According to Reuters, “U.S. military leaders are reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan if there is a successful attack on American soil tied to the country’s tribal areas, The Washington Post reported in its Saturday edition.”
Problem One–military contingency planning is supposed to be secret. Why this information is getting out is far from clear. If it is meant as a deterrent–forget it. Odds are if al Qaeda and the Taliban knew they could prompt attacks on Pakistan by striking the US they would just up their efforts–knowing that large-scale unilateral strikes on Pakistan would put US and Pakistani officials at each others throats. Plus, thanks for the heads-up, America! Now, they can start taking countermeasures–dispersing more widely, hiding in the cities.
Problem Two. If letting this out is supposed to make the administration “look tough”–forget that too. Basically, what this says is that we are going to wait for the next 9/11–just like last time–and then respond. That is just idiotic–even this White House admits we are already at war with al Qaeda and the Taliban. If we know where we these guys are we need to find a way to get them now! Not wait. This is like saying after Pearl Harbor all we did was prepare to respond after the next Pearl Harbor.
In the wake of the release of National Security Strategy–that tried to look consilatory and humble and at the same time “reserved the right” to look tough–finding secret US strategy on the front page of the Washington Post that tries to send the same message is awfuly suspicious–especially since, of late, the front page of the Washington Post has become the White House’s favorite propaganda outlet.