Stopping Pakistan Drone Strikes Suddenly Plausible

Until this week, it seemed like the conventional wisdom in Washington
was that stopping U.S drone strikes in Pakistan was outside the bounds
of respectable discussion.

That just changed. Or it should have.

in the Los Angeles Times, Doyle McManus notes that
counterinsurgency guru David Kilcullen has told Congress that U.S.
drone strikes in Pakistan are backfiring and should be stopped. Until
now Congress has been reluctant to challenge the drone strikes, as
they are reluctant in general to challenge "military strategy," even
when it appears to be causing terrible harm. But as McManus notes,
Kilcullen has unimpeachable Pentagon credentials. He served as a top
advisor in Iraq to General Petraeus on counterinsurgency, and is
credited as having helped design the Iraq "surge." Now, anyone in
Washington who wants to challenge the drone strikes has all the
political cover they could reasonably expect.

And what Kilcullen said leaves very little room for creative misinterpretation:

"Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using
drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani
civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular.
They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise
to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the
extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. ... The current path that
we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over
its own population."

Presumably, causing the Pakistani government to lose "control of its
own population" is not an objective of United States foreign policy.

McManus says there's no sign that the Obama Administration is taking
Kilcullen's advice and Obama administration is unlikely to abandon
"one of the few strategies that has produced results." But a
Washington Post report suggests

Although the missile attacks are privately approved by the
Pakistani government, despite its public denunciations, they are
highly unpopular among the public. As Zardari's domestic problems have
grown, the Obama administration last month cut the frequency of the
attacks. Some senior U.S. officials think they have reached the point
of diminishing returns and the administration is debating the rate at
which they should continue.

Since it is manifestly apparent that 1) the drone strikes are causing
civilian casualties 2) they are turning Pakistani public opinion
against their government and against the U.S. 3) they are recruiting
more support for insurgents and 4) even military experts think the
strikes are doing more harm than good, even from the point of view of
U.S. officials, why shouldn't they stop? Why not at least a time-out?

Why shouldn't Members of Congress ask for some justification for the
continuation of these strikes? The Pentagon is asking for more money.
It's time for Congress to ask some questions.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.