It's one of the best tools we got today to take out terrorists with little or no loss of life to innocents and soldiers. From the Wall Street Journal:
Several Taliban training camps in the Pakistan hinterland were hit last week by missiles fired from American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, reportedly killing some 20 terrorists. Remarkably, some people think these strikes are a bad idea.
To get a sense of what U.S. drone strikes have accomplished in the past two years, recall the political furor that followed a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that al Qaeda had "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland [i.e., U.S.] attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. . . . As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment." The media declared we were losing the war.
Less than a year later, then-CIA director Michael Hayden offered a far more upbeat assessment to the Washington Post.
What changed? At least part of the answer is that the U.S. went from carrying out only a handful of drone attacks in 2007 to more than 30 in 2008. According to U.S. intelligence, among the "high-value targets" killed in these new strikes were al Qaeda spokesman Abu Layth al-Libi, weapons expert Abu Sulayman al Jazairi, chemical and biological expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, commander and logistician Abu Wafa al-Saudi, al Qaeda "Emir" Abu al-Hasan al Rimi, and, in November, Rashid Rauf. Rauf, who had escaped from a Pakistan jail the previous year, was a coordinator of the summer 2007 plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic.
Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so.
Of course war is a messy business. But terrorists who are plotting to kill innocents -- like plane passengers crossing the Atlantic -- absolutely cannot be allowed to do their evil work in peace.
Two of the problems of the left today -- especially the idealistic young --are: (1) an inability to make reasonable moral distinctions between those who target innocent civilians for murder and those who fight them and (2) in inability to rationally assess danger.
In America and much of the West, mortal national security threats seem so remote as to be virtually impossible. But "impossible" things happen all the time.
It was "impossible" for one of the world's nuclear-armed superpowers to collapse -- but the Soviet Union did. It was "impossible" for the Berlin Wall to fall -- but it did. It was impossible for a handful of men armed with no weapons to launch a direct attack on the Pentagon. destroy two of America's tallest buildings in the heart of a major U.S. city and kill thousands -- but it happened. It happened less than 10 years ago.
The Taliban will eventually do far worse if it is not stopped.
America elected a new president but it cannot take a respite from history. Mortal threats are what they are. Thankfully, American's military is still working very hard to keep Americans safe. It should be applauded and supported in that effort.
One female student in the town of Saidu Sharif has managed to send e-mails to the BBC News website describing the struggle to survive.
I am still in Swat and I will die here. I will not leave my homeland because of the Taleban and I'll fight against them with every possible means.
Our communication system is not working. My phone hasn't been working for many days, it only gets a signal occasionally, especially when the curfew is removed.
There is no electricity and we are using a generator but we have a limited supply of oil to run it. We are only using it for half an hour every 24 hours to charge the laptop and the phones. I am writing this in a hurry.
Most of the people in our town and surrounding villages have left. The ones who have remained want to leave, but most have no money for transport.
Everybody here is against the Taleban. But for me there is a big question mark over the dedication of the Pakistani army
Pregnant women and sick people, who can't walk, have been left behind. In the whole of Swat there is not a single lady doctor. Even a male doctor is hard to find, as they have left.
I know that people in refugee camps in Pakistan live in bad conditions, but the government and international donors are ignoring those remaining in Swat.
People are hungry. Because of the curfew there is a shortage of food. We are running out of stored food items. But we are at risk every time we go out as we might be targeted by the Taleban or the army.
There are many Taleban commanders in my village. Their intelligence is so good, they know what we discuss in our homes.
Six days ago one of my relatives was slaughtered in Mingora city. His dead body was left on the road for four days and nobody handed it over to his parents.
A militant group from a nearby village, all of them young boys, used to come to our girls' college to intimidate the girls. They were checking the faces of girls and were saying things like "I love you" and similar nonsense. One day this group tortured a female school teacher.
I wanted to complete an MBA course. Now the colleges are closed, schools are destroyed, education is impossible. Women can't even go out on the streets any more.
I know who the local Taleban are. I know them personally. Some of them are my distant relatives. A friend of mine works for the police here and he knows them too, but he can't do anything. The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] targeted and destroyed the police force structure, clearing ground for Taleban activities.
In the past, when people have come forward with the details of Taleban they know, they have been betrayed.
