Liberal Grace

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bombing bin Laden could spectacularly backfire on the US

The only good solutions for al Qaeda are non-military -- which means they are well-beyond the imagination of the GOP.

I was in Pakistan last week and it reinforced my sense that Pervaiz Musharraf is in a helluva bind.

I was there in the heels of Cheney's arm-twisting tour external link and calls in the Senate to strike inside Pakistan external link if Musharraf doesn't expel the Taliban from their hideouts in Waziristan.

This puts Musharraf in a classic squeeze between a rock and a hard place.

The Rock: If Musharraf allows American troops into Pakistan, he'll likely be overthrown.

The Hard Place: If Musharraf orders Pakistani troops into Waziristan, he'll likely be overthrown.

Either option includes his own likely death.

(I wonder if Dick Cheney would be so eagerly militant if it meant his own likely death? But that's an aside.)

In all likelihood, whoever replaces Musharraf will be less moderate and less pro-US. A distinct possibility is that he'd be replaced by one of the many emended Taliban sympathizers in the Pakistan military who have been there ever since the US thought the mujahaddin were freedom fighters.

Afghanistan with a population of 31 million was a huge danger when it was controlled by radicals. Pakistan has a population of 165 million, a large army and nukes. How dangerous would that country be in the hands of radicals? More dangerous than having bin Laden held-up in Waziristan? Surely.

The only good solutions, of course, are non-military like: diplomacy, education and development.

But these take a long time, are complex and require follow-through and compromise -- things the US handles poorly -- even in the best of times -- and are utterly beyond the competency of the Bush administration.

So, they are tempted to bomb or invade which will most likely spectacularly backfire and make things even worse than they are now for the US.

(In the spirit of fairness, I should point out that the Bush administration seems less eager to bomb than Democrat Carl Levin external link)

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