Obama won’t end the drone war, but Pakistan might

My latest article for Al Jazeera:

The CIA and the Pentagon have dwarfed the State Department in both resources and influence…

The CIA is likely to resist any shift in policy that mandates relinquishing such power. But unless the conflict between the CIA’s institutional imperatives and US national interest is resolved, blood will continue to spill and the world will grow more dangerous.

This unresolved tension is also manifest in the ambivalence of presidential rhetoric. Last month, Obamalaid out his new national security strategy in a magnificent soliloquy. But in aiming for Hamlet, Obama delivered Gollum.

You can read the rest at Al Jazeera.

China Radio International

Follow this link to hear me and Stephen Zunes discussing the situation in Syria on China Radio International. (Due to a timezone confusion, I was asleep until two minutes before this hour-long broadcast, which took place between 3 and 4 in the morning, my time.)

How Pakistan Can Stop Drone Strikes

This article appeared at The Atlantic.

Nawaz SharifThe picturesque valleys of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan are overlooked by the immense snowcaps of Nanga Parbat. At more than 26,000 feet, it is the world’s ninth tallest mountain, but for alpinists it is a challenge far greater than Everest. It’s a rare mountaineer who is unaware of its reputation as “the killer mountain.” The notoriety derives from its deadly avalanches and crevasses, but the death that was visited on a group of climbers last month took a much different form. Eleven mountaineers were killed when militants affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban entered their basecamp and unleashed a deadly fusillade.

The assailants claimed the slaughter was retaliation for a June 7 drone strike that killed the Taliban deputy leader Waliur Rehman. Unlike the mountaineers, Pakistan was braced for the attack. Only the location came as a surprise.

Earlier in the month, when the newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office, he had used his inaugural address to ask the U.S. to refrain from further attacks in Pakistan. It took less than 48 hours for the CIA to ignore his demand and launch the deadly strike that killed nine, including the Taliban leader. Pakistanis were incensed. It was more than a breach of the country’s sovereignty; it was also an intervention in its politics and an invitation to further violence.

Continue reading “How Pakistan Can Stop Drone Strikes”