Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obama and the drones

Newsweek has a short exclusive in this weekend's magazine about drone strikes in Pakistan -- saying it is Obama who is against more of them. They report:
One person standing in the way of expanded missile strikes: President Obama. Five administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that the president has sided with political and diplomatic advisers who argue that widening the scope of the drone attacks would be risky and unwise. Obama is concerned that firing missiles into urban areas like Quetta, where intelligence reports suggest that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and other high-level militants have sometimes taken shelter, would greatly increase the risk of civilian casualties.
Now, who knows what's really true. This is a story based on anonymous sources, and it may or may not reflect any reality. That said, here are a couple of ways of thinking of it.

The first is that there are people within the government somewhere who want to expand the drone attacks, and are here taking their case to the press, taking on the President. It's possible.

Another possibility, though, is that this is exactly the story the White House wanted. They are continuing drone attacks, and taking considerable criticism from the left and much of the world for it. And with this story, they come across as the cautious administration, the people who want to avoid civilian casualties -- even though civilian casualties are exactly what they're continuing. For example, the Huffington Post thinks the story is news.


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