Thursday, September 30, 2010

Laughing at the New America Foundation

The liberal New America Foundation just released a new poll taken in Pakistan's tribal areas. The foundation uses this poll to draw the sweeping conclusion that the U.S. drone assassination campaign is "self-defeating." Why? Because locals don't like it. Seriously.
What our poll suggests is that if the premise of the American counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan is winning the support of the population, the United States is in danger of losing that support in the Taliban's rear bases inside Pakistan.
Except that the drone campaign and our counterinsurgency strategy inside Afghanistan are two different things. I'm not sure if the New America Foundation is too clueless to recognize the difference, or just being intellectually dishonest. The drone campaign is not intended to win hearts and minds, pacify & secure territory, protect civilians, or do any of the other things that make up our counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan. It is intended to kill people that we have no other reasonable means to get at.

Is it even the slightest bit surprising that people living in the area don't like the drone campaign? What people would appreciate having a superpower sending killer robot aircraft over its villages to rain death on unsuspecting targets? Since the wrong targets are sometimes (often) attacked, and anyone who happens to be nearby can be wounded or killed, who in their right mind living in the Pakistani tribal areas would be supportive of this strategy?

So we can pretty much laugh at the main results of the poll as completely obvious and virtually meaningless. And then there is this gem of analysis.
The antagonism to U.S. policies in the region does not spring from general anti-American feelings. Almost three-quarters of the people in the tribal area said that their opinion of the United States would improve -- most by a great deal -- if the United States increased humanitarian aid and visas to work or study in the States.
Really? If we gave them a ton of money, let them into the U.S., and gave them jobs they'd like the U.S. better? So let me see if I've got this straight. According to the New America Foundation, Pakistanis who don't like U.S. policies would like us better if we changed our policies, gave them more money and did all sorts of other things they'd like. That's some genius analysis right there. Obviously it must mean they aren't motivated by anti-American feelings. I guess there's no point in mentioning that we already give a ridiculous amount of aid to Pakistan, and led the international relief effort after the latest flooding.

The poll also finds that the same Pakistanis would supposedly support action by the Pakistani military against the targets the U.S. is attacking. Too bad the Pakistani military is both unwilling & incapable of dealing with the situation. They are too prone to see the Afghan Taliban as a strategic asset, and can't control the tribal areas in any case.

The drone campaign has nothing to do with making Pakistani tribesmen happy or sad, it's about killing enemies of the U.S.

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