Monday, August 10, 2009

Pakistan an Obama Administration Foreign Policy Success

When President Barack Obama was elected, the Hedgehog Blog promised to be a loyal opposition, supporting the President when he stood in the right and respectfully dissenting when he did not. Therefore it is pleasing to note that in Pakistan the Obama Administration has achieved a notable foreign policy success.

Just three months ago, as an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal notes, the Taliban had captured the Swat Valley and was marching toward Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Today, the Pakistani armed forces have the Taliban on the run in the Swat Valley, and now it appears that a missile fired last week from a CIA predator drone aircraft, such as the one pictured above right, killed the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud. One unconfirmed news report over the weekend recounted that at a meeting of Taliban leaders to discuss the succession following Mehsud's death, shooting broke out between factions supporting different candidates, resulting in the death of one leading contender.

It is worth noting, of course, that the Obama Administration achieved its success in Pakistan by urging the Pakistani government to steadfastly confront Islamist extremists, and by continuing the directive to the CIA to hunt down and eliminate Taliban leaders, through the use of drone aircraft. In other words, the foreign policy achievements in Pakistan resulted from the continuation of policies initiated by the George W. Bush Administration. Of course, many of the President's supporters on the left deplore CIA assassinations of Islamist terrorist leaders. President Obama himself regularly tries to score poltical points by emphasizing his departures from Bush Administration policies. Perhaps he would be so considerate as to acknowledge the success of a W policy carryover.


Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Reader Daniel from the Community at Newsy ( wrote us by e-mail, commenting:

I read Ralph's post about the assassination of Baitullah Mehsud and, while I certainly support destroying the Taliban wherever they go, one thing I noticed was missing from the post that I thought would be relevant was that the missile from the drone also killed Mehsud's second wife as well as another civilian (I believe it was an in-law of his, but I can't say with certainty).

I think this would be relevant because, while Pakistan doubtless appreciated the assassination of Mehsud, every civilian casualty makes public relations with the people of Pakistan more difficult.

In fact, according to a report released by the Brookings Institution, 10 civilians are killed for every intended target. You can see a little bit more about that from our video at, which raises the moral question about the drone assassinations.

I would still observe that the drone strikes seem far more effective than ground troops, especially in some of the more mountainous regions. But regardless, this is an issue that bears consideration, and I'd be interested to hear your or Ralph's thoughts.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Here was my response to Daniel at Community at Newsy:

Thank you for your e-mail, which Lowell forwarded to me. You raise a legitimate issue that is of concern to every person of conscience. The armed forces of both the United States and Israel take efforts to try to limit civilian casualties to an extent that is unprecedented in the history of warfare, in many cases even at an increased risk to their own soldiers. Nonetheless, civilian casualties will occur so long as there are wars. I would only point out that the avoidance of civilian casualties is not of any concern to the Taliban and other Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas and Al Qaeda, which deliberately target civilians, with, for example, the indiscriminate shelling of towns, car bombs on public streets and the bombing of restaurants, movie theaters and, in Iraq, Shiite mosques. They also deliberately place their own military facilities in civilian apartment buildings, hospitals and schools, in part because they know that their enemies may be reticent to strike a target if there is a danger of civilian losses, and in part because if there are civilian deaths and wounded the terrorists will cynically use the incident for propaganda purposes. Also, in order to discourage girls from attending school, the Taliban in Afghanistan have attacked the school teachers and students, even throwing acid into the faces of young girls. Perhaps the best one can hope for in the West for that we maintain our humanity and continue to be sensitive to the issue of civilian suffering, and not sink to the level of our enemies.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 11:00:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home