Monday, November 03, 2008

Petraeus in Pakistan

It makes sense that the new CENTCOM commander, Gen. Petraeus made Pakistan his first stop on his victory tour. While Iraq and Afghanistan are still moving with all deliberate speed towards ongoing disaster, events in Pakistan are accelerating, and US policies are feeding fuel to the fire.

Last week, Islamabad summoned the US ambassador for a formal protest of missile attacks on Pakistan territory. While these attacks had been quasi sanctioned by Musharraf, the new government and president need public support for a wide range of policies, and the public is not OK in being the US's target range. Hence the protest.

With the tact that has made the current administration famous, another attack followed the protest. Petraeus's visit has given Zardari, et al, someone to complain to, but it's hard to believe that he will reverse the policy. It's also hard to see that Zardari can go on just protesting, as more attacks continue inflame public opinion.

So, we seem to be at a moment when push comes to shove, I would think to the dismay of Zardari, Gilani and Kiyani. It's hard to know how the seemingly astute Petraeus will play it. The time between the election and the inauguration is going to be full of maneuvering. Petraeus has been a very loyal member of Cheney's team so far, is he now willing to strike out on his own?


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