Is Obama moving to escalate the war in Pakistan?
The United States is at war in Pakistan. It will be up to historians to decide when this war began.
“Drone Strikes Pound West Pakistan” says the headline above a brief report in the New York Times. After the CIA fired 18 missiles resulting in at least 14 deaths on Tuesday, the operation was described merely as “a continuation of the air campaign to degrade the capabilities of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban fighters now working together in North Waziristan” (my emphasis).
“Continuation” is another name for escalation when developments that should prompt alarm have already been inoculated with the name “necessity.”
A course of action that if it initiated by George Bush might have been seen as an expression of his intemperate nature, when pursued by no-drama Obama is instead billed as a judicious expansion in the use of force.
But the danger of escalation — now as always — is that the seemingly carefully calibrated expansion of a war has unintended and far-reaching consequences. Only after it’s too late do we learn that the calibration rested on nothing more than wishful thinking.