January 15, 2006
Pakistan, Missiles and Total Cost
Protests Spread Across Pakistan
Islamic Groups Stoke Anti-American Sentiment; Senators Defend Fatal Missile Strike
This article gives brief cause for reflexion on the utility of missile strikes on villages that may (or perhaps may not) be harbouring al-Qaeda leadership.
I am not ipso facto against such strikes, but the frequency of US blasting away from the air with apparently somewhat (understandably) weak intelligence and the cost of (likely) errors (or missed shots, an hour or two may make the difference) makes me think that the penchant for the low-risk (to personnel) options (force protection, penny wise, but perhaps pound foolish) is the enduring error on the part of the US.
Total cost of the policy. Is all being properly priced in? I don't know. However, not to be simple, there is the alternate total cost of doing nothing. Not easy questions, but the somewhat easy brush off of US senators I think reflects the problem of self-regard and inattention to total cost.
Posted by The Lounsbury at January 15, 2006 08:47 PM
Filed Under: Foreign Policy & MENA
TrackBack URL for this entry:
I suppose if we had gotten az-Zawahiri, we wouldn't be having this discussion, eh?
But certainly, I'd agree that it isn't worth causing all this trouble for a handful of lower-level guys.
... which certainly raises a question, doesn't it?
Posted by: praktike at January 16, 2006 12:36 AM
Possibly not, but my discomfort lies with the tool, not the fact of whacking them.
That is to say, I have the sensation the US military loves using its sledgehammers when a bit of pesticide would be better. And while whacking around with a sledgehammer is bound to kill a few bad little beggers up a bit, it's also likely to smash up a lot of stuff one might best have avoided smashing, if possible.
However, at the same time hand wringing and blithering on about evil Americans is as off base.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at January 16, 2006 12:54 AM
True, but for Pakistanis, blathering about evil Americans has the same logic as the US Senators brushing off the incidents.
Posted by: kao_hsien_chih at January 16, 2006 01:08 AM
al-zawahiri didn't get killed 'cause he'd declined an invitation to that dinner.
personally, i would prefer to use snipers and the like to capture/kill such people. the counterargument is that it would take too much time to infiltrate them and that it is actually next to impossible to get anyone close enough.
so sledgehammers it is.
of course, i am quite aware of the "so what if we kill a couple o'innocent mossies in the process???" attitude among the (in this case) u.s. politico-military establishment as well as rank-n-file.
Posted by: raf* at January 16, 2006 10:53 AM
I am not certain that sledgehammers are in fact the only real choice, they are certainly the "path of least resistance" but as this is a long haul issue, I should hope that US Gov would have the wisdom to invest in long haul solutions.
Of course "hoping" and real expectations are not identical.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at January 16, 2006 07:39 PM