Not my line but Ron Beasley's at cernig's place.
I picked up the meme when Brzezinski more or less mentioned it in FT. Now Juan Cole expands on the idea, pointing out that Obama's pronouncements have already pissed off the wrong people in Pakistan and stirring up an already muddy diplomatic swamp.
Obama's aggressive stance, on the other hand, could be counterproductive. The Illinois senator had praised the Pakistani elections of last February, issuing a statement the next day saying, "Yesterday, a moderate majority of the Pakistani people made their voices heard, and chose a new direction." He criticized the Bush administration, saying U.S. interests would be better served by "advancing the interests of the Pakistani people, not just Pakistan's president."
Yet the parties elected in February in Pakistan are precisely the ones demanding negotiations with the tribes and militants of the northwest, rather than frontal military assaults. Indeed, it is the Bush administration that has pushed for military strikes in the FATA areas. Obama will have to decide whether he wants to risk undermining the elected government and perhaps increasing the power of the military by continuing to insist loudly and publicly on unilateral U.S. attacks on Pakistani territory.
This is the kind of pitfall that can snag a US Senator accustomed to lofty rhetoric that C-SPAN might cover but most constituents will not notice. On the world stage, however, there are no "constituents."
Like Beasley I hope Obama is just "being tough" for the sake of the election. After all, the words of a Senator do not carry the same weight as the same words from a US president (thank the Lord). And as Cernig points out in the comments, he may be softening up the situation with the expectation of coming back later with more, uh, persuasive tools. Dangerous, indeed.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Posted by Hoots at 5:38 AM