days in office. As I recall, Bush was on vacation already, no?

Let's first put this attack in context before we go attributing this to the direct intervention of President Obama.

From December 22, 2008:

A US drone launched a series of missile strikes today in Pakistan’s South Waziristan Agency, killing eight and injuring an unknown number of others. The attacks hit two vehicles in separate villages in the area early in the morning. The first strike also destroyed a nearby house.

From January 1, 2009:

It was far from a happy New Year for the resident of South Waziristan’s Karikot region, after US drones fired three missiles, killing five people and sewing panic in the streets.

From January 2, 2009:

It’s the second day of the new year and the United States has launched its second attack in South Waziristan. Tribal sources had been reporting two US drones hovering over the area of Ladha Tehsil, in South Waziristan Agency, before the attack.

The two Hellfire missiles fired in the attack killed four militants and injured three other. One of the missiles struck a girls’ school run by the Pakistani government, while the other hit a nearby car apparently owned by the militants. The school, like many in the tribal areas of Pakistan, had been closed by the cash-poor government.

And here's a little more detail on today's attack:

A pair of missile strikes from American drones into Pakistan’s North and South Waziristan Agencies have killed at least 20 people, and injured an unknown number of others. This marks the first cross-border attack by US forces since President Obama took office on Tuesday.

Three missiles were fired at a house and another nearby building in Zera, North Waziristan killing 10 people and injuring many others. At least five of those killed in this incident were described by Pakistani officials as “foreign militants.”

Later, two other missiles were fired at a house in Wana, South Waziristan, also killing at least ten people. The identities of those killed was not readily apparent.

President Obama was a long time advocate of strikes into Pakistani territory, but the Pakistani government, which has publicly protested against such attacks, had expressed hope that the new administration might halt the attacks. The drone strikes have killed hundreds of people over the past several months, both militants and civilians. The United States rarely publicly admits to the attacks, part of what some in the media have dubbed a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” understanding between them and Pakistan’s civilian government.

Here's what our ally--the Pakistani government--has to say about this particular strategy:

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Thursday urged the United States to stop cross-border drone attacks inside Pakistan's territory.

Speaking at private TV channel GEO's program, Qureshi said that Pakistan had asked the United States to put a halt to drone attacks.

He said that such attacks were not in the interest of the two countries and also urged the United States to review its policy.

It has even been leaked that--despite the willingness of many senior officials to do nothing more than make token protests about the raids (which, evidence suggests, often kill civilians unaffiliated with Al Qaeda), that back in November the Pakistani Prime Minister approached the Obama team about halting such raids:

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani said today that his government is in “regular contact” with the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama, and expressed hope that they would halt the US policy of launching drone strikes inside Pakistan.

What was that line in the Inaugural Address again?

Oh, yeah:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- (cheers, applause) -- our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. (Cheers, applause.) And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And that we are ready to lead once more. (Cheers, applause.)

Unless, of course, you had to bad luck to grow up in a small village in Waziristan.

Here's what's happening, just so neither the liberal/progressives nor the conservative warhawks get to spin it without rebuttal:

It has long been a United States doctrine that we have the right to throw munitions into other people's countries, with or without their permission, without a declaration of war or the approval of any international entity like NATO or the UN, and that if we kill their civilians along with the people we're looking for ... tough shit.

Reagan: Libya, Lebanon

Bush 41: Panama

Clinton: the Sudan (remember the aspirin factory?), Afghanistan

Dubya: Pakistan, Syria

Obama: Pakistan (and after only three days--we should be so proud)

But, see, now that it's occurring in the Obama administration (as it did in the Clinton administration), we will find apologists rushing out to explain that Obama's tough, and that Obama's keeping us safe.

Aside from this particular piece of partisan hypocrisy, there are two very real consequences of this sort of behavior:

1) It pretty much removes any moral ground for the new administration to criticize Israeli conduct in Gaza; and

2) It highlights the fact (or it would, if anybody was actually paying attention) that one very predictable result of large-scale US military intervention anywhere in the world is that the region in question becomes more de-stabilized than it was before we got there.

Think about it: Pakistan and India are dancing around yet another war in Kashmir; Pakistan has little if any real control of the Waziristan region; the US is trying to get rid of the Karzai government; Karzai, in an effort to hold power, is cozying up to India and is building a trade conduit that passes through Iran; while China expresses, almost daily, greater interest in the newly perked oil and natural gas reserves under Afghan soil.

Yeah, boy, cleaning out the Taliban and chasing Al Qaeda through the mountains has certainly made things a lot more stable on the Indian sub-continent.


Tyler Nixon said...

Damn (Delaware)liberal warmonger chickenhawks!

Miko said...

To quote an old bumper sticker, "A Libertarian is a liberal who stays antiwar when the Democrats are in power."

Shirley Vandever said...

I was slumming today on The Huffington Post and many commenters were questioning whether or not Obama knew about this strike, ya know, him being new on the job and all.

Of course he did.

It is notable that the Huff headline was to the effect of "...strike kills Al Qaeda operatives", while if a Republican president had done it it would have been blatant warmongering.

Kinda tough to be in power, isn't it?

Tyler Nixon said...

Brilliant, Miko!

h. said...

But they didn't hit a wedding party. I guess it's ok if there is no collateral damage.

Hube said...

Dissecting DE Liberal is like shooting fish in a barrel, eh, Steve? And quite cathartic when the need arises.

Anonymous said...

Given that the Pakistani Air force could shoot the drones down... If They Wanted To... it's hard to see it as "illegal". looks like we have struck a balance (for the moment) we shoot sparingly and they protects weekly and mostly at home.

Steve Newton said...

If you truly believe the Pakistani Air Force could reliably shoot down Predator drones, you really should look into that AF's technical, basing, and logistical capabilities.

How do you shoot down drones in areas of Waziristan that aren't even covered in the Pakistani radar net?

Moroever, how does their failure to shoot down the drones make the act on our part any less illegal?

kavips said...

I was intrigued about what you know about this:

Karzai, in an effort to hold power, is cozying up to India and is building a trade conduit that passes through Iran;

Got links?

Steve Newton said...

I covered it in detail with links in the post immediately preceding this one