Bombing Pakistan Would Not Be a Good Idea, Whatever the Weekly Standard Says

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Defiantly refusing to draw the obvious conclusion from yesterday’s terrorist plot revelations–namely, that rigorous, decidated, internationally cooperative police work is our best weapon in fighting terror; or at least it seems to have yielded better results than, say, invading, occupying, and getting stuck indefinitely in Muslim countries–the Weekly Standard floats the notion of military strikes…on Pakistan.

Pakistan’s willingness to fight terrorism has been uneven. While President Musharraf’s regime has provided some key al Qaeda leaders and actionable intelligence in the past, it has also arguably not done enough to crack down on al Qaeda’s rear bases on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (and on other terrorists operating on its soil). But if the early reporting is right, Pakistan has now provided crucial cooperation in stopping the largest planned attack since 9/11.

It will be interesting to follow the details of the plotters’ ties to Pakistan. Who did they meet with? Why hadn’t Pakistan arrested those terrorists previously? Will the U.S. and U.K. pressure Pakistan to arrest those terrorists now, if they have not yet? Or, will the U.S. and U.K. attempt more aggressive measures, as they did earlier this year when America bombed a home thought to have housed al Qaeda’s Ayman al Zawahiri?

Pakistan has now been the launching pad for one major attack and one planned attack on British soil. And while the Pakistanis have proven increasingly willing to cooperate with American and British counterterrorism officials, it is clear that a substantive al Qaeda network still operates from there.

Pakistan is not our friend, granted. And Musharraf is playing–perforce–a double game. But if you want to make it even harder for him to pitch in in the war on terror, sure, bomb his country. Way to shore a guy up! And aside from the specifics of Pakistan, it’s not my impression that the military-first approach has worked out all that well for us so far…

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