Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Will Pakistan become a quagmire for the United States?


File photo of Pakistani soldiers at a post overlooking Wana in South WaziristanFollowing up on yesterday’s post about U.S. military action in Pakistan, I see the New York Times is reporting that President George W. Bush secretly approved orders in July allowing American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government.

The new orders, it says, relax firm restrictions on conducting raids on the soil of an important ally without permission.

The paper also quotes two American officials as saying that last week’s raid by U.S. troops involved more than two dozen members of the Navy Seals who spent several hours on the ground and killed about two dozen suspected al Qaeda fighters. ”Supported by an AC-130 gunship, the Special Operations forces were whisked away by helicopters after completing the mission.”

This is big stuff, with enormous potential for escalation, should the raids continue. What happens if a ground assault goes wrong and some U.S. troops are kidnapped and handed over to al Qaeda? An enormous publicity coup for al Qaeda, which would no doubt provoke more raids, in turn requiring air support to cover the U.S. troops on the ground.