Saturday, September 27, 2008
McCain's Pakistan Flip Flop
This isn't the first time I've flagged these comments made by John McCain in an interview with the editors of Defense News last October. I'm posting them again in light of last night's debate, where McCain once again attacked Barack Obama for his stance on American strikes against al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan's tribal frontier:
Q: Does the U.S. have any options with regard to al-Qaida and reputed al-Qaida strongholds in the federally unregulated areas in Pakistan? Other than what seems to be sort of a status quo of waiting for them to come over the border, the Pakistani Army occasionally launching a strike to -- well, it's hard to say for what end because they don't seem to be sustained efforts. What are the U.S. options there?
McCain: I think they're very difficult options. I think that if we knew of al-Qaida -- more specifically Taliban, it's mainly Taliban that are operating in these places -- that we have to do what's necessary. We don't have to advertise it. We don't have to embarrass or humiliate the Pakistani government. . .
. . .These are all very tough calls, and in summary I think that what happens in Waziristan will be dictated by events in Islamabad, but I also think that we, where necessary, without in any way embarrassing our friends, can have a lot of options.
Q: So if you were president and you knew that bin Laden were over there, you had a target spotting, you could nail him, you'd go get him?
McCain: Sure. Sure. We have to, and I'm sure that after the initial flurry, that whoever our friends are, wherever he is, would be relieved because, as I mentioned to you before, he's still very effective in the world, very, very effective.
That's a pretty clear case of political bad faith, but oddly enough it hasn't gotten a whole lot of traction.