Wrong Strategy? Pakistan Not Smart to Hit Civilians

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Am I the only one that notices that press coverage of the conflict in northwestern Pakistan is completely dominated by a geopolitical and counterterrorism viewpoint? I was reminded of that fact again over the last few days with the spike in coverage following the Afghanistan offensive and the related arrests of key Taliban leaders in joint US-Pakistani operations.

An old women carrying her grandson fleeing from Maidan, northwest Pakistan to escape the fighting between the Taliban and government forces, 27 April 2009. (c) Amnesty International

An old women carrying her grandson fleeing from Maidan, northwest Pakistan to escape the fighting between the Taliban and government forces, 27 April 2009. (c) Amnesty International

The most recent example is an op-ed in yesterday’s Boston Globe, titled Pakistan smart to hit Taliban. Its author, Eric Rosenbach, does a good job of analyzing the most recent events and putting them in a broader (geopolitical, of course) perspective. Like many others, he ignores the fact that many of the military and intelligence operations he describes actually affect civilians on the ground, who are not connected to any of the armed insurgency groups. His piece, like most others, are filled with elegant words like “tactical” and, above all, “strategy” or “strategic” (in this case, these words are used 11 times, in the most creative alterations: “strategic game changer”, “strategic reassessment”, “change in strategic calculus”, and so on).

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