For those supportive of unmanned planes bluntly targeting alleged terrorists in Pakistan, the reported death of Baitullah Mehsud was a moment for celebration – a validation of this policy.
In spite of a random success such as Mehsud’s death, the blowback of drones is clearly self-defeating.
Take this wire, for instance, just in from Antiwar.com:
A US drone strike into the South Waziristan Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) struck a house in the village of Ladda, killing at least 14 people and wounding several others.
A tragedy like this raises life-or death questions as to whether there is an upside to such a US-driven effort.
The worst part? Under President Obama, this tactic has remained in the shadows:
Since early 2009, Barack Obama administration officials have been claiming that the predator attacks in Pakistan have killed nine of 20 top al Qaeda officials, but they have refused to disclose how many civilians have been killed in the strikes.
But perhaps a debate in Washington is broadening. The Center for a New American Security’s latest Af-Pak report went as far to say,
…[T]he costs of drone attacks against non-al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan outweigh the benefits and they are, on balance, harmful to U.S. and allied interests. The drone war has created a siege mentality among the Pashtun population in northwest Pakistan.
Mehsud may be dead but I’ll await the end of indiscriminate killing before I celebrate.