So I don't know who we can trust with that information now.
Everybody here is against the Taleban. But for me there is a big question mark over the dedication of the Pakistani army.
The Taleban have their own FM radio station. How come they can be traced by foreign media to give interviews, but they can't be traced and killed by the Pakistani army?
The Pakistani army thinks it is nearing victory in Swat. It is difficult to tell whether this represents hopeful thinking or is fact.
Of course, this is entirely the fault of Islamofascist terrorists in Pakistan who decided that it was acceptable to kill innocent children in the pursuit of political power. No nation can or should tolerate such murder and mayhem.
A curfew has been reimposed in Pakistan's Swat Valley with those trapped there talking about fast-deteriorating conditions and constant attacks by the army.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber has blown himself up at a security checkpoint some 19 miles away in the Dara Adam Khel area of Kohat.
It happened mid-morning local time and at least 10 people were killed.
The security forces insist many of the militants are retreating to the mountainside surrounding the Swat Valley as a result of the military's operation.
But this has been contradicted by residents inside Mingora, the main city of Swat and where the militants have their base.
One resident, speaking to Sky News by telephone from Mingora, said: "The Taliban are still in control. They're in their houses and sometimes you see them patrolling.
"There is constant bombing. The army has taken up positions around the city but have not entered yet."
He said he was desperately trying to organise for his family to leave the area.
The authorities estimate nearly half a million people fled the area on Sunday alone when the curfew was temporarily lifted.
The figures were issued by Khakiste Khan, the divisional revenue officer for Malakand district which covers Swat.
However, there are still tens of thousands trapped in Swat Valley and the surrounding areas.
The military offensive is being closely watched by the Americans.
The head of US Central Command, General David Petraeus said: "Certainly the next few weeks will be very important in this effort to roll back, if you will, this existential threat - a true threat to Pakistan's very existence that has been posed by the Pakistani Taliban."
. . .Hillary Clinton said the other day that Pakistan posed a "mortal threat" to … Afghanistan? India? No, to the entire world! . . . . She has a point: Asif Ali Zardari, the guy who's nominally running the country, isn't running anything. He's ceding more and more turf to the local branch office of the Taliban. When the topic turns up in the news, we usually get vague references to the pro-Osama crowd controlling much of the "north-west," which makes it sound as if these guys are the wilds of rural Idaho to Zardari's Beltway. In fact, they're now within some 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad – or, in American terms, a couple of I-95 exits north of Baltimore: In other words, they're within striking distance of the administrative center of a nation of over 165 million people – and its nuclear weapons. That's the "mortal threat."
What's going to stop them? Well, not Zardari. Nor his "summit" in Washington with President Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. The creation of Pakistan was the worst mistake of postwar British imperial policy, and all that's happened in the six decades since is that its pathologies have burst free of its borders and gone regional, global and, soon, perhaps nuclear. Does the Obama administration have even a limited contingency plan for the nukes if – when – the Pakistani state collapses?
It would be reassuring to think so. But I wonder.
What's the greater likelihood? That in 10 years' time things in Pakistan will be better? Or much worse? That nuclearization by basket-case dictatorships from Pyongyang to Tehran will have advanced, or been contained? That the bleak demographic arithmetic at the heart of Europe and Japan's economic woes will have accelerated, or been reversed? That a resurgent Islam's assaults on free speech and other rights (symbolized by the recent U.N. support for a global Islamic blasphemy law) will have taken hold in the Western world, or been forced to retreat?
A betting man would check the "worse" box. Because resisting the present careless drift would require global leadership. And 100 days into a new presidency Barack Obama is giving strong signals to the world that we have entered what Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post calls "the post-American era."
When the Pakistani government announced that they would allow the Taliban Sharia law, I had stated that the Taliban would not be satisfied, unfortunately I was correct. Last night the Taliban thugs continued their assault on modernity, as they blew up 16 stores selling music and DVDs.
Now that the Taliban were handed their Islamic dream of Sharia law, the have become emboldened. They quickly turned their attention to the Presbyterian Christian community, as they attacked a local Church killing one woman and 28 more. They smashed the Church windows, destroy the Bibles and even tore the cross down from the roof. The local security forces have turned down a request to investigate the attacks.