November 26, 2011

Um, are we going to war with Pakistan now?

Via Reuters;
NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging U.S.-Pakistan relations deeper into crisis.

Pakistan shut down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan - used for sending in nearly half of the alliance's land shipments - in retaliation for the worst such incident since Islamabad uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Islamabad also said it had ordered the United States to vacate a drone base in the country, but a senior U.S. official said Washington had received no such request and noted that Pakistan had made similar eviction threats in the past, without following through.

NATO and U.S. officials expressed regret about the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers, indicating the attack may have been an error; but the exact circumstances remained unclear.
The president could be strong and tell Afghanistan that the attack was an accident, and demand they re-open the supply routes.  Or president Obama could just accelerate the withdrawal from Afghanistan, get out of dodge, apologize, and let the region descend further into anarchy.  The real question that is going to be asked in the White House, is this; what course of action makes Obama look best in the 2012 election?

War with Pakistan? And therefore Afghanistan as well (remember what Karzai said) will be an enemy again?  There really isn't a good way out of this.  The one area Obama has a bit of momentum is on national security (killing Bin Laden and following up with everyone they found on his computer), that advantage for 2012 may disappear as a result of this accident.  That may drive the decisioning here, and that's not good.

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