Afghanistan/Pakistan: Death from above 2009

U.S. military has massively expanded use of remote-piloted drone attacks within Pakistan since last autumn, and especially since Obama’s inauguration.

Problem: Some analysts say drone attacks are really, really bad counterinsurgency, because they leave the innocent with the guilty to die in the rubble, and grief and anger are an excellent recruiting tool for extremism. That argument is well canvassed in this piece.

But in fact, an understanding of the nasty blowback airstrikes can provoke seems to be driving some of the strategic thinking in Afghanistan. This piece says one reason Obama has sent 17,000 incremental troops to Afghanistan, and may well send more, is that more troops will “enable U.S. and allied commanders to reduce their reliance on the airstrikes and Special Forces raids that have inflicted growing civilian casualties…”

Is it possible that the efforts of all those freshly-arriving U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan could be undone by resentments fuelled by all those U.S. airstrikes in Pakistan? I doubt it’s possible to know the answer, but I still think the question is worth raising. Obama is to unveil his new Afghanistan strategy this week or next. Which is Yet Another reason why it would have been handy to have the banks fixed by now, if that were possible.

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