Everything Old Is New Again

When Democrats voted for change in November, I’m not sure this what they had in mind:

Officials in contact with the State Department said on Sunday that a new offensive would see a dramatic increase in Predator drone attacks on Taliban targets in defiance of Pakistani objections to cross-border attacks.

President Barack Obama on Sunday admitted that the US military was pushing for talks with the Taliban, but officials consulted on the plans said the military conflict would be raised to new levels of intensity before talks could begin. “There will be talks but the Taliban are going to experience a lot of pain first, on both sides of the border,” said one senior Western diplomat.

Change you can believe in! More Predator attacks across the Pakistani border, whether the Pakistanis like it or not. Of course, the Obama administration can’t describe its strategy in the region without pointlessly trashing its predecessors:

“At the heart of a new Afghanistan policy is going to be a smarter Pakistan policy,” Mr Obama said. “As long as you have got safe havens in these border regions that the Pakistani government can’t control or reach in effective ways, we’re going to continue to see vulnerability on the Afghan side of the border.

“And so it’s very important for us to reach out to the Pakistani government and work with them more effectively.”

But wait! That’s exactly what the Bush administration has been saying for years, which is why it “reached out” to Musharraf’s government to “work with them more effectively.” Recall, though, that before November, the Democrats pretty unanimously condemned the Bush administration for “reaching out” to the legitimate government of Pakistan.

So the bottom line is that, in these respects, at least, the Obama policy is the same as the Bush policy–except, of course, it’s “smarter.” Let’s get Gordon Brown on the line and see what he has to say about that.

